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Student group, professor discuss Gregori Murals

first_imgThe Native American Student Association of Notre Dame (NASAND) hosted a town hall Tuesday to discuss the representation of Native Americans in Luigi Gregori’s murals depicting the life of Christopher Columbus located in the Main Building. NASAND vice president, senior Armani Vaniko Porter, and professor of art history Michael Schreffler reflected on the significance of the murals and answered questions from audience members.Schreffler said art historians would not expect 19th-century paintings to be historically accurate representations of the subjects they portray.“It would be like sort of expecting a Hollywood film to be accurate,” Schreffler said of the murals. “What’s interesting about them certainly is the relationship between the story that is being told but at the same time, the attitudes of the people who hired the painter and the attitudes of the painter.”The murals draw a parallel between the life of Columbus and the founding of the University, Schreffler said, and some of the paintings include figures from the University.“In some ways it parallels the story of the University of Notre Dame as it’s conveyed, for instance, on the University website, which is also sort of an against-all-odds story — financial struggles in this undertaking, hard winters,” Schreffler said. “There were other barriers as well — the fire of 1879 [in] the administration building. So that’s how I see it. The purpose, I would say, is to construct an identity or participate in constructing an identity for the University.”Porter said, however, that the murals send a symbolic message of oppression. The paintings’ portrayals of Native Americans is an example of this message.“I actually took my first visit to Notre Dame after being accepted,” he said. “I remember just walking down the halls and not really having a lot of words at first. One of the first things that came out to me when I first saw it was just how strong the power differential is in every single one of these paintings. The fact that that is so heavily emphasized is the thing that stood out the most to me.”For Porter, the murals reflect a tendency to ignore differences in students’ cultural backgrounds.“In our fervor to make the Notre Dame community, we inadvertently homogenize and we strip away that which makes us unique or that which makes us culturally unique,” Porter said. “And that is something that is inherently oppressive to those who are of minority populations.”During the question and answer session, Julie Dye, a member of the Pokagon band of Potawatomi Indians in Indiana who attended the town hall, said the murals portray a stereotype of Native Americans that is often promulgated in schools.“We have a problem in this country with education from kindergarten on up … and we need to correct that,” Dye said. “This would be a good start. And by removing these murals, I’m not asking to destroy them, but remove them and put them somewhere else. Because if you just put a plaque up, you’re missing out because the visual impact of art is a big part.”Carla Getz, who is also a member of Pokagon band, said she is also frustrated with the representation of Native Americans in the murals.“According to all the murals and the statues, we all look like alike. We didn’t. We don’t look alike,” Getz said. “We don’t dress alike. We have things that are indigenous to our own culture, to our own tribe, and that’s all being forgotten.”Though Porter said he believes the murals should be taken down, he said others within NASAND fear that removing the murals would erase the “true history” of Notre Dame’s relationship with Native Americans.“We have groups that may wish to keep them up, but to have a strong and decisive explanation of what occurred … an addressing of what has occurred, what is our true history,” Porter said. “We have to come to grips with that, regardless of how embarrassing or dirty it might be or look to the administration.”Tags: Gregori Murals, Main Building, Native American Student Association of Notre Dame, Pokagon Potawatomilast_img read more

Governor Wolf Statement on First Meeting of Justice Reinvestment Initiative Working Group

first_img Criminal Justice Reform,  Government That Works,  Statement Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf released the following statement on the first meeting of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative (JRI) Working Group:“Today’s first Working Group meeting illustrates the depth and breadth of the problems facing our criminal justice system and the incredible opportunity we have to save money, improve public safety and promote fairness with this phase of the Justice Reinvestment Initiative in Pennsylvania. The working group is made up of a diverse and robust representation of the stakeholders in our criminal justice system from arrest, trial, sentencing, incarceration, and post-release.“The front-end focus of this phase of JRI will require significant work to find common ground but today’s meeting proves that we are all committed to finding ways to reform our criminal justice system based on research and focused on outcomes that improve public safety. I look forward to the work that will be done with our partners at the Council of State Governments over the next year and working in a bi-partisan, data-driven way to make real criminal justice reform a reality.”In February, Governor Tom Wolf, leaders of the General Assembly and criminal justice stakeholders announced the formation of the JRI Working Group. Today’s meeting was led by Chair of the JRI Working Group and Chairman of the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency Josh Shapiro and Vice Chair and Secretary of Corrections John Wetzel, along with representatives from the Council of State Government. JRI work is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts and the United States Department of Justice.You can find a copy of the presentation of data compiled by the Council of State Governments here.Like Governor Tom Wolf on Facebook: Facebook.com/GovernorWolf SHARE Email Facebook Twitter March 09, 2016center_img Governor Wolf Statement on First Meeting of Justice Reinvestment Initiative Working Grouplast_img read more