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Lakotas For Human Rights
|Press Release||White Calf v. Naropa|
Lydia White Calf
Govt Lakota, Dakota, Nakota Nations US & Canada
|Links||Press and Media|
To: All Press and Media dateline 09/08/1999, Boulder, CO
Tribal leaders have traveled to Boulder, CO to
examine charges of cultural genocide leveled at Naropa Institute in a lawsuit
to be filed by Indian activist attorney Mr. Lee Hill on behalf of former
Naropa student, Mrs. Lydia White Calf. Attorney Hill has been one of Leonard
Ms. White Calf is married to an enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Nation. In court papers White Calf charges Naropa with Fraud and Intentional Misrepresentation, sponsoring "Spiritual Hucksterism," "spiritual tourism," Negligent Hiring and Supervision, Harassment, and outrageous conduct in an attempt to conceal the truth about its very profitable, but corrupt, "Native American Studies Program."
The complaint states that Naropa was made aware by White Calf of the illegal use of animal body parts such as feathers and eagle bones by non-natives, a violation of Federal Law. Naropa published advertisements, catalogs and course descriptions claiming "Native American Studies" courses were taught by qualified, competent and appropriately credentialed faculty. This was false. The complaint charges that certain of the faculty were completely unqualified and that the courses taught distorted Indian issues and presented inaccurate information. Despite complaints, Naropa did nothing to correct the problems.
Well-known Indian activist Russell Means, a leader of the traditional Lakota Nation and leader of the American Indian Movement along with other supporters is traveling to Boulder to appear at the press conference with Ms. White Calf . Mr. Means is a staunch advocate of Indian Rights, traditional culture and spirituality who stood at Wounded Knee on Pine Ridge Reservation during the 1973 standoff with the U.S. government.
Mr. Rudy James, Leader of the Kuiu Thlingit Nation of Alaska and Chairman of the United Native Nations (an international Indigenous organization) has flown into Boulder for the press conference following meeting with California gaming tribes. James' Tribe made international headlines for the banishment of two Thlingit youth to remote tribal islands in Alaska.
Boulder attorney, Mr. Lee Hill will file suit against the Naropa Institute in Boulder District Court Thursday, September 9, 1999 at 9:00 am. The Press Conference will follow on the steps of the Courthouse. Mr. Hill and others will be available to answer questions following the filing.
To Whom It May Concern,
This letter of Support is sanctioned
by the International Traditional Government of the Lakota, Dakota, Nakota
Nations, which pertains to the Traditional Juridical Jurisdiction which
We still Retain, which Encompasses the whole Louisiana Purchase Area into
Canada; also the State of Colorado is located within Our Juridical Jurisdiction.
Whereas: Royce and Lydia WhiteCalf are within Our Jurisdiction,
We support their Action of Protecting Our Spirituality, Culture, Language, which is attached to Our People, Children, Air, Land, Water and Resources;
Whereas: We as a nation are utilizing the Genocide Treaty, Internationally, in Protecting Our rights here in the U.S.A. and Canada;
Whereas: We support their Legal Proceedings in their Litigation in the Domestic Imposed Courts in the U.S.A.;
However, as in Due Process this could be Adjudicated at the level of The International War Crimes Tribunal.
Whereas: We as a Nation are working at that Level;
Let this be a Lesson and Warning to the Abusers and Exploiters of Our Peoples and Our Resources.
The Traditional Lakota, Dakota,
Nakota Nations Internationally
Treaty Chief Richard Grass
Antoinette Red Woman, Secretary of the Lakota Nation
Chief Richard Grass
PO Box 1134, Rapid City, S.D. 57706
1. Lydia and Royce White Calf are residents of Boulder County; they are not in the military service. S. Ferreria is Lydia White Calf’s minor child. A. White Calf and W. White Calf are minor children of Lydia and Royce White Calf. All three children live with their parents in Boulder County. The tortious acts that are the subject of this action were completed within Boulder County. Accordingly, venue is proper in Boulder County.
2. The Naropa Institute is a self-described institute of higher learning, doing business in the State of Colorado, in Boulder, Colorado.
3. In response to nationally circulated advertisements and descriptions of courses of study in its published catalogs, Lydia White Calf (White Calf) enrolled in Naropa Institute in the Spring of 1995 as a full time student studying "Humanistic Psychology", minoring in "Native American Studies" with the goal of receiving an education in this field and obtaining a bachelors degree. Initially paying approximately $350.00 per credit hour, Lydia took an average 12 credits per semester and excelled in her courses, maintaining a 3.9 out of a possible 4.0 grade point average.
4. Lydia White Calf, a Euro-American, is married to a full-blood, enrolled Oglala Lakota American Indian, Royce White Calf, of the Federally recognized Oglala Sioux Tribe (AKA the Oglala Band of the Lakota Nation). Together they raise Lydia’s daughter from a previous marriage, S. Ferreria, along with two sons of their own, (A. White Calf and W. White Calf) who are both enrolled members of the Federally recognized Oglala Sioux Tribe. The youngest son, A. White Calf, was a nursing infant during the events that are the subject of this complaint.
5. Because Naropa advertised their "Native American Studies Program", housed within Naropa’s "Environmental Studies" department, to be taught by qualified, competent and appropriately credentialed faculty, Lydia White Calf (Lydia) enrolled in some of the advertised classes. Naropa informed Lydia and others through their advertisements, course catalogs and direct representations that the Native American Studies curricula had been designed by a self-described enrolled American Indian named Eagle Cruz, (Cruz) was also said to have established himself as a "recognized ceremonial leader of the Oglala Lakota Nation", the same Indian Nation that Lydia’s husband and sons are enrolled in. (See Naropa program and course descriptions attached as Exhibit "A").
6. Lydia reasonably relied upon the course descriptions, advertisements and representations provided by Naropa. These materials and statements represented that Cruz was an enrolled Yaqui Indian born on the Pasqua Yaqui reservation and later adopted into the Oglala Sioux Tribe (AKA the Oglala Band of the Lakota Nation). Naropa’s published faculty biographical information further described Cruz as having an undergraduate degree in Asian languages from the University of California at Davis and teaching experience at California’s "Redlands University".
7. Shortly after she began her "Native American Studies" courses at Naropa, Lydia White Calf recognized glaring problems with the courses. While the textbooks on the courses’ reading lists were genuine and informative, the course presentation appeared to be contrived and disingenuous. Incongruously, each class session was opened by a European-American with no indigenous North American Indian ethnicity beating a drum and singing Lakota sacred songs ordinarily reserved for appropriate and controlled circumstances. The instruction by Eagle Cruz was non-didactic, but anecdotal, did not incorporate or even directly relate to the textbooks listed for the classes, and amounted, essentially, to nothing more than Eagle Cruz’s own introduction to traditional Lakota ceremonial practices. The classes bore little resemblance to the course descriptions of the offered classes. Eagle Cruz directly facilitated students’ access to Lakota ceremony, including ones he conducted himself.
8. Naropa students who had paid to participate in Cruz’s classes and in other classes offered at Naropa through their "Environmental Studies" department were encouraged to participate in "experiential learning" that amounted to recreated Lakota -style ceremonies, represented as bona fide Lakota ceremonies, initiated and supervised by non-Lakota people and, typically, by non-Indian People.
9. During these ceremonies and during classes taught by Cruz and others under Naropa’s "Environmental Studies" program, various animal body parts (including but not limited to eagle feathers, eagle bones and other body parts regulated by federal law) were possessed by Cruz, other faculty and faculty assistants, and used and circulated among the students.
10. Lydia White Calf began to appropriately question the authenticity of the presentations, along with the qualifications and integrity of Eagle Cruz and other faculty and faculty assistants. She specifically expressed concern that: a) Use of animal body parts such as Eagle feathers by non-federally enrolled American Indians was a violation of Federal Law; b) That the sacred songs were being performed inappropriately by non-Lakota people in contexts offensive to Lakota traditional values; c) That Lakota culture, tradition and ceremony were being presented by non-Lakota people inaccurately and without appropriate preparation, context or permission; d) That charging tuition for Lakota ceremonial instruction was directly inimical to Lakota tradition and amounted to misappropriation of Lakota ceremony and culture; e) That the teachers were unqualified and frequently misinformed; f) That Naropa was sponsoring "Spiritual Hucksterism" at the expense of the Oglala Lakota Nation; g) That the Native American Studies Program at Naropa encouraged and enabled a cavalier "spiritual tourism" among its students and faculty inculcating an accompanying callous disregard for the integrity and preservation of Oglala Lakota ceremonial ways and culture; and h) That these practices contributed to a growing problem of Cultural Genocide of the Oglala Lakota, causing distorted views of that culture and causing disintegration of that culture’s unity and traditional values among other deleterious effects.
11. As she began to raise these issues, Lydia White Calf was immediately insulted and ridiculed by Cruz and other Naropa Staff and Administrators. The more questions White Calf asked, the more she was attacked. Her grades were lowered unfairly, her reputation, integrity and sanity were disparaged and a general climate of escalating hostility toward her by faculty, staff and students was cultivated and encouraged by Naropa. Lydia lost all her friends at Naropa among faculty, staff and students, and was denied basic services and courtesy by Naropa staff members as a result of Naropa’s defensive campaign to discredit her.
12. On several occasions, Royce White Calf attended Naropa Native American Studies classes and observed the abuses broadly referenced above. Lydia’s children frequently attended these classes with her and observed the abuses. Royce and the children directly observed Lydia being ridiculed, insulted and marginalized by Naropa faculty, staff and students. Naropa permitted classes in which these issues of cultural misappropriation and cultural genocide were "featured", with Naropa utilizing these forums to defend its programs and attack Lydia’s position. During these classes, Lydia White Calf was marginalized, dismissed and defamed. In one such class Lorraine Fox Davis, senior advisor to the Native American Studies Department and a self-described "Native Elder" referred to Lydia as a "Virus". Many of these incidents were directly observed by Lydia’s husband and by the children.
13. Broad disdain against Lydia White Calf was displayed by fabricated and inaccurate complaints of Lydia violating student conduct standards. When Lydia attempted to have these and other issues resolved under Naropa’s published grievance procedures, she was rebuked, insulted and marginalized by Naropa Dean of Students, Sherry Elms, who, in response to Lydia’s remarks that Eagle Cruz was not recognized by the Oglala Lakota Tribe, commented, ""Tribe? You know there is no tribe, it’s just a large group of very confused people." Later, a written letter signed by Naropa president, John Cobb, threatened Lydia with expulsion.
14. Lydia continued to respectfully attempt to call constructive attention to these critical issues. Unsupported in her efforts by Naropa, and under attack, Lydia turned for assistance to her lawyer and a private investigator who arranged to research and investigate the published qualifications and background of Eagle Cruz. Lydia learned that Naropa’s published information about Eagle Cruz’s background was unsubstantiated and false.
15. Specifically, Naropa had claimed that Cruz was born in 1948 and raised for the first ten years of his life on a Yaqui Indian reservation in Southern Arizona where he was an enrolled member of the Yaqui Tribe. In fact, there was no Yaqui reservation in the United States until 1978, thus it was impossible for a person to have been born on a Yaqui reservation in 1948. The Yaqui Tribal enrollment offices also maintain that Eagle Cruz (AKA Weston Aguila Cruz) has never been an enrolled tribal member. Naropa had listed Eagle Cruz’s academic qualifications as including a Bachelor’s Degree in Asian Languages from University of California at Davis. According to UC-Davis, Cruz has never attended that institution at any time. Naropa had advertised that Eagle Cruz had taught at Redlands University. According to the administrative office of the Redlands University, Eagle Cruz has never been employed at the College in any capacity. Claims that Cruz was a recognized traditional ceremonial leader of the Oglala Lakota Nation and that he was adopted by the Lakota people and that he is qualified to teach the traditional ways of the Oglala Lakota have been controverted by traditional Oglala Lakota elders, the Gray Eagle’s (the authoritative organizational voice of traditional Lakota ceremony and culture) and by two administrations of the Oglala Nation’s democratically elected Tribal Council. Cruz has never been recognized as a traditional ceremonial leader by the Oglala Lakota. Significantly, the very phrase, "traditional ceremonial leader" is not a recognized title by the Oglala Lakota. The use of this title is further evidence of Naropa’s inimical distortion of Oglala Lakota culture and tradition. Finally, public records searches revealed that Eagle Cruz had presented to public officials two different social security numbers belonging to other persons as his own.
16. Despite Lydia’s disclosure of Eagle Cruz’s background ambiguities, Naropa’s abusive treatment continued. Lydia White Calf was ostracized by faculty, administration and staff. She was ridiculed, marginalized, and defamed. Eventually, the climate became intolerable and she withdrew from Naropa.
The following claims incorporate all content of this complaint.
Intentional Misrepresentation and Fraud
17. In advertisements, course descriptions, Internet postings, and in lectures and statements to Naropa students and Lydia White Calf, Naropa claimed that Cruz was born in 1948 and raised for the first ten years of his life on a Yaqui Indian reservation in Southern Arizona. In fact, there was no Yaqui reservation in the United States until 1978, thus it was impossible for a person to have been born on a Yaqui reservation in 1948. The Yaqui Tribal enrollment offices also maintain that Eagle Cruz (AKA Weston Aguila Cruz) has never been an enrolled tribal member.
18. According to UC-Davis, Cruz has never attended that institution at any time.
19. According to the administrative office of the Redlands University, Eagle Cruz has never been employed at the College in any capacity.
20. Claims that Cruz was a recognized traditional spiritual leader of the Oglala Lakota Nation and that he was adopted by the Lakota people and he is qualified to teach the traditional ways of the Oglala Lakota have been controverted by traditional Oglala Lakota elders, the Gray Eagle’s (the authoritative organizational voice of traditional Lakota ceremony and culture) and by two administrations of the Oglala Nation’s democratically elected Tribal Council. Cruz has never been recognized as a spiritual leader by the Lakota.
21. Eagle Cruz was an employee of The Naropa Institute. His acts and misrepresentations were ratified and endorsed by Naropa Institute. His classes were among the best attended at Naropa and plaintiff is informed and believes Cruz’s classes generated millions of dollars in tuition income for Naropa Institute. Naropa, as Cruz’s employer and as a "University" had a duty to insure the qualifications and integrity of its faculty and deliberately and negligently failed to do so with respect to its "Native American Studies" program. Naropa had a duty to not misrepresent the qualifications of its instructors. Lydia White Calf reasonably relied upon Naropa’s false representations regarding Eagle Cruz to her damage and loss when she enrolled in his classes and paid the tuition fees to attend them.
22. Naropa harassed Lydia White Calf. They directly and indirectly retaliated against the plaintiff for "whistle blowing". Cruz and other members of the administrative and teaching staff singled Lydia White Calf out in her classes in order to censure her for activities unrelated to the subject of the class. Members of the administration pulled her out of class and verbally abused her for simply participating in class activities.
Negligent Hiring and Supervision
23. The Naropa Institute represented to its students that its classes on Indian culture and issues were taught by qualified teachers with appropriate credentials. Naropa had and has a continuing duty to ensure that its faculty are providing adequate education for its students. Eagle Cruz’s classes were inauthentic and did not deliver their advertised content. To the extent the classes and presentations offered anything, it was marginalization and stereotyping of traditional Lakota ways and ceremony. These acts contribute to and amount to cultural genocide against the Oglala Lakota People. Naropa hired and retained an instructor without a college degree or any other substantiated qualifications. Naropa had a duty to verify Cruz’s background which it failed to do.
Breach of Duty
24. Naropa has an implicit duty to provide adequate education and to ensure that its students are protected from harassment on its campus. Lydia White Calf paid tuition to attend Naropa with the understanding that she would gain knowledge and information from legitimate professors who were what they advertised themselves to be and that her degree from that institution would have meaning and value. Lydia White Calf gained nothing of value in exchange for her tuition and other incurred expenses during the past three years at Naropa. Naropa has failed to meet the basic standards of a higher education institution.
Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress
25. Cruz and other members of Naropa faculty verbally abused and embarrassed Lydia White Calf in front of her peers and classmates, as well as Royce White Calf and Lydia’s children. They intentionally singled her out in class to reprimand and criticize her opinions as a way of retaliating against her. Lydia White Calf was silenced each and every time she voiced her opinion in class regardless of the subject matter. Lydia White Calf was systematically isolated and alienated from other students and faculty and made to feel shame. She has suffered great emotional distress and has had to seek psychiatric counseling and medication. Her husband and children have been directly impacted and affected. The children and Royce White Calf have suffered from Lydia’s diminished availability to provide support and companionship. Royce White Calf has suffered loss of consortium due to Lydia’s severe emotional distress. The full degree of impact upon the entire family has been and continues to be devastating.
26. Additionally, Royce White Calf, A. White Calf and W. White Calf, as enrolled members of the Oglala Lakota Nation, have directly suffered emotional distress deriving from Naropa’s attacks, distortions, misappropriation and other activities that comprise Cultural Genocide against the Oglala Lakota People.
27. Lorraine Fox Davis, one of Naropa instructors referred to White Calf as a "virus" while lecturing a classroom of students. Naropa memos and newspapers implied White Calf had an irrational or insane agenda to attack the credibility and delivery of Native American Studies courses. These statements were false and injurious to White Calf’s reputation. These statements were defamatory per se.
28. Without justification, Naropa’s conduct created an atmosphere at Naropa Institute that was intolerable for plaintiff. Naropa was motivated by a desire to protect its lucrative "Native American Studies" program from being revealed as the empty sham that it was. Lydia White Calf, after calling attention to the problems referenced above, was compelled to withdraw from Naropa Institute because of the intolerable, hostile atmosphere Naropa created and sustained in an effort to silence her legitimate inquiries into the authenticity of the Native American Studies program and "whistle blowing".
29. The White Calfs suffered and continue to suffer severe emotional distress caused by Naropa’s abusive treatment of Lydia White Calf and the culture of the Oglala Lakota. Plaintiffs’ health, reputation, academic career and earning capacity have been grievously impacted by Naropa’s sinister propaganda and harassment campaign favoring Eagle Cruz and discrediting Lydia. Naropa’s conduct was willful, outrageous and designed to obscure and conceal the truth about its profitable "Native American Studies" program Plaintiffs seek exemplary damages, recovery of costs plus fees and any and all further relief as this court may order.
30. Plaintiffs request a trial by jury.
Respectfully submitted on this
9th day of September, 1999.
W. Lee Hill, #18236
Attorney for Plaintiff
P.O. Box 21181
Boulder, Colorado 80308
Tel. (303) 449-9244