By Blaine Stevens
At an event about the impact of white feminism on coastal shore erosion in underserved Maine communities hosted in Kresge last week, Jennifer Beatty, an administrator at the College, acknowledged the privilege of living on the native land of the Penobscot with a land acknowledgment that was literally just lyrics from the 1995 Disney film Pocahontas.
Students were less than thrilled about Beatty’s decision to really lean into the shtick that Indigenous people still talk like they are caricatures from the deeply problematic films of the 20th century that portray them as speaking only in riddles relating to the natural world around them.
“I mean, she opened up the event by saying ‘You think I’m an ignorant *slur against Natives* and you’ve been so many places, I guess it must be so,” and I was kinda thinking, like, ‘Wow, she’s coming right out of the gate with it’ and also ‘Huh, I didn’t know that she’s Native,’” said one student who attended the event, “But I’m literally the whitest person I know so hey, not my place. I assumed she was just white passing. Again, not my place.”
Students were concerned for the length of Beatty’s speech which went on for about twenty full minutes.
“She was really taking her sweet time with it, that’s for sure. I wasn’t positive if I was misremembering the lyrics at first but then she got to the ‘Have you ever heard the wolf cry to the blue corn moon?’ bit and I was like ‘Okay, yeah, I definitely sang this in third grade choir.’
“I mean, whenever my fellow whites do one of these things, I’m expecting it to be at least marginally cringe. Having a millennial white woman named Jennifer get up on stage to say that she is grateful for the wind and the sky and the air of the Wabanaki peoples? Be fucking for real.”