Claremont parents clash over kindergarten Thanksgiving costumes

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Some say having students dress up as pilgrims and Native Americans is 'demeaning.' Their opponents say they are elitists injecting politics into a simple children's celebration.

For decades, Claremont kindergartners have celebrated Thanksgiving by dressing up as pilgrims and Native Americans and sharing a feast. But on Tuesday, when the youngsters meet for their turkey and songs, they won't be wearing their hand-made bonnets, headdresses and fringed vests.

Parents in this quiet university town are sharply divided over what these construction-paper symbols represent: A simple child's depiction of the traditional (if not wholly accurate) tale of two factions setting aside their differences to give thanks over a shared meal? Or a cartoonish stereotype that would never be allowed of other racial, ethnic or religious groups?

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Vernon Clayson - 11/28/2008

Good thinking, Mr.Gesheckter, perhaps this "Seneca" maiden's dance should be like Jackie Gleason's old 'exit stage left' as he closed his program. But my guess is that this issue will fade with no comment from UC Riverside or words of wisdom passed down from the ancients, words the professor learned from her elders. As if! The university will allow the sham to continue before admitting they were taken in and the professor likely will continue her weird battle against children pretending to be Indians - probably because the pretense is so much like her own.

Charles Lee Geshekter - 11/27/2008

No wonder the general public grows more disenchanted and hostile towards the cloistered, arrogant, yet thin-skinned academic nannies like this phoney-baloney "Seneca" professor.

Let her perform whatever ceremony or private weeping ritual she wants in her own home, but kudos to the teachers and parents for standing up and rebuking her emotional blackmail.

Vernon Clayson - 11/26/2008

One of the people complaining about this innocent children's portrayal, Michelle Raheja, is a professor at UC Riverside, who claims to be a Seneca. Strange indeed, that she has waited so long to be offended by something so trivial and innocent. With all of the time spent on her education and teaching she probably didn't notice that children have been play acting pilgrims and Indians for several hundred years, thank heaven they didn't break into a backyard game of cowboys and Indians, she would have been appalled. The silliness aside, is she a Seneca of record, i.e.,is she an enrolled member, or is she another university faux Indian like Ward Churchill, all long hair, beads and buckskin, but with an Anglo's forked tongue.

Larry Castelli - 11/26/2008

This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard. Do we not have a culture to embrace?