Dreamstarter Sara Chase Voices Support of “Early Days” Statue Removal

2017 Running Strong for American Indian Youth® Dreamstarter Sara Chase realized her dream of starting a summer immersion class to teach Hupa youth the endangered Hupa language, and not only did her dream come true in the summer of 2017, it continued in 2018 making it an annual event.

Meanwhile, Sara is continuing to realize her own personal dream at the University of California at Berkeley as a first year PhD student in the Graduate School of Education in the Language, Literacy and Culture program after earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Native American Studies and Linguistics from Columbia University.

On September 24, Sara was quoted in an article in The Guardian headlined “A 124-year-old statue reviled by Native Americans – and how it came down” reporting on the removal on September 14 of the Early Days statue in San Francisco, a symbol of colonization and oppression to many.

Erected in the aftermath of the California mission era, the Early Days statue depicts a Native American on his back, defeated, a Catholic priest above him pointing to the heavens, and an anglicized vaquero bestriding the scene in triumph, The Guardian reported.

The statue is part of the Pioneer Movement celebrating the state’s origins, but Native Americans saw it as dehumanizing art but no one had managed to convince politicians to take it down, until diverse city boards, as well as backlash against Eurocentric depictions of dominance, that change came.

Sara told The Guardian that California schools fail to provide accurate perspectives of Native Americans and other minorities.

For example, while adults taught in the state’s schools may recall doing projects about the missions without learning of Native genocide so they simply don’t know the facts.

“California schools teach for tests or lose [public funding],” she told The Guardian. “So certain histories of people are not taught

“It’s a test-taking obsession, monetization of knowledge.”

In August, three UC Berkley departments came together to offer a designated emphasis in indigenous language revitalization for doctoral students, recognizing student efforts to teach and learn Native language, reported The Daily Californian in August.

The designated emphasis in indigenous language revitalization has been developed by the Native American studies program under the department of ethnic studies as well as the linguistics department and the Graduate School of Education. A designated emphasis is similar to a minor for graduate students on a doctoral track, according to the Graduate Division’s website.

Coursework for the program was designed in a collaborative process between students and faculty members from each department, according to Sara, who was a member of the planning committee and is now in the program.

Each department developed components of the program that would complement and support each other, Chase said.

Over the past two years, Chase has worked on a language immersion program for young children from the Hoopa Valley Tribe.

She designs lesson plans with the help of her aunt, who is a native speaker of the Hupa language. She is now using this work as her “practicum” — a hands-on project related to language revitalization — for the designated emphasis.

Click here to read the The Guardian article.

Click here to learn more about involvement with the indigenous language project for doctoral students.

Click here to learn more about her Dreamstarter project.

Click here to read the update on her 2018 summer camp

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