This program presented by Arla Patch (www.arlapatch.com) seeks to foster greater understanding and empathy for Native Americans. Ms. Patch shared information about the historical context and impact of the shared history non-Native communities have with Indigenous Peoples in New Jersey, both past and present. Also included was a video featuring Native American voices in New Jersey and the Delaware Valley.

The second presentation was held at the on November 16 at the Ujima Village Christian Church in Ewing. The first presentation took place on October 2 and was held at the Princeton Public Library. Both events were well attended and well-received by audience members

Notes Kidsbridge Executive Director, Lynne Azarchi, “Having recently learned the extent to which Native American tribes in New Jersey are undermined and not respected by both our state and national governments, Kidsbridge decided to partner with experts and Native Americans in New Jersey to illuminate the lack of deference and social justice for Indigenous Peoples. Kidsbridge offers a session for middle schoolers and their teachers to help them critically evaluate sports teams — those that feature Native American stereotypes as their mascots.”

Three important take-aways from the presentations include:

  1. Attendees learned many pieces of our history with Native American people that we weren’t taught in school: for instance, Native people couldn’t vote until 1954.
  2. We also learned that the three tribes in New Jersey lost their State recognition in the Christie administration based on faulty information.
  3. Learning the true meaning of “redskin,” (i.e. scalps) and how offensive it is to perpetuate head dresses, war paint and other accessories associated with a stereotyped “Indian.”

Individuals attending the presentation may want to become allies to the cause of facilitating in the transformation of school mascots into symbols that aren’t caricatures or racial slurs, but instead are tasteful and respectful.

Individuals reacted differently to the information that Ms. Patch shared. One response was particularly touching: “We were all heartened to learn that an African American member of the audience shared with his Pastor that he did not know the history of Native Americans and the struggles they faced. It really hit him hard, and as a result, the young man has discarded all the paraphernalia of his favorite – or should we say, former favorite — football team, the Washington ‘Redskins.’”

Partners NJ Council for the Humanities, Not in Our Town: Princeton, and the Historical Society of Princeton all agreed and supported, along with Kidsbridge, this unique and timely presentation by Ms. Patch.  Click here to print out/view a flyer that summarizes all the details.

Photos from the presentation appear below.