Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 8:25 am | Overcast 53º


Carpinteria Group Calls for More Cultural Education in Schools

In response to furor over Warriors mascot, Unified Carpinterians aims to raise awareness of history and sensitivity

Frustrated with the lack of available educational support in response to Carpinteria Unified School District’s Board of Education ruling to ban Native American imagery in district schools, local residents have taken the matter into their own hands. Calling themselves Unified Carpinterians, the newly minted all-volunteer grassroots organization’s mission is to educate, promote respectful dialogue, and unify the community regarding the issue of the use of Native American imagery in Carpinteria’s schools, according to the Rev. Toni Stuart, spokeswoman for Unified Carpinterians.

“A courageous high school student has come forward to say the use of the Indian mascot for athletic teams is disrespectful to his people. That should be enough,” Stuart noted. “We are a multicultural society. The way we make it work is to respect each other’s culture. We’re not very good at it yet. We have a lot to learn, but let’s begin!”

Film screenings, panel discussions, art shows and theater are some the ways the group aims to fill in the gaps of Native American studies education. They’ll also be drawing from the knowledge pool at local colleges such as UCSB and Santa Barbara City College.

“I’m appreciative that we have this opportunity (with Unified Carpinterians) to truly educate ourselves and our communities on not just cultural sensitivity, but accurate history of the Chumash and other tribes, that has obviously been missing in our local high school and primary education system,” said Monique Sonoquie, director of the Indigenous Youth Foundation Inc. and lecturer at UCSB, Indigenous Studies classes.

“I look forward to working with the school district and local families to achieve a higher standard of education, respect and humanity for our children’s education and community spirit.”

To kick off its mission, Unified Carpinterians will show The Canary Effect, an award-winning documentary on the historic realities of the American Indian, on June 20 at the Carpinteria Valley Arts Council. There will be an accompanying art show, a discussion prior to the screening, and brief wrap-up after the film. The event is coordinated by United Carpinterians members Ashleigh Brown and Frank Arredondo of SBCC’s newly formed Native American Awareness Club. The community is invited to attend.

For more information on Unified Carpinterians, contact Stuart at 805.684.3926.

— Bob Smith is a member of Unified Carpinterians.

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