American Indians have endured phenomenally rapid change throughout their history, especially during the past two hundred years. Despite federal efforts to assimilate Indians, to terminate their nations, and even to exterminate them, Native Americans have tenaciously and sometimes perilously held on to their distinct ways of life. Unfortunately, the American education system has, at times, participated in these harmful policies that have contributed to the detriment of American Indians. .
Locally, in a school district not too far from the university here in La Crosse, there is a case in point. In an article that was published in the La Crosse Tribune on Saturday, November 1, reporters Matt Johnson and Tim Hundt reported about a school play that is currently being protested in the Viroqua School District, in Viroqua, Wisconsin. The play that is being protested by members of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse's Native American Student Association, titled "Little Mary Sunshine- was scheduled to run at the Viroqua High School from November 14-16. Because of the protest, the school district has chosen not to sponsor the play, yet the play will be moved to another venue in the town, with the same students acting in it.
The reason that this play is being protested by the student organization, in the words of Matt Stewart, co-president, is because, "Public schools shouldn't be the place to host racist content."" Apparently, in the play, an American Indian named Yellow Feather kidnaps a title character in the play. Controversy revolves around the kidnapping because some claim that the original version implies an attempted sexual assault. .
Even though the director of the play, Sherry Getter, has re-written the controversial scene, altered the ending, and used a script rewritten in 1990, the student organization feels that there is still an implication of racism in the content of the play.