Stupidity or worse in a history class

Not too terribly far away from me, a history professor should have known better:

“The whole thing started on Wednesday [September 2],” [Chiitaanibah Johnson (Navajo/Maidu), a 19-year-old sophomore student at Cal State Sacramento University] told [Indian Country Today]. “[U.S. History Professor Maury Wiseman] was talking about Native America and he said the word genocide. He paused and said ‘I don’t like to use that word because I think it is too strong for what happened’ and ‘genocide implies that it was on purpose and most native people were wiped out by European diseases.'”[1]

Professor Wiseman is flatly incorrect. Genocide is the attempt to physically or culturally obliterate a people. While there is indeed some dispute as to whether the infection of American Indians with diseases such as small pox was intentional (it probably was, at least in some cases), the systematic mass killing of Indians, the displacement of Indians from their territory, the efforts to divide tribal lands into individual properties and make Indians into individual landowners (freeing up land to be grabbed by whites), and the removal of their children for assimilationist education[2] leave little doubt that genocide was occurring.

Sacramento State University’s History department has denied that Johnson has been disenrolled from Wiseman’s class and states that it is investigating.[3]

  1. [1]Vincent Schilling, “History Professor Denies Native Genocide: Native Student Disagreed, Then Says Professor Expelled Her From Course,” Indian Country Today, September 6, 2015,
  2. [2]Dee Brown, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee: An Indian History of the American West, (New York: Henry Holt, 2001); Jacqueline Fear-Segal, White Man’s Club: Schools, Race, and the Struggle of Indian Acculturation (Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska, 2007); Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (New York: HarperPerennial, 2005).
  3. [3]Vincent Schilling, “Sac State History Dept Tweets – ‘Student Not Disenrolled’,” Indian Country Today, September 6, 2015,

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.