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Leaders from local Native American tribes and state lawmakers discuss cultural sensitivity in Riverside schools

Riverside Unified School District
Screengrab Youtube
State Assemblymember James Ramos of Highland(center) speaks during a livestream of the special RUSD meeting on Monday, November 15, 2021.

Leaders from local Native American tribes, and state lawmakers met with Riverside Unified School District Monday to discuss cultural sensitivity issues. The meeting comes after a video of a Riverside high school teacher wearing a fake headdress and dancing during a math lesson went viral in October.

Some ideas discussed included hiring more Native American teachers, highlighting accurate examples of Native American culture in history curriculum, and working with local tribes to develop sensitive and informed teaching practices.

Butch Murphy, a member of the Pechanga Tribal Council, near Temecula, raised the importance of not just teaching tribal history, but also who these communities are today.

Also present was a representative from the Cahuilla Indian Reservation east of Temecula, and three state assembly members including, James Ramos of Highland, the first California Indian elected to the assembly, Jose Medina of Riverside, whose bill to make ethnic studies a high school graduation requirement was recently signed into law, and Sabrina Cervantes of Corona.

The teacher involved in the incident is still on leave, while the district continues an investigation.