Monday, July 02, 2007

Con Law: Mohawk Thanksgiving Address

Back when the Jamestown Lawyer was also the Jamestown Community College Instructor teaching a constitutional law class, I brought a newly filed case to my students' attention. Salmon River Central School, on the US/Canada border in Franklin County, is roughly 2/3 Mohawk. The issue came up of whether the traditional Mohawk Thanksgiving Address, sometimes identified as a "blessing," could properly be allowed during school hours. The school district pulled the PA system version, allowing students to gather in the auditorium if they should desire. A number of Mohawk residents sued, alleging a cultural and not a religious basis.

Few topics are as divisive as religion. Few areas are as prone to division as the North Country, when the issue is whites/Natives and the perception that one group or the other is getting special treatment.

Some of those attitudes can be seen in the recent Albany Times Union article discussing the dismissal of the suit in favor of the school district. As this was District Court, the potential for appeal will likely be the subject of a later article.


Anonymous Dee said...

Prayer or blessing, religious or not, people need to learn to keep things like this out of schools. Personal beliefs, family beliefs, cultural beliefs need to be kept in those groups.

the main problem with trying to foist thing out on others is that you then open the door for those groups to share their views.

For example, many people say that prayers belong in schools. However, they are always thinking of their own personal beliefs, and thinking of those prayers as following their beliefs instead of someone else's.

I do very much like the idea of the school district allowing the students to use the aud as a place to have this blessing. Seems like a sensitive and sensible way to handle this.

11:25 AM  

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