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Tribal leaders respond to “offensive” lesson at Wausau West High School

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Wausau, Wis. (WAOW) -- Tribal leaders and representatives from across central Wisconsin spoke out following a lesson at Wausau West High School that they say was offensive.

In a statement, an official with the Ho-Chunk Nation says a teacher dressed in a "Native American costume" as part of a history lesson.

Greg Johnson said this situation started when his son, a student at the school, took a photo and sent it to him. He said he was outraged when he received that message, and worried about what kind of impact this will have on students.

"There's a snowball effect when this happens. It happens at a young age," Johnson said. "You grow up with these ignorant thoughts and ignorant ways and our children are subject to that."

Other leaders called for a review of the curriculum at Wausau Schools, and encouraged the district to look to tribal leaders for help.

"They should engage tribal leaders from different tribes to try to figure out how to strengthen the curriculum, they should engage the Wisconsin Indian Education Association," said Tricia Zunker, associate justice for the Ho-Chunk Supreme Court.

Monday, the Wausau School District issued a statement that reads:

“The Wausau School District’s mission is to advance student learning, achievement, and

success. That’s why work is beginning in the District to review curriculum, and its delivery, to

ensure it is respectful to all cultures and heritages. With these changes, the District will be

providing ongoing professional learning for all staff. We are committed to ensuring all students

thrive and there will be positive changes."

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