Tags: university of wisconsin-stout | native americans | murals | controversial | college

Wisconsin College Moves Controversial Murals of Native Americans

Image: Wisconsin College Moves Controversial Murals of Native Americans

(Photo via University of Wisconsin-Stout)

By    |   Monday, 08 Aug 2016 03:06 PM

The University of Wisconsin-Stout is moving two murals that depict scenes from Wisconsin history, after the school's Diversity Leadership Team warned that they could be harmful to Native American students, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.

"There's a segment of Native American students, that when they look at the art, to them it symbolizes an era of their history where land and possessions were taken away from them, and they feel bad when they look at them," school chancellor Bob Meyer said.

The school's Diversity Leadership Team met with Meyer and he ruled that there was a risk that the paintings would have "a harmful effect" on students and other people who saw them, according to the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Meyer told Wisconsin Public Radio that the decision is not based on political correctness.

"We want to make sure that, really, what we decorate our hallways with and what we put in our hallways is consistent with our values to try to attract more Native Americans to the university," Meyer said.

One mural shows French fur traders and Native Americans traveling by canoe on the Red Cedar River. Another shows a wooden fort.

The paintings were commissioned by the Works Progress Administration in 1936, and were done by artist Cal Peters, a Wisconsin native, according to the public radio report.

The NCAC's report said the paintings would be placed in storage. Meanwhile, Wisconsin Public Radio's report said that the paintings would be moved out of common areas and into the Harvey Hall library and a dean's conference room.

An English and philosophy professor at the university, Timothy Shiell, expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision.

"Shrouding or moving the painting does not educate anyone or stimulate any learning or dialogue," Shiell said. He said, "American history and representations of that history can be ugly and offensive. But hiding them doesn't change the past or the future."

Similar incidents have occurred at other colleges around the U.S.

At the University of Kentucky, a mural depicting African-American slaves was taken down after students objected, according to the NCAC.

A Yale University dining services worker Corey Menafee broke a window that depicted slaves. He resigned, apologized and Yale offered Menafee his job back.

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The University of Wisconsin-Stout is moving two murals that depict scenes from Wisconsin history, after the school's Diversity Leadership Team warned that they could be harmful to Native American students, according to Wisconsin Public Radio.
university of wisconsin-stout, native americans, murals, controversial, college
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2016-06-08
Monday, 08 Aug 2016 03:06 PM
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