--- Via guest blogger and veteran reporter Curt Brown ---

Marching with picket signs that said “Teach the Truth” and “Future Metro State Students Demand & Expect Indigenous Studies,” more than 30 Metropolitan State students and a few faculty members marched and rallied Wednesday on St. Paul’s East Side.

They’re angry that the spring class offerings won’t include two courses – American Indian Spirituality and Dakota People of Minnesota: Genocide, Survival & Recovery.”

The timing, they insist, couldn’t be worse because 2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the U.S.-Dakota War, which ended with the largest mass execution in the nation’s history with 38 Dakota men hanged in Mankato in 1862.

“It’s shocking and heart-breaking that these classes won’t be offered in what should be the year of truth telling,” said Danielle Rae Roberge, one of the students leading the protest. “I’m upset and angry. We cannot forget the original Americans.”

The marchers were ushered into a large Metro State room, where school President Sue Hammersmith, arts and sciences Dean Becky Omdahl and a group of administrators listened to them for more than two hours.

Hammersmith committed to enhancing cultural programming next year but said: “It won’t happen overnight and it will never be enough. But you have made a difference.

“I can’t make you promises today of A, B or C but I can pledge I have heard you and we are not at cross purposes.”

The president and dean explained that the Dakota history course, taught by Dakota elder Chris Mato Nunpa, was a one-time topics offering last semester and will need to undergo a procedural faculty review before being re-offered.

The spirituality course, they said, was being “rotated out” but will be offered in 2013.

The students weren’t satisfied and vowed to press on. They said their hastily called protest was organized in only three days. With more time, they said they could have hundreds of allies marching.

“There’s a lot of frustration about the marginalization of Indigenous viewpoints,” said Zack Anderson, one of the students who organized the march and rally.


Photo by Curt Brown

Photo by Curt Brown