Friday, May 15, 2009

ICT: Don't reinstate Churchill

There's some "colonialist" drivel in there, but professor emerita Elizabeth Lyn-Cook in Indian Country Today nails one aspect of the case that was hardly touched on by CU's defense:

Actually, the case that should have been tried against Mr. Churchill was a case of fraud, identity theft and scholarly misconduct which Native scholars (who were largely absent from the court as witnesses during the free speech case) have understood from the beginning. The spectacle of Churchill’s claim to Indian heritage has been an ongoing scandal, unfortunately an unchecked plague in the field of Indian studies for which there seems to be no remedy. . . .

It has been known in Native academic circles that Churchill has consistently “ghost” written works and published them under the names of others, then used them as objective sources to support his own perverted histories. This issue of scholarly misconduct alone should be enough to disqualify Churchill from joining the community of Native scholars who know how to do research and apply the rules of academia.

Indeed, when Churchill was hired in his position, several Native American scholars spoke against his hiring during the vetting process, to no avail. It is not only inappropriate, it is another example of colonial domination to allow Churchill to further damage an emerging discipline like Indian studies, which has already been complicated by the ideological grounding of White America’s values and supremacy.

It was never a case of “wrongful termination.” It is not a case of “having a chilling effect on scholars,” as the Society of American Law Teachers has written. It is not a question of “diverse” access. It is a question of allowing an egotistical, failed and disreputable scholar to corrupt the long-overdue emergence of one of the most significant disciplines in academia – Indian studies – to emerge and develop appropriate standards to finally tell the essential story of America in history, politics and literature.

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