As you saw on Slog earlier today, Sydney Brownstone reported that Washington has become the second state in the US to require its public schools to teach Native American history.
Washington, in other words, is mandating that its history courses stop lying, by either omission or other falsification. This would be more admirable if the state were also providing adequate funding for the initiative.
Montana provides $4.4 million to Washington's $300,000. Because WA has more than seven times the number of public-school students as MT, Washington would have to spend at least $30.8 million simply to fund at the same level as Montana. I already hear a chorus of people saying, "But hey! It's good we're doing anything!" I agree with this person that we've come to a time in our national history when we really don't need to award trophies for righting profound wrongs.
In Brownstone's story, I couldn't help but notice the detail that 29 state representatives and senators voted against the bill. I wondered who those folks were. Here's a list, Democrats first. I wrote to five officials to ask why they voted against (because they seemed more likely to be supporters from reading their biographies), but if you're curious, e-mail your representative to ask. (You can see the outcome of the vote by clicking on "View Roll Calls.")
Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline). E-mail.
Her online biography includes her involvement with the Seattle Indian Center. She has not yet responded to my e-mail asking for her perspective.
UPDATE. Chase provided this emailed statement: "I have long advocated the teaching of tribal history, culture and government; that is a position that has not, and will not, change. I voted against Senate Bill 5433, a bill requiring public schools to include the teaching of tribal history, culture and government, not because I disagree with its aim but because it was flawed legislation that recognizes some tribes and not others. Exclusion is a terrible lesson to teach our children, not to mention a disgraceful slap in the face of the Chinook Indians who have worked hard to document and maintain their history and heritage. I supported an amendment on the floor that would have included, instead of excluded, the Chinooks. When that amendment was rejected, I could not in good conscience vote for legislation that is clearly discriminatory. I stand by my vote as well as my insistence that Washington recognize all tribes, including the Chinook and also the Duwamish, the ancestral tribe of Chief Seattle yet also not recognized."
Rep. Brian Blake (D-Aberdeen). E-mail.
Rep. Blake—who writes in his online biography, "Brian’s ancestors settled in Southwest Washington before statehood"—proposed an amendment that would expand the legislation to include tribes that are not yet federally recognized, but that are seeking federal recognition (for instance, the Duwamish or the Chinook). I asked him why he voted against, and whether his decision had to do with the failure of his proposed amendment. Does he not believe the law goes far enough? He has not yet responded to my e-mail.
Rep. Jake Fey (D-Tacoma). E-mail.
Given some of Rep. Fey's affiliations, he seemed like someone who might vote yes. I asked him over e-mail, and he wrote back, "Hi, Thanks for the note. Actually I made a mistake to vote against the bill. I intended to vote for it. Hard to admit but I don't always get things right." I wrote back to ask if he recalled how it happened, but Rep. Fey didn't respond immediately. (I will update if/when he does.)
UPDATE. Fey emailed: "As I recall the situation I misunderstood the debate and wish that [I] had consulted some of my colleagues about the vote."
Rep. Carol Gregory (D-Federal Way). E-mail.
Rep. Gregory was president of Federal Way's School Board and former head of the state teachers' union when she was appointed in January to replace her elected predecessor, Roger Freeman, after he died of cancer. Rep. Gregory writes, in her online biography, that "my life and career have been all about education." I e-mailed to ask why she voted no on accurate history education, but she hasn't yet responded.
Rep. Dean Takko (D-Longview). E-mail.
Rep. Takko graduated in 1968 from Wahkiakum High School in his district in Wahkiakum County, named after a Chinook chief. I e-mailed to ask the representative what he learned of tribal history in that high school, and why he voted against the bill. He hasn't yet responded. (Hatfield, Blake, and Takko all represent the 19th District, Chinook territory, and Hatfield and Blake were the two who tried to get non-federally recognized tribes like the Chinook included in the legislation. Stranger writer Brownstone told me that the curriculum training she attended encouraged non-federally recognized tribal collaboration, too—like with the Duwamish.)
UPDATE. Takko emailed: "I did not vote for it because it did not include the non federally recognized tribes such as the Chinooks."
Sen. Jan Angel (R-Port Orchard), who in her first term, according to Wikipedia, "served as the ranking minority member of the Community Development Housing & Tribal Affairs Committee." E-mail.
Sen. Sharon Brown (R-Kennewick). E-mail.
Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Ferndale). E-mail.
Sen. Mike Hewitt (R-Walla Walla). E-mail.
Sen. Mike Padden (R-Spokane Valley). E-mail.
Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-Granger). E-mail.
Rep. Richard DeBolt (R-Chehalis). E-mail.
Rep. Mark Hargrove (R-Covington). E-mail.
Rep. Brad Hawkins (R-Wenatchee). E-mail.
Rep. Jeff Holy (R-Cheney). E-mail.
Rep. Graham Hunt (R-Orting). E-mail.
Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick). E-mail.
Rep. Joel Kretz (R-Wauconda). E-mail.
Rep. Bob McCaslin (R-Spokane Valley). E-mail.
Rep. Terry Nealey (R-Dayton). E-mail.
Rep. Ed Orcutt (R-Kalama). E-mail.
Rep. Joe Schmick (R-Colfax). E-mail.
Rep. Elizabeth Scott (R-Monroe). E-mail.
Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley). E-mail.
Rep. Shelly Short (R-Addy). E-mail.
Rep. David Taylor (R-Moxee). E-mail.
Rep. Brandon Vick (R-Felida). E-mail.
Rep. Jesse Young (R-Gig Harbor). E-mail.