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Stereotype of the Month Entry

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

From: Aimfl@aol.com
Date: Wed Jul 05 14:35:44 2000
Subject: Pasco County School District must be challenged


On June 27, 2000, at Lake Myrtle Elementary School in Land O'Lakes, FL, teacher Maree Marian had her students paint their faces in order to "make the kids feel part of them"—the them being Indians—she told the Saint Petersburg Times.

Having an adult paint the students "would not be in keeping with American Indian tradition" said Ms. Marian. She had the kids paint other students' faces up with symbols of bears, eagles, turtles etc. She further advised the Saint Pete Times she didn't have kids paint mustaches and they could in no way paint the entire face—presumably such would also not be in keeping with the expert Ms. Marian's view of American Indian tradition.

Florida AIM on July 5, 2000, sent a letter to the Pasco County School District demanding such shameful, disrepsectful, racist and intolerable acts stop. We asked if the kids get to play Mass or Crucifixion or perhaps have a play "Torah" in the class room. As they don't get to "play" other religions we demand they halt the similar trivialization of American Indian religion. We also demanded that Ms. Marian be terminated from employment immediatly.

We call on our friends and supporters and human beings of goodwill to email the Pasco County School District at


and demand they halt the desecration and perversion of Indigenous culture and spirituality.

Sincerely. American Indian Movement of FL

Rob's comment
Some schools perform Nativity scenes or sing Christmas songs—although they arguably shouldn't. This face-painting is more problematical for a couple of reasons:

1) Teacher Marian clearly doesn't know Indian traditions as well as most of us know the Nativity tradition. As the press release says, she's "playing" at a solemn ceremony rather than doing it justice.

2) Perhaps more important, she's perpetuating at least a couple of stereotypes:  a) Indians as barbaric people who paint their faces like savages, and b) Indians as uncultured people who paint decorative images that lack meaning.

I suggest that from now on, no Florida school undertake anything to do with Native Americans without checking with them first. <g>

Related links
Another screw-up committed by a Florida school
The trouble with face-painting
Indian wannabes and imitators

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