Mary Eastin, English teacher at Cibola High School in Albuquerque, made a return from paid leave today. In what the...

Posted by The Red Nation on Wednesday, November 7, 2018
A sign is seen outside of Cibola High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, following an incident involving Native students at a non-Native teacher in October 2018. Photo: The Red Nation

'Bloody Indian': School district sued over teacher's racial comment

A young citizen of the Navajo Nation is suing a public school district and a teacher who allegedly called her a "bloody Indian" in an incident that drew widespread attention to the mistreatment of Native students.

McKenzie Johnson was a junior at Cibola High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico, when she was called a "bloody Indian" in front of her entire class on October 31, 2018. She is accusing the public school district, as well as the teacher of the Advanced Placement course, of fostering a hostile learning environment.

“Students cannot possibly be expected to thrive if they have to fear being called racist and derogatory names by the very people who are entrusted with their learning and safety,” Preston Sanchez, the Indigenous Justice Attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said in a press release. “That’s why it’s imperative that we hold schools accountable when they fail to prevent or adequately address incidents of racism and harassment.”

The teacher, identified as Mary Jane Eastin in the lawsuit, also allegedly cut the hair of a second Native student on the same day in question. She was placed on leave following the incident and was eventually allowed to retire, according to the ACLU.

The ACLU is suing on Johnson's behalf. The complaint was filed in New Mexico state court on January 8.

“We’re fighting to establish a clear precedent that our state antidiscrimination protections extend to students in public schools,” said Sanchez of the ACLU. “Not only must we ensure Native American students feel safe behind school walls, but we must also do everything in our power to ensure that they are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve.”

Read More on the Story
Teacher called Native American student ‘bloody Indian’: suit (The New York Post January 9, 2020)
ACLU of New Mexico suing APS, teacher (The Albuquerque Journal January 8, 2020)
Teen sues Albuquerque Public Schools over teacher’s offensive comment (KRQE January 8, 2020)
ACLU sues school district over ‘bloody Indian’ comment (The Associated Press January 8, 2020)

Join the Conversation

Related Stories
Teacher accused of 'cultural assault' against Native students won't return to school (December 4, 2018)
Leader of Navajo Nation demands action for 'cultural assault' at high school (November 27, 2018)