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Mills Native students respond to racist CSULB article

The back of Ciera Cummings' Mills Pow Wow T-shirt. (Anna Corson)

When seniors Ciera Cummings and Shunkila Black Calf asked student government to help fund the April 16 Mills College Pow Wow, they mentioned that an alternative student newspaper ran a culturally insensitive review of Southern California’s largest annual Pow Wow last month.

The March 14 Union Weekly review, titled “POW WOW WOW YIPPEE YO YIPPY YAY,” calls the Cal State University Long Beach (CSULB) Pow Wow “a large, Native American themed flea market” and likens fry bread, a Native American food, to “a Mexican pizza from Taco Bell, but shittier.”

“It was pretty much one of the most blatantly racist, insensitive pieces of writing you can imagine,” said Cummings, a leader of the Mills College Indigenous Women’s Alliance (IWA).

The Native American community at CSULB and beyond it expressed hurt and shock at the offensive review. The CSULB incident followed last year’s UC San Diego frat party mocking Black History Month and last month’s UCLA student YouTube rant “Asians in the Library,” but doesn’t appear to have gotten as much news coverage.

Black Calf, also an IWA leader, said she found the CSULB student review incredibly insulting and disappointing, but not that surprising.

“It’s a confirmation of the kind of ignorance that still persists in the United States,” Black Calf said, “even in places that we think would be more liberal in their thinking like college campuses. That’s not true for people of color. I know that people still have really ignorant stereotypes and ideas about Native Americans.”

In light of all this, there’s a greater need than ever for Mills College to support its indigenous student community, Cummings and Black Calf said.

Main article: Pow Wow tradition continues despite reduced funding