Students packed into a standing-room-only Beam Classroom in the Visual Arts Center on Wednesday to hear a presentation from their peers and professors on the appropriation of Native American culture.
According to Dean of Multicultural Affairs Leana Amaez, at least one instance of cultural appropriation occurs each year, often by students who dress in “native” costumes for Halloween or a themed party. These instances are not always limited to Native American attire; she noted that earlier in the fall semester students wearing sombreros were brought to her attention.
When these instances of appropriation occur, Amaez often begins a dialogue with students that focuses not on their intentions, but on the impact their actions had on fellow students. “If the problem is ignorance, then the solution is education,” said Amaez, noting that repercussions rarely take the form of punishment.
The event was facilitated by Zohran Mamdani ’14.
Bowdoin Student Government president Sarah Nelson ’14 opened the discussion by recounting an experience last fall where she attended a costume party dressed as a Native American woman.“When I met with the Dean’s office later that week and heard how hurtful my actions had been to some of my peers, I was embarrassed, horrified and surprised,” she said. “That I had owned a costume for six years and was so ignorant to the fact that it was a misappropriation of someone else’s culture—someone else’s identity—terrified me.”
She went on to explain that she believes awareness education can help other students to think about these issues in a new way.
“I hope that, in listening to my story about a time when I made a serious error, everyone here will be more willing to talk to their peers, especially their peers of different races and ethnicities, about where the holes in our understandings of each other’s identities lie,” she said.
First year Dylan Goodwill introduced herself to the crowd and identified herself a member of the Navajo, Lakota and Dakota tribes; she grew up on the Window Rock Navajo Reservation in St. Michaels, Arizona.
“I’ve grown up with a sense of following my traditional ways—going to ceremonies and living in a hogan, which is the traditional Navajo home,” said Goodwill. “I’ve grown up dancing pow wow since I was two years old.”
She explained that some stereotypically native symbols often used by non-natives in costumes hold deep importance within the Native American community.
“We grew up knowing that the way we dress, the way our hair was, our moccasins, our turquoise, our feathers were all sacred and that everything had a meaning,” she said.
For instance, for Goodwill, eagle feathers symbolize “protection and harmony,” among other things, and she currently has eagle feathers hanging in her dorm room to remind her of this. She explained that seeing these symbols being used by people who had no connection to them was hurtful.
“They’re not costumes. We call them regalia,” said Goodwill. “It’s not something that we’re trying to hide from ourselves—it’s something that we are.”
Assistant Professor of Sociology Ingrid Nelson and Assistant Professor of Anthropology Kelly Fayard brought an academic lens to the talk. Professor Nelson explained that the work the teach-in was doing was not about “blame or shame or guilt,” but bringing an awareness of each person’s privilege, which shapes experiences and grants advantages that often go unseen. She encouraged students to “use the privilege that you have to dismantle systems that perpetuate that privilege.” Fayard, a member of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, detailed the long history of cultural appropriation of Native American images in America. She showed images from the Boston Tea Party, secret societies at Yale and the University of Michigan, professional sports teams logos and fashion that all took symbols from Native American culture.
These stereotypes, in Fayard’s view, are damaging to Native American groups on many levels. She noted that they consistently grouped all Native cultures together without an appreciation for the varied practices of the more than 500 federally recognized Native American tribes. “[Stereotypes] constantly put natives as part of the past,” she added. “It basically erases the existence of modern Native American peoples.”
She encouraged students to buy from Native American designers if they are interested in Native American patterns or traditional jewelry, instead of mass marketed products that proport themselves to be native.
After the presentations, students posed questions to the panelists on how to discuss issues of appropriation with peers who may not understand the issue. One topic that was repeated was the use of Native American figures as mascots in professional sports.
Ben Woo Ching, a sophomore who identifies as American Samoan, noted that these issues can often exist in a gray area.
“The University of Hawaii is the Hawaiian Warriors and that’s okay for them because they’re in Hawaii but it is not okay [when] a white man owns the Atlanta Braves,” he said.
Woo Ching thought the discussion reflected W. E. B. DuBois’ double consciousness, in that “White only perceives as white perceives but the minority perceives from both directions.”
Amaez hopes that more discussions of race and identity can continue in a student-led platform. Next fall, she will begin a training program for students interested in facilitating discussions about race for peers. Plans for this program will be finalized over the summer.
‘I Am Bowdoin’ continues fight against bias in the community
The dialogue about difference and bias at Bowdoin will continue on Sunday, and students and administrators are hard at work to ensure the conversation is not silenced by the end of the school year. "I Am Bowdoin" leaders have organized a nighttime walk around campus and into town entitled "Belonging in Brunswick," and they are hoping for a strong turnout.
College reflects on a successful Ivies
As the campus recuperates from another Ivies, students and administrators alike are reflecting on the highs and lows of the weekend. From Thursday's Racer X concert to Pinestock on Saturday, many agree that this year's springtime celebration went off without a major hitch. The weekend's events were a culmination of planning and coordination by the Entertainment Board (E-Board), Dining Service, Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) and the Office of Safety and Security.
Trustees look to finalize new comprehensive fee for 2011-12
The comprehensive fee to attend Bowdoin will be going up. Just how much, however, remains to be seen. When the Board of Trustees meets next weekend, voting on and accepting a comprehensive fee for fiscal year (FY) 2012 will be one of the major tasks on its itinerary.
Community reacts to Bin Laden’s death
For a generation growing up in the shadow of September 11, the death of Osama Bin Laden is a watershed moment—the figure so often portrayed as the epitome of evil is no more. Though many American students felt closure and celebrated the death of Bin Laden, many others felt deep ambivalence about the event and its potential consequences.
IT and SWAT launch the ‘Orbit’ to mixed reviews from students
After a year of work, Information Technology (IT) and the Student Web Advisory Team (SWAT) have officially launched the redesigned student digest, the Bowdoin Orbit. Although still in its trial period, the Bowdoin Orbit will eventually phase out the Student Digest. It will be married with a gateway that boasts discussion boards and a newsfeed compilation from student blogs and websites.
In break with recent tradition, Phase II only sparsely attended
Toby Zitsman '13 decided to spend Tuesday night on a couch in Moulton Union's lobby in hopes of being the first in line for Wednesday's Phase II course registration, which began at 7:30 a.m. As it happened, his desperate efforts were unnecessary. "I slept over on one of the couches, but I didn't really need to," said Zitsman, who turned out to be the only person to camp out in a break with the tradition of recent years, when numerous students elected to sleep in Moulton Union on the night before Phase II registration.
MCC awards honor community service
Community service and civic participation are deeply ingrained in the Bowdoin ethos. In a testament to these principles, Samantha Collins '11, Sarah Pritzker '11 and Associate Professor of Education Charles Dorn were recently honored by the Maine Campus Compact (MCC) for their ongoing commitment to these pillars of the College.
BSG convenes for final meeting of the spring
Bowdoin Student Government (BSG) convened on Wednesday for its final meeting of the 2010-2011 academic year. BSG dealt with a proposed name change to the "Vice President for Facilities" position. The proposal would change the name to "Vice President for Facilities and Sustainability," reaffirming the College's stance on reducing its environmental footprint.
Bowdoin Brief: Chapel bells ring through the night in suspected Ivies prank
The campus came alive with the sound of music last Saturday night with an unexpected recital of the Chapel bells. In what appears to be an Ivies prank, an unidentified person entered the Chapel and set off the bells at approximately 1:30 a.m., causing them to ring for roughly 30 minutes until 2 a.m.
Bowdoin Brief: Renowned concussion expert to visit campus on May 13
Concussion expert Chris Nowinski of the Sports Legacy Institute (SLI) will speak on the treatment, prevention and subject of head injuries on Friday, May 13 in Pickard Theater. Nowinski, author of "Head Games: Football's Concussion Crisis," is co-director of the Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy at the Boston University School of Medicine and was an All-Ivy football player during his time at Harvard.
Editorial: What goes around
To the chagrin of many seniors, graduation approaches with haste. For many of us, this is a bittersweet time—we are eagerly looking to the future while also reflecting on the four years we have spent here. Bowdoin has been our home, and it is hard to part ways.
The Cold, Hardt, Truth: Branch out of usual dining routines and eat with someone new
"Hi, do you mind if I join you?" Those were the words of one stranger at lunch this Monday, and they definitely caught my lunch partner and me by surprise. At Bowdoin, we have a knack for falling into routines. We find a place where we are comfortable, and we do not often venture out of it. Be it a cozy chair at the Union where we go to study every night, or a carrel in the stacks where we can block out distractions and work until Security kicks us out, we find out what works and we keep doing it.
Southpaw: Bin Laden’s death provides limited resolution
Just over two years into his term in office, President Obama is finally having his moment. He circumvented the state laws in Hawaii last week to release his long-form birth certificate, a major coup against the birther contingent that had been gaining momentum again through the inane ramblings of Donald Trump. A trump card indeed.
Brunswick displayed patience during Ivies
To the Editors: I would like to take this opportunity to ask all my friends and supporters to call off the wildly successful boycott of the Brunswick community I proposed in my hugely popular November 5 letter, "Brunswick community intolerant of students." Though we will never be certain our point has been made, at this point the human toll has simply become too much for me to ask you to continue. We've had a good run.
- April 29
Editorial: Spending summer
Summer just is not what it used to be. The relaxing days at the beach are, for many of us, traded in for khakis and a water cooler. Though we are still weeks away from temperatures above 70 degrees, the scramble for a summer job, internship or activity is underway in full force.
- April 29
The Bowdoin Project: Klingenstein defends Claremont Review essay, responds to criticism
In "A Golf Story," which appeared recently in the Claremont Review of Books, I questioned whether President Barry Mills is serious about wanting more intellectual diversity at Bowdoin. The essay generated mostly smoke, but amid the smoke there lie important questions.
How intellectually diverse is Bowdoin today? Not very, if political party affiliation is any indication. Only Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarbrough in her April 22 op-ed "Bowdoin should examine its lack of diversity" challenged my claim that no more than 4 percent of the Bowdoin faculty is Republican. She thinks my figure is probably too high.
But perhaps there is no need to count Republican noses, for, as a number of my critics pointed out, party affiliation may not be the best measure of what I am calling "intellectual diversity." OK. So what then do we mean by the term and how might it be measured?
- April 29
Half-Assed: Trump’s race to the White House
While election season seems far off, possible Republican challengers to President Barack Obama have already begun posturing for the 2012 election. President Obama's term in office has been disastrous for the economy. His administration has not effectively lowered unemployment and has contributed to the explosion of the national deficit. The stimulus bill and Obamacare have both been tremendous failures, costing far too much and distancing America from its core free market principles. At this point, I have found it essentially impossible to disagree with the Republicans on these points. It's indisputable; Obama needs to go.
- April 29
Yarbrough inaccurately depicts college diversity
To the Editors: How does Professor of Social Sciences Jean Yarbrough conclude that the college lacks "intellectual and political" diversity ("Bowdoin should examine its lack of diversity," April 22, 2011)?
- April 29
Country First: Republicans struggling to find ideal candidate
As the summer approaches and edges closer to next year's presidential campaign, the opportunity to charter a new course for the party has arisen. Thus far, polls consistently show Republicans thoroughly unhappy, unimpressed and unengaged with the list of likely, and even far-fetched, candidates for the party's nomination. Each of them has been trying to lay claim to the Reagan-mantle of conservatism, one that embraces social, fiscal and foreign policy conservatism.
- April 29
The Foreign Exchange: Bowdoin’s mission to guarantee student happiness
In the days leading up to Ivies, some of my less party-oriented friends have started to grumble about the perceived waste of resources that is Ivies. The complaints usually go something like: "Why should we be paying for these bands to come, and why should Bowdoin allow students to use their land and money so they can blackout all weekend?"
Director of athletics connects to coaches, athletes
While many jobs at the College are predictable and patterned, there are some that go off of the beaten path. With the inherent unpredictability of sports, it is no surprise that Director of Athletics Jeff Ward has a different schedule each day. For Ward, days frequently start early and run late. Overtime can literally mean staying to watch the overtime period of a game—and this is one of the things he likes best.
Year in Review: Looking back at the 2010-2011 academic year
The 2010-2011 academic year had the usual ups and downs—transports, thefts, a national championship, Meatless Monday, a salary thaw, a notable bias incident and nice weather for Ivies. These stories, along with many others, are chronicled in this summary of a year of Orient articles.
Department prizes vary for each
Scholarly excellence can be rewarded in a variety of ways. If you are a chemistry major, your possible prizes range from a certificate to a Merck Index. On the other hand, if you are majoring in government and legal studies, you can apply for the Philo Sherman Bennett Prize Fund and, if successful, could walk away with close to $200. "There is no 'one size fits all' for departmental prizes," said Senior Vice President for Administration and Treasurer Katy Longley. "First, the terms of the prize may vary; one fund may designate the size of the prize, and another may leave the size of the prize to the discretion of the department. Second, some prizes, such as certain book awards, carry no monetary value."
The Ethicist: Exploring the ethics of events and networking
I am the leader of a large campus organization. We are often asked to support or co-sponsor events organized by other organizations and individuals. We were recently asked to support an interesting event which, in my opinion, was not going to be popular. It was clear that no one would come. I, for one, would rather have spent my Friday night elsewhere. Was it wrong to agree to support the event if I didn't think it would be well-received?
All the Brews That's Fit to Drink: Bad brews for Bears: the popular college beers to avoid at all costs
As your humble columnist, I feel as though I've tried my best to steer all those who read my article towards beer bliss. Even in my piece discussing the finer points of malt liquor, I made an honest attempt to distinguish those brews that rose above the swill and reached some sort of relatively elevated status.
Fashion Sense & Sensibility: Mixing personal tastes to create a unique look on campus and beyond
Because online shopping is my source of inspiration for this column—though this time I was shopping for Mother's Day gifts, I swear—I happily landed upon the Free People website (freepeople.com). The home page has the title "Shop by Girl," and shows five different girls underneath with whom you can identify. Ginger is "confident, sensual, and a flirt," and Sandy is the "beach girl, easy-going and effortless," while Meadow is "bohemian, a free-spirit and creative." Candy is the "romantic, sweet and girly" one and then there's Lou, the "tomboy, adventurous and fearless." What I find ironic about trying to categorize Free People shoppers into these separate identities is that the brand itself is a total convergence of all of these personalities. The lines between these girls are blurred by the brand itself, as Free People serves someone who believes that she could be all of these attributes.
- April 29
Seniors design Free Time app to simplify scheduling
The question, "when are you free?" never seems to have a quick and easy answer. Seniors Ben Johnson, Nathan Merritt and Houston Kraft may have found a solution to this problem, however, with their new iPhone app, Free Time. "It basically looks at your calendar from a new perspective," said Kraft. "It imports the calendar from your phone, and shows the blocks of free time when you are available, and you can quickly share those with people."
- April 29
Chow Maine: Flipside’s fresh ingredients make it Midcoast’s best pizza
In one of my first articles, I dethroned The Cabin, in Bath, from its widely accepted position as the best pizza joint in mid-coast Maine. While it has its charm, the pizza at the Cabin is certainly nothing to write home about. It seems only fitting then, that in my last article I offer up an alternative for Bowdoin's pizza-lovers. In the search for the perfect pizza pie, Brunswick's Flipside delivers (figuratively speaking).
- April 29
Peer Health: Ivies wisdom for hard alcohol, mixed drinks
In my last installment of the year, I'm going to talk about something I am sure none of you were expecting: Ivies. Surprised? I think not. But there may be a bit of health confusion on the topic. We are all receiving mixed messages about our health, safety and school rules at this time. Ivies can be a lot of fun, but it can also end up not being that fun if you are having trouble navigating the surreal quality of the event and walking the line of how much is too much.
- April 22
Alumni celebrate Ivies Weekend on the West Coast
While Bowdoin students celebrate Ivies on the football field, alums in San Francisco will be having a party of their own. Nalgenes, Bowdoin logs, and the "spirit of Ivies" will appear on the West Coast this Saturday for the first ever San Francisco Ivies, an event organized by alumni from the Class of 2008. "We're extremely fortunate to have a really huge Bowdoin community out here," said Kate Ambush '08, who helped plan the event. "We were kind of hanging out and we thought, 'Hey, Ivies is coming soon...wouldn't it be great if we could hold the same kind of event here in San Francisco?'"
Arts & Entertainment
Longfellows audition for a slot in NBC reality show
The Longfellows stepped into the limelight yesterday when they auditioned for The Sing Off, an NBC reality TV show that pits a cappella groups against one another to win $100,000 and a Sony Music recording contract.
Students perform in ‘For Colored Girls’ this weekend at Wish Theater
Twenty-one girls take the stage to perform a play directed by Liz Gary ’11
For the next two evenings, Wish Theater will feature “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf,” a show written by Ntozake Shange in 1975 and nominated for a Tony Award in 1977.
BMC’s Quadzilla attacks tonight with student bands
Though Ivies has passed and the Whittier Field stage has been dismantled, the music isn't about to stop. Quadzilla, a music festival sponsored by Bowdoin Music Collective (BMC), will throw the spotlight on student performers tonight on the Brunswick Quad from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Creative Campus: Will Hatleberg ’11 paints, colors his artistic career at Bowdoin
Crayons are not generally first on one's list of materials when it comes to making fine art. For Will Hatleberg '11, however, these preschool tools have been revolutionary, transforming his finely crafted oil paintings into sculptural, emotionally provocative gems.
Honors project ‘Fright Show’ freaks Wish Theater audience
As part of her self-designed major, bridging the theater and film departments, Jillian Eddy '12 presented her honors project "Jackie and Johnny's Friday Night Fright Show" yesterday night. Combining film collages with live theatrics and music, Eddy brought together multiple art mediums for a truly unique performance.
Music to My Ears: Lil Wayne, J Cole, Dr. Dre bound to impress
As I ponder an appropriate farewell, I reflect on what my intentions were when I began this musical column. One goal was to provide readers with comprehensive and thoughtful reviews of recent albums from hip-hop moguls and veterans. I also hoped to suggest new music from up-and-comers that were less well known.
DJ of the Week: ‘Biscuits & Moonshine’ with Colvin ’13 and Henry ’13
What is your favorite song lyric, and from what song? Tucker Colvin: “This may not be the moment to tell you face to face, but I could wait forever for the perfect time and place” from “Elaborate Lives” by Aida. James Henry: “Sometimes you lead, sometimes you follow, don’t worry ’bout what you don’t know, life’s a dance you learn as you go” from “Life’s a Dance” by John Michael Montgomery.
Art Smarts: Maren Askins ’12 to perform classical concert tomorrow
Cellist Maren Askins '12 will perform a classical concert on Sunday, the culmination of her advanced lessons this semester.
Art Smarts: Holmgren’s recital composed of diverse melodies
In her recital next Saturday, Katarina Holmgren '13 will sing selections that range from opera to musical theater pieces.
Art Smarts: World Music Ensemble brings Colombian sounds to life
Music from the southern-Pacific region of Colombia filled Studzinki Recital Hall on Wednesday when the Afro-Colombian Music Ensemble played marimba under the direction of Professor Michael Birenbaum Quintero.
Men’s lacrosse grabs playoff victory over two-seed Amherst
The men's lacrosse team has caught fire and now sits just two wins away from clinching the NESCAC title as it prepares for a rematch with the NESCAC regular season champions, Tufts, on Saturday.
Baseball takes one of three from Jumbos
With the top spot in the division at stake, Bowdoin and Tufts University began a three-game series last weekend in Medford, Mass.
Women’s lax beats Amherst in quarterfinals
The women's lacrosse team secured the second seed in the NESCAC tournament last Friday at Tufts with a 7-6 win over the Jumbos.
Men’s tennis takes four-game winning streak into NESCACs
The men's tennis team finished its regular season in style, with two wins over rivals Trinity and Colby last weekend. On Friday, the 14th-ranked Polar Bears defeated the 15th-ranked Bantams 7-2 at Harvard.
Women’s novice crew team takes gold at New England Rowing Championship
It makes all those mornings of getting up early worthwhile. Last weekend, the crew team cleaned up last weekend in Worchester, Mass. at the at the New England Rowing Championship, which hosts approximately 1,200 athletes representing 36 schools.
Softball team beats Bates by one in final game
The softball team ended its season on a strong note with a 1-0 victory over Bates on Sunday. The game was the last of the season for both teams, who were both eliminated prior to the NESCAC postseason tournament.
Men’s track places sixth at NESCAC championship
The men's track team traveled to Wesleyan last weekend to compete in the NESCAC Track and Field Championships, where the Polar Bears claimed sixth place.
Women’s track takes fifth place at NESCACs
At the NESCAC Championship at Wesleyan University, the women's track team clinched fifth place in a day marked by personal achievements.
Women’s tennis beats Wellesley in last match of regular season
The Polar Bears will play No. 4-seed Middlebury in the first round of the NESCAC Tournament
The women's tennis team wrapped up a successful regular season with a commanding 9-0 victory over Wellesley College this past Saturday on the road.
After bomb scare, sailing posts seventh place finish
The sailing team finished its spring season at the Morris Trophy, hosted by BU, with a squad composed entirely of underclassmen. Coach Frank Pizzo called the event "a preview of next year's team."