Letter: Insight and understanding

In an environment already highly charged with anti-indigenous racism rooted in ignorance and willful disregard of American Indian peoples, your use of the phrase “smoking the peace pipe” cannot be ignored. In your effort to make a case for compromise on the local smoking ban, unfortunately, you draw on colonialist language that relegates Indian people to mere sources of amusement and wit for non-Indian people.

The phrase “smoking the peace pipe” is an English-language translation that distorts culturally meaningful acts of diplomatic exchange. Your use of that phrase points to the need for your staff and the entire UIUC community to gain insight and understanding of American Indian peoples in the United States. UIUC’s American Indian Studies program offers many courses that can help, and we invite you and readers of the DI to enroll in them.

Robert Dale Parker

English and American Indian Studies

Debbie A. Reese

Nambe Pueblo

American Indian Studies

John McKinn

Maricopa, Gila River Indian Community

Native American House

D. Anthony Tyeeme Clark

Meskwaki

American Indian Studies