Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s shocking recommendations

Ezra Levant of looks at the final report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission into residential schools.

He points out that the very existence of the Indian Act gives the lie to the report’s central premise: That the Canadian government intentionally set out to eliminate First Nations cultures and ignore treaties.

Liberal Party responsible for residential schools, Indian Act

Brian Lilley of reminds you that the Liberal Party has, historically, been the party behind the residential schools and other First Nations grievances.

He also explains that the Truth and Reconciliation reports’ 94 recommendations can’t all be carried out by the federal government alone. Many of them are absurd, divisive and contradictory.

Rich white liberal outsiders trying to keep BC First Nations bands poor

Ezra Levant of reports that 28 different BC Indian bands have signed on to a new liquified natural gas project. This should bring them the kind of prosperity that Alberta First Nations bands have enjoyed thanks to the oil sands.

But rich foreign groups like the Rockefeller Brothers Fund are trying to prevent that from happening, by hiring First Nations activists to act as spokespeople.

First Nations leader: Idle No More in the minority

Ernie Crey of the North West Indigenous Council talks to Ezra Levant of about the need for First Nations people to participate in all aspects of Canadian life.

Crey says that militant aboriginal groups like Idle No More represent “a fraction of one percent” of Canada’s almost one million First Nations people. Most, he says, want a share in “the good life.”

upcoming hollywood racism: White woman to portray native American Tiger Lily

If this new Tiger Lily is not a person of color, why is her dad so dark?

A poster and movie trailer for Pan, the Peter Pan prequel planned for a summer 2015 release, is giving the public a first glimpse of actress Rooney Mara in the role of Tiger Lily, a Native American character in J.M. Barrie’s 1904 play. The visuals have reignited the controversy that broke out in March over the casting of Mara, a non-Native actress, in the role. Reporting on the choice touted the film’s “multi-racial” world and “a very different [Tigerlily] than was originally imagined.”

But there was concern and even outrage over Mara’s casting. An online petition was started to urge Warner Brothers to “Stop casting white actors to play people of color!” On Twitter and other social media, many people voiced disappointment in Mara for accepting the role.



Aboriginal men murdered at higher rate than aboriginal women

Three years ago, her father was beaten to death and discovered on Halloween, 2011. Eugene Fontaine was 41. Two men would later plead guilty to manslaughter in the case.

The Fontaines were aboriginal. Together, they tell the story of a homicide epidemic that has been ravaging indigenous communities for decades.

Between 1980 and 2012, 14 per cent of female murder victims with a known ethnicity were aboriginal, far exceeding their 4 per cent share of the female population, according to Statistics Canada.

But 17 per cent of male murder victims were also aboriginal during that time. In total, nearly 2,500 aboriginal people were murdered in the past three decades: 1,750 male, 745 female and one person of unknown gender.

StatsCan’s figures differ from those compiled by the RCMP, which released a report in May saying 1,017 aboriginal women had been murdered since 1980. It also noted that the “solve rates” for murders involving aboriginal and non-aboriginal women were virtually the same: 88 and 89 per cent respectively. The report did not address male murder victims.

Tina Fontaine’s death has inspired renewed calls for a public inquiry into the problem of missing and murdered aboriginal women, the ubiquitous five-word phrase that has catalyzed much of the public outrage around the condition of Canada’s aboriginal population.

The RCMP found that 105 aboriginal women were missing for at least 30 days as of last November in cases where the reason for their disappearance was deemed “unknown” or “foul play suspected.” StatsCan does not keep track of missing persons, and the RCMP declined to compile statistics on missing aboriginal men.

But statistics show that aboriginal men are murdered in greater numbers, and at a higher rates relative to the general population, than even aboriginal women. That has prompted some to wonder if the singular focus on one gender is misplaced.

Michele Audette, president of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, is among them. Asked why activists haven’t broadened their focus to include violence against aboriginal people in general, she said: “It’s a good question, to be frank with you. For me, if you’re a woman or a man, you don’t deserve to be murdered.”

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rejected calls for a public inquiry. At a press conference Thursday, he said, “We should not view this as sociological phenomenon. We should view it as crime. It is crime against innocent people, and it needs to be addressed as such.”

Though violence is pervasive in aboriginal communities, cutting across demographic lines, aboriginal women are more likely to be victims of violent crime, including spousal abuse, than either aboriginal men or other women.

Twelve out of the 33 missing women whose DNA was found on serial killer Robert Pickton’s farm outside Vancouver were aboriginal. The Pickton case helped focus attention on the plight of missing and murdered indigenous women.

But when it comes to aboriginal homicide rates, the gender split tracks closely with the Canadian average. In Manitoba, where the Fontaine family lived, more aboriginal people have been murdered in the past three decades than non-aboriginal, though the province is just about one-sixth native. Seventy-one per cent of those nearly 500 aboriginal homicide victims were men.

Despite this, many national organizations stand by the focus on murdered and missing aboriginal women.

“The RCMP does not have plans to broaden the National Operational Overview on missing and murdered aboriginal women to include all Aboriginal Peoples,” said RCMP spokesperson Greg Cox in a statement.

David Gollob, spokesperson for the Canadian Human Rights Commission, said his organization would also stand by its call for a public inquiry that focuses on women. “It is conceivable that a public inquiry into murdered and missing aboriginal women and girls could touch on broader issues of violence and victimization of aboriginal people,” he wrote in an email.

“However nothing refutes the fact that the nature and obvious severity of the rate of victimization of aboriginal females is an ongoing national tragedy.”

Hollywood whitewashing: Rooney Mara cast as Tiger Lily in Joe Wright’s Pan



Joe Wright’s Peter Pan origin story starring Hugh Jackman as Blackbeard andGarret Hedlund as Hook has potentially found its Tiger Lilly. If negotiations work out, the iconic role of the young Native American princess will be played by none other than Irish-Italian actress Rooney Mara. The film is being billed as a “new take on the classic story,” and in this case, that “new take” extends the old tale of Hollywood whitewashing characters of color. (Recently, Johnny Depp tried to skirt controversy by being “formally adopted” by the Comanche Indians before playing Tonto in the Lone Ranger film.)



and once again the fans of  red head Anne of Green Gables that are outrage over the use of  a blonde woman to portray Anne is silent on his issue.

Veteran’s Pride in Native Flags Leads to Faceoff and Arrest in Toronto

For indigenous former soldier Davyn Calfchild, the two minutes of silence  that were supposed to honor veterans on November 11 were anything but.

Instead of being permitted to enter the ceremony at Toronto’s Old City Hall  carrying flags representing the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Mohawk  Warriors, Calfchild was stopped by police. They not only confiscated the flags  but also held him and two others until the ceremony was over.

Calfchild arrived with two friends, holding the flags, having served for five  years in the Former Yugoslavia, from 1992–1997. What ensued set social media on  fire, as a YouTube video now posted of the arrest shows Calfchild surrounded by  police officers. The video, recorded by one of the friends who accompanied  Calfchild, appeared online by the end of the day and was soon being shared  widely on Twitter and Facebook. Many branded the incident an outrage.

The video shows Calfchild explaining to the officer why he came to the  ceremony. After Calfchild was apparently warned not to make a scene, an  altercation arose between him and the officer. Within minutes, according to the  video, the officer arrested Calfchild.

“This guy says our flags are not welcomed on Iroquoian land,” Calfchild told  the crowd. As onlookers snapped photos, Calfchild was escorted away from the  ceremony by two officers. Both flags dropped to the ground as Calfchild and his  friends were handcuffed. During the arrest, Calfchild’s friend repeatedly asked  why they were being arrested. But shortly after that the video recording went  black.

Like Calfchild, thousands of indigenous men and women served in Canada’s  armed forces. More than 7,000 indigenous veterans served in WWI and WWII, as  well as the Korean War. It is unknown how many fought in the Yugoslav wars. Many  have been awarded medals for their skill and contribution to the military over  the decades. For instance, during WWI, 50 medals were awarded to indigenous  veterans.


Lawsuit Proceeds for Canada’s Lost Generation of Stolen Babies

A class-action lawsuit against the Canadian government on behalf of tens of thousands of indigenous children who were seized and moved to white families in an adoption wave known as the “Sixties Scoop” can now proceed after being approved by an Ontario judge.

The decision was handed down after several previous lawsuits in Canada failed, and as attention in the U.S. focused on the Baby Veronica custody case.

‘Not Even Human’ How Canadian Govt. Abused Aboriginal Children in TB Experiments


While aboriginal children died of tuberculosis in the 1930s and 1940s,  Canadian health officials tried out experimental vaccines on infants rather than  ameliorate the conditions of poverty that sparked that and a host of other  illnesses.

These revelations, while not new, have re-emerged in the wake of the  discovery that nutritional experiments were conducted on First Nations children  in the 1940s.

As with the nutritional experiments, the TB vaccine research capitalized on  the poverty of its subjects to conduct studies rather than address the  underlying factors leading to the high incidence of the lung infection, says a  report by the Aboriginal  Peoples Television Network (APTN).

“It is pretty depressing. It is just document after document. They treated  these people like they were not even human,” said Maureen Lux, a professor at  Brock University who is writing a book about the treatment of indigenous people  in TB sanitoriums, in an interview with the network. “It is definitely the  hardest thing I have ever done.”

In the interview posted by APTN on July 24, Lux discussed the findings she  had first published in a 1998 paper on the vaccine trials, which she is  expanding into the book due out next year.

“Historians have been reluctant to question medical care because we are  enthralled with the power of medicine,” she told APTN. “Once I started looking  at what was going and how they were operated and in whose interest, it becomes a  fairly dark story.”

In studying aboriginal people and the medical system, Lux examined reserve  conditions in southern Saskatchewan, in the Qu’Appelle region, during the early  20th century.

In expanding her paper on the treatment of indigenous people in sanatoriums,  she found that a federal program that ran from 1930 to 1932 had cut the  tuberculosis rate in half by improving housing conditions, drilling wells to  access better-quality water, and enhancing nutrition for children and pregnant  women. Lux’s paper, “Perfect Subjects: Race Tuberculosis and the Qu’Appelle BCG  Vaccine Trial,” detailed these findings, as well as the fact that the government  had chosen to ignore this solution and seek the cheaper method of simply  vaccinating babies against the disease, APTN reported.

“The general death rate and the infant mortality rate both also fell. Thus,  before the BCG vaccine trials were begun, the tuberculosis death rate had been  reduced by half by marginal improvements in living conditions, and especially by  segregating those with active tuberculosis,” wrote Lux, according to APTN.

Although the vaccine ultimately was proven to work—and is still in use  today—children died of gastroenteritis and pneumonia during the study period,  Lux wrote. Although some medical professionals expressed misgivings about the  ethics of such studies, they continued.

“Between October 1933 and 1945, a total of 609 infants were involved in the  tests—half given the vaccine, half not,” the Canadian  Press reported. “Results were clear: nearly five times as many cases of  TB among the non-vaccinated children. But the real lesson from the tests was the  connection between dire living conditions and overall health.”

The report went on to elaborate.

“Of the 609 children in the tests, 77 were dead before their first birthday,  only four of them from TB,” the Canadian Press wrote. “Both vaccinated and  unvaccinated groups had at least twice the non-tuberculosis death rate as the  general population.”

This would seem especially cruel in light of the TB scourge that persists  today, especially in Inuit communities.

But the experiments didn’t stop there, Lux told APTN. The TB antibiotic  streptomycin was administered to First Nations patients in other trials at  Charles Camsell hospital in Edmonton, which has since closed down. In addition,  Lux told APTN, doctors surgically removed TB from indigenous patients up until  the 1950s and 1960s, long after the practice had been discontinued in the  non-indigenous population.

“Do we interpret that surgeons and medical directors thought they were doing  right and never questioning the assumption that these people were going to  actually spread TB when they actually weren’t?” Lux told APTN. “They could do it  and they did it and that is as shocking as any kind of experiment.”


Canadian Govt. Watched Kids Starve Like Lab Rats for ‘Science’

Even as brave soldiers, some of them aboriginal, fought to defeat the Nazis  and their notion of a master race during WW2, Canadian health authorities back  on the home front were busy using aboriginal kids as nutritional guinea  pigs.

“It was experiments being conducted on malnourished aboriginal people,” food  historian Ian Mosby revealed in an interview with CBC’s As  It Happens radio show on Tuesday July 16. “It started with research trips  in northern Manitoba where they found, you know, widespread hunger, if not  starvation, among certain members of the community. And one of their immediate  responses was to design a controlled experiment on the effectiveness of vitamin  supplementation on this population.”

As the U.S. absorbs revelations of forced sterilization among female inmates  in California, the news from up north is resonating across Canada.

Mosby, who is earning his PhD in history at the University of Guelph, said  the research—which occurred without the subjects’ knowledge—was undertaken in  residential schools and remote aboriginal communities in Manitoba during and  just after World War II. He also uncovered plans for similar research in  residential schools in British Columbia, Ontario, Nova Scotia and Alberta. About  1,300 aboriginal children were used in the experiments, the Canadian  Press reported.

The experiments were conducted beginning in 1942, when authorities visiting  remote northern communities in Manitoba found widespread malnutrition. Rather  than assist them, the authorities decided to conduct vitamin research, Mosby  said.

Mosby told the Canadian Press that he was not looking for anything like this.  He was merely researching health policy. But something struck him as strange, he  said.

“I started to find vague references to studies conducted on ‘Indians’ that  piqued my interest and seemed potentially problematic, to say the least,” he  said to the Canadian Press. “I went on a search to find out what was going  on.”

What he found disturbed him greatly. “It’s an emotionally difficult topic to  study,” he said.

According to the Canadian Press account, 300 children in Norway House Cree  were the first subjects, with 125 receiving vitamin supplements and the rest  left to their bodies’ own devices. Even those receiving the supplements were not  getting all they needed, Mosby wrote, because people were not getting enough  food—they were living on fewer than 1,500 calories daily rather than the adult  need of 2,000.

“The research team was well aware that these vitamin supplements only  addressed a small part of the problem,” Mosby wrote, according to the Canadian  Press. “The experiment seems to have been driven, at least in part, by the  nutrition experts’ desire to test their theories on a ready-made ‘laboratory’  populated with already malnourished human experimental subjects.”

This did not stop the research from spreading, with plans developed in 1947  to conduct similar experiments on 1,000 children in six residential schools in  Port Alberni, British Columbia, Kenora, Ontario, Schubenacadie, Nova Scotia and  Lethbridge, Alberta, the Canadian Press reported.

The Canadian government seemed caught off-guard by the revelations.

“If this is story is true, this is abhorrent and completely unacceptable,”  said a spokesperson for Bernard Valcourt, the minister of Aboriginal Affairs and  Northern Development, via e-mail late Tuesday to the Canadian Press. “When Prime  Minister [Stephen] Harper made a historic apology to former students of Indian  Residential Schools in 2008 on behalf of all Canadians, he recognized that this  period had caused great harm and had no place in Canada. Our Government remains  committed to a fair and lasting resolution to the legacy of the Indian  Residential Schools.”

This year marks the fifth anniversary of the June 8, 2008 official apology  delivered to residential school survivors by Harper on behalf of the Canadian  government. During the 150-year-long residential schools era, 150,000 aboriginal  students were ripped from their families, virtually interred in mostly  church-run boarding schools far from home, and forbidden to use their language  and culture.

First Nations advocates are already calling for government action. Wab Kinew,  who is the director of indigenous inclusion at the University of Winnipeg, said  the federal government should turn all that research over to the Truth and  Reconciliation Commission, which is compiling a history of the residential  school era, which ended in the 1990s.

“This is a reminder of a disgusting period in both Canadian and scientific  history when indigenous people and other non-whites were regarded as inferior,”  he told the Winnipeg  Free Press. “The end goal of course is to make sure things like this  never happen again.”


A Tribe Called Red Want White Fans To ‘Please Stop’ Wearing Redface ‘Indian’ Costumes To Shows

Most of the professional difficulties that Ian Campeau (AKA Deejay NDN) of first nations DJ crew A Tribe Called Red faces aren’t that of the usual show-booking or money-making variety. The act is insanely popular, selling out gigs all over the world, getting support from EDM impressario Diplo, and indexed on the Polaris Prize long list for the second straight year.

No, what has been the group’s tallest mountain to scale has been the reconciliation of attitudes towards a group of young, aboriginal men bluntly incorporating both sound and imagery of their race into their music and performances. Lately, it’s escalated, with the band pleading online with their non-aboriginal fans to discontinue wearing headdresses to the shows; taking on the city of Nepean, Ontario’s football team’s racist name; and facing the intense backlash that has hit them square in the face.

Disney Exploiting Confusion About Whether Depp Has Indian Blood

As The Lone Ranger heads for the big screen this summer, many Native Americans are questioning Disney’s campaign to court their approval. They believe that the studio’s public relations gestures mask the real issues of the marketing and identity of indigenous people.

The movie, which stars Johnny Depp as Tonto and Armie Hammer as the Lone Ranger, will hit theaters July 3. Depp has enjoyed a long relationship with the film’s director Gore Verbinski and its producer Jerry Bruckheimer through Disney’s record-breaking Pirates of the Caribbean series. The megastar is also one of The Lone Ranger’s executive producers, and his production company Infinitum Nihil (Latin for “Infinite Nothing”) was involved with the picture.

But Depp’s claims of Cherokee heritage (put forth in 2002 on Inside the Actors’ Studio, although in 2011 speaking to Entertainment Weekly he added “or maybe Creek”) along with his streaked black-and-white painted face and a stuffed crow perched atop his head have caused many to cry foul. Still, others say that Disney—which has a long history of working with Native Americans—is not adequately addressing their issues.

For his part, Depp told that the film is “an opportunity for me to salute Native Americans.” The actor has said he hopes to fix years of Indian misrepresentations in Hollywood and has repeatedly stated that his great grandmother had mostly Cherokee blood.

But Native American leaders and educators are not buying it. They question Depp’s claims of Cherokee heritage, particularly the studio’s attempt to keep it ambiguous.

“Disney relies upon the ignorance of the public to allow that ambiguity to exist,” says Hanay Geiogamah, Professor of Theater at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television. Geiogamah (Kiowa/Delaware) was a consultant for Disney’s Pocahontas and served as producer and co-producer for TBS’ The Native Americans: Behind the Legends, Beyond the Myths aired in the 1990s.

“If Depp had any legitimate blood of any tribe, Disney would definitely have all the substantial proof of that already. It’s not that hard to establish tribal connections,” Geiogamah says.

Richard Allen, Policy Analyst for the Cherokee Nation in Tahlequah, Oklahoma, agrees. He says that many celebrities have claimed Cherokee heritage—often based upon family stories they’ve heard—but like Depp they never try to verify it. “They all tell me they have high cheekbones,” Allen says.

Geiogomah believes that because so few roles in Hollywood go to Native American actors, Disney’s big-budget movie is a “missed opportunity.” Depp could have played the Lone Ranger and instead promoted a younger Indian actor to play Tonto, he points out. After all, Canadian Mohawk actor Jay Silverheels portrayed the character in the 1950s TV series.

“Now they re-introduce Tonto with a non-Indian. So can you call that progress?” Geiogamah asks.

Instead, he worries that Disney’s Tonto feeds into non-Native expectations of Indians frozen in a historic time frame. “That costume ends up making us look like a bunch of oddballs with dead birds on our heads,” Geiogamah says.

Poarch Creek Student Not Required to Pay Fine, Receives Diploma

After nearly a month of not knowing her fate, Chelsey Ramer, of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians, and her family have been informed by Escambia Academy officials that she would not have to pay a copy,000 fine for wearing an eagle feather on her cap during her graduation ceremony in May. (Related story: “Poarch Creek Student Fined for Wearing Eagle Feather at Graduation”)

Escambia interim headmaster David Walker was not able to comment with any specific details about the matter, but he did confirm that Ramer would receive her diploma and would not pay the copy,000 fine.

“The young lady has her diploma; she received it yesterday. She did not have to pay a fine,” said Walker. “The decision was made before graduation. Chelsey has done everything she needed to do to fulfill her graduation requirement.”

Even if Ramer had been made to pay the fine, enough money was raised by an online campaign to cover the cost, so the family wouldn’t have to pay it. The “Chelsey Ramer can’t graduate because she is proud to be Native American” campaign was started by Dan Morrison, communications director at First Peoples Worldwide, and has raised copy,127 that will now go to Chelsey’s education. (Related story: “Poarch Creek Student’s Fine Raised By Online Donations”)

Walker said the Escambia Academy board would be releasing a statement this week to the local news.

The Ramer family says they are pleased with the decision and do not wish to release a formal statement until the school releases their comments.


Half of First Nations children living in poverty should ‘shock’ Canadians: report


APTN National News
Half of First Nations children in Canada are living below the poverty line a new study indicates.

The number jumps to nearly two thirds in Manitoba and Saskatchewan according to a study released Wednesday by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives and Save the Children Canada.

“The report’s findings that half of status First Nation children live in poverty should shock all Canadians,” said Patricia Erb, President and CEO of Save the Children, in a statement. “Looking beyond the numbers to the impact of poverty on the lives of Indigenous children explains why Save the Children is currently growing our programming in Canada.”

The number drops when looking at Metis, Inuit, and non-status Indian children to 27 per cent and brings the total to nearly 40 per cent for all Indigenous children living in poverty compared to 15 per cent of non-Indigenous children.

Some of the differences in child poverty appear to be where they are from. Federally funded on-reserve children faced the most hardships compared to those who lived off reserve.

The federal government funds on-reserve social services, health care, education and income supports.

According to the study transfer payments for these social services on-reserve have increased two per cent a year since 1996 and isn’t adjusted for population growth or need.

“The removal of this cap on funding growth and an adjustment of transfers for need could reduce the alarming rate of status First Nations households living in poverty. It is a matter of choice,” said a portion of the study’s executive summary. “The failure of ongoing policies is clear. The link between the denial of basic human rights for Indigenous children and their poverty is equally clear.”

The study examined child poverty statistics from the 2006 census, the most recent data available according to the authors.

According to the statistics Indigenous children fall behind on family income, ability to receive an education, crowding and homelessness, poor water quality, infant mortality, health and suicide.

“The Indigenous population is the fastest growing in Canada. With adequate and sustained support these people will become an integral part of society and the workforce–particularly as baby boomers retire,” said Daniel Wilson, Indigenous rights advocate and co-author of the study. “But if we refuse to address the crushing poverty facing Indigenous children, we will ensure the crisis of socioeconomic marginalization and wasted potential will continue.”

Nearly $7.5 billion would be need to bring all children up to the poverty line suggested the study.

Self-Proclaimed ‘Prophet’ Cindy Jacobs Warns Native Americans to Repent

religion and racism


Cindy Jacobs describes herself as “a respected prophet who travels the world ministering not only to crowds of people, but to heads of nations.” She appears regularly on Christian TV, including on the Trinity Broadcasting Network and the 700 Club. But it’s one of her recent 10 Minute Prayer School segments during her “unique prophetic” God Knows God TV show that’s shocking Indian country. She also turns the screw on Mexicans while she’s at it.

Last week, Jacobs warned people of Indigenous heritage that they should “repent for their ancestors’ animism” because they are particularly vulnerable to evil spirits.

After invoking Job 41, Abrams began her lecture to Natives. “If you have in your bloodline any animus [sic], any Native American blood, for instance — not all Native Americans worshipped the serpent or crocodile, many did — but you might want to renounce that and repent for the generational iniquity,” she explained. “If you are — perhaps you’re Mexican and you might have indigenous blood in you or Mayan blood, those who have Aztec blood in any way, you need to repent for the sin of animism before you begin to deal with this spirit.”

It’s worth noting, as does, that “prophet” Abrams earlier this year averred that durable, long-lasting shoes are proof of “supernatural” miracles from God.



Hollywood Redface: Johnny Depp on not wanting Tonto to be a sidekick

a bullshit excuse for using redface in the remake of Tonto. The original had a native American portraying the native American character

“Since cinema has been around, Native Americans have been treated very poorly by Hollywood. What I wanted to do was play Tonto not as a sidekick – like ‘go fetch a soda for me, boy!’ – but as a warrior with integrity and dignity. It’s my small sliver of a contribution to try to right the wrongs of the past.

“I’m probably one sixteenth Native American, but of course that’s hard to trace. Basically that means it’s likely that, somewhere along the line, you were a product of rape.”

Depp you are not Native American


stuff white people do claim to native American heritage




Christian Student Cheered for Prayer, Native Student Snubbed for Feather




While a Native American student from Alabama could still face a copy,000 fine and has yet to receive her diploma for wearing a single eagle feather on her graduation cap May 23, the Christian Valedictorian of a South Carolina school was cheered for reciting the Lord’s Prayer during his graduation speech.

When Roy Costner IV took the stage June 1 to recite his speech to the graduating class of Liberty High School in Liberty, South Carolina, he ripped up his speech and instead recited the Lord’s Prayer.

As soon as he begins, the crowd erupts in cheers because the Pickens County School District had recently decided to no longer include prayer in graduation ceremonies. In the video you can see no visible reaction from the teachers seated behind him. According to reports on MSN and Yahoo News he was not disciplined for breaking the new rules.

“The bottom line is: We’re not going to punish students for expressing their religious faiths,” John Eby, a spokesperson for the Pickens County School District, told Yahoo News.

Chelsey Ramer, a member of the Poarch Creek Band of Indians, wore an eagle feather in her cap at her May 23 graduation from Escambia Academy in Atmore, Alabama. Before the ceremony the school board wanted all the students to sign a contract forbidding any “extraneous items during graduation exercises.”

Ramer never signed the contract but still faces disciplinary action for expressing her Native heritage during the ceremony. (Related story: “Poarch Creek Student Fined for Wearing Eagle Feather at Graduation)

So a white student decides to stand up and demonstrate his religious beliefs and gets cheered. A Native student does the same and can’t get her diploma and gets fined? A juxtaposition that hasn’t gone unnoticed by the online community.

A user-generated post titled “So a Native American girl gets no diploma and a copy000 fine for putting a feather in her cap, while a Christian valedictorian disobeys rules by reciting prayer and gets standing ovation” on Reddit has been pushed to the front page of the site by other users with more than 15,000 upvotes and 1,630 comments. And those numbers are steadily increasing.

The original poster on Reddit says, “It’s just frustrating to me that when reading these two stories side by side, it comes across as ‘Hey you Indian, stop expressing your culture! This is no place for your savagery. No diploma for you, and now you owe me money for some reason! Oh, hey Christian kid, you weren’t supposed to be inciting prayer at this event. Ahh well, whattya gonna do? You little skamp, hehehe.’”

User Azbug on Reddit says, “What kills me is she worked for four years to get those grades and walk with her class. Somehow, showing one small bit of honor and pride in her ancestry automatically erases her four years of achievement… The other sad commentary is that young man had the opportunity to speak directly to his class, faculty, and the families of the graduates. Instead of saying something interesting or profound, he chose to cough up something that shows no introspection on growing up… On the other hand, the native girl merely whispers deep personal convictions, and is mercilessly stepped on.”

Ramer’s family is currently not commenting on the events and Escambia Academy is closed until Monday. Maybe next week we will find out if and when Ramer will get her diploma and if the school board will in fact make her family pay the fine. At least she won’t have to pay the fine out of her college fund.

An indiegogo fund started by Dan Morrison, communications director at First Peoples Worldwide, raised the full amount to pay the fine in just five days. As of today, the fund has copy,070 in it. If the family does not have to pay the fine, the money will go toward her education. (Related story: “Poarch Creek Student’s Fine Raised by Online Donations)