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NATIVE AMERICAN INDIANS TRIBUNAL-COURT STRIKES A BLOW AGAINST RACISM

The Northwest Inter-Tribunal Court sat in session in the Snohomish County Court House, Everett WA. on Friday 22 May, 1998 in a nine hour presentation of evidence both scientific and from testimony. The Court enacted an injunction against the State of Washington’s Public Schools for the State’s use of Native American Indian caricatures for school Mascots. The Special Prosecutor assigned to the case by the National Elders Council and the Khui Kwann Court was Dr. Robert R. Ward an American Indian Law Scientist.


Dr. Ward’s investigation over the past 18 months brought forth the evidence that there is definitely personal harm to Native Children in school districts that host the mascot. At  the end of the hearing Dr. Ward stated, “The people have proved this allegation with indisputable direct evidence”. He further stated, “ With the testimony of the victims we had to find a common denominator, we found psychological harm had been done in the form of “delayed stress” a compensable psychological injury”. He continued, “When we picked apart the testimony and had the expert witnesses give their opinions supported by direct evidence it was a solid case. We had to break down all of those theories of psychology, education specialist, economist, and history and marry them to the law in order to explain this case. I am very pleased that we not only proved racism is being taught to all children of tender and developmental years, it teaches them it is permissible to dehumanize and make fun of a race of people. We also proved the use of the mascots contribute to genocide, and we proved that the seed of racism planted in early years later leads to the economic harms of lower wages for Native people and problems with Tribal
business recruiting, all of these harms to Native People from stupid mascots.


When asked if this Court was easy, Dr. Ward stated “ It was anything but easy, this is probably the hardest court I have appeared before in my 35 years of law. First, the Tribunal of esteemed elders and leaders probably had more experience in court than I.   Second, every single piece of evidence was scrutinized and reviewed by each Justice. Third, the Justices had the opportunity to also question each witness after the direct examination. I learned a great deal from that and at times I was ashamed of why I hadn’t thought to ask that question in the interviews and direct examination. All in all, when the presentation was done, I did not have any idea if they were going to come out of chambers with an injunction or a reprimand. You could not read the emotions of the Tribunal, it was sort of like a Grand Jury in it’s practice, but like the Supreme Court when they did a re-direct. I had polled the Justices before the hearing and half had occasionally thought about the mascot issue, the other half had not given any thought to it, and collectively they all considered it to be a minute issue. To have been able to pursuade those esteemed elders with the evidence we had was a good thing. It proved to me we have a solid case, and solid evidence, and we also have a Tribunal of Native judges that have been educated on the hidden racism of these mascots” , he ended.


The injunction now goes to Governor Gary Lock of Washington, and also to the Federal Court, and United States Department of Justice for enforcement since this matter was a Civil Rights issue.


Across the Net Interviews by Pat Poland, Media Specialties, Houston Texas.

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