Catholic Diocese apologizes for Wisconsin student punished over speaking in family's Native American language at school

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While the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has apologized to the Menominee Tribe and the family of a seventh-grader who was punished for using her native language at school, the girl's mother said Tuesday that she still wants her daughter's teacher fired.

Tanaes Washinawatok said Julie Gurta, who teaches at Sacred Heart Catholic School in Shawano, did not accept blame for her actions in a letter that was supposed to be an apology.

Washinawatok said her 12-year-old daughter, Miranda, interpreted the words "Hello" and "I love you" and then added how to say "thank you" when talking to two girls in class Jan. 19. 

She said Gurta overheard and "slammed her hands down on the desk and stated, 'You are not to speak like that. How do I know you're not saying something bad? How would you like if I spoke in Polish and you didn't understand?'"...

In the mid-1880s, the federal government established boarding schools that prohibited Native American students from acknowledging their culture, including language. Students were punished for using their native languages until the 1960s, and many elders still alive are afraid to teach the languages to children....

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