University of Wisconsin bans innocuous paintings of Native Americans

The University of Wisconsin is into big-time censorship these days, and its latest Pecksniffian episode is particularly ludicrous. As reported by the National Coalition Against Censorship (NCAC), a branch of the University at Stoutt (UWS) has ordered two paintings removed from public view because they depict “interactions between white traders and First Nations people” and could have a “potentially ‘harmful effect’ on students and other viewers.”

While in principle paintings could be inappropriate in that way, but when you see the two at issue below you’ll realize this episode of fear is completely manufactured. And again it was manufactured by one of those “diversity teams” or “bias report teams” whose brief is to sniff out and then snuff out anything that could possibly offend anyone. As the NCAC reports:

The paintings, which were commissioned under the Works Progress Administration and painted by artist Cal Peters in 1935, can be found in the University’s Harvey Hall, a building currently undergoing major  renovations. In preparation for the Hall’s grand re-opening this fall, the paintings were to be restored by university art students under the direction of their professors. The restoration work, funded by the Wisconsin Historical Society, began back in 2013.

This summer, however, the paintings caught the eye of the University’s Diversity Leadership Team (DLT) who expressed concern that the depiction of First Nations people would reinforce racial stereotypes. The issue was brought to the attention of University Chancellor Bob Meyer who, after a series of discussions with the DLT, ruled in their favor. Because of the risk of “having a harmful effect on our students and other viewers,” the paintings will not appear in the new Harvey Hall and will be placed into storage, Chancellor Meyer announced. Given the sensitive subject matter of the paintings, he continued, if they are to be displayed, it must be in “a controlled gallery space” that provides “context” for a viewer.  And “a controlled gallery space” just does not exist at the University, so the paintings will most likely just remain out of view.

Okay, are you ready to see the offending artworks? Here they are. First, “Perrault’s trading fort”:


And the other offensive painting: “French trappers on the Red Cedar”:


What, exactly, is offensive here? Certainly the Native Americans aren’t depicted in a derogatory or offensive way; what we see are trappers and Native Americans either trading for furs or interacting (probably with the Native Americans as guides) on a trapping expedition.

What we see here is part of the North American fur trade, in which Native Americans would trade fur from animals they’d trapped with “settlers” for items like axes, blankets, pots, and beads. It was reciprocal trade, and in many cases helped defuse tensions between the native inhabitants and the whites. Remember that Steve Pinker, in Better Angels of Our Nature, gives commerce credit for producing the people-to-people interaction that helped efface xenophobia.

Moreover, the paintings are probably historically accurate. How, exactly, do they reinforce racial stereotypes of Native Americans? I’d say they depict acts of comity, not enmity.

The problem appears to be only that the artworks show interactions between white traders and Native American trappers. I guess that could lead some Pecksniffs to conjure up an image of the abysmal treatment of Native Americans by American settlers and the military, but that’s not what’s shown here. And if that’s the only connection between these paintings and “offense,” then I reject it completely.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), ever on the case, has written a letter to UWS Chancellor Bob Meyer that you can see here. FIRE, in fact, has bent over backwards to encourage the case of these paintings to be used as a “teaching moment”; here’s part of their letter:

Popular attitudes held by Americans in the 1930s differ from contemporary views—and, accordingly, are of historical significance. Conversations about history are not just conversations about what happened; they are also conversations about how we talk about what happened. Cal Peters’ work invites reflection on the politics of historical memory and presents a valuable educational opportunity. Substantive dialogue across the divides of racial misapprehension, anxiety, and pain will demand courage, imagination, dedication and perseverance. Putting Cal Peters’ 1930s paintings in a closet ends the conversation prematurely and to the detriment of current and future students and faculty.

. . .We strongly urge the University of Wisconsin-Stout—a public institution bound by the First Amendment—to keep the Cal Peters paintings on display as both historically important artifacts and teaching tools. To facilitate an open discussion about these works, we recommend that you provide an opportunity for observers to describe their reactions in writing—perhaps in a nearby notebook—and that you consider sponsoring workshops and the display of other work that provides different perspectives.

Removing representations of historically oppressed groups from view will not change the facts of history. Instead, more representations, more voices, and more conversations are needed. We ask that you trust your faculty and students to answer that challenge.

h/t: Greg Mayer


  1. Craw
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    What the Pecksniffs object to is precisely that it shows comity. If it showed a Simon Legree trapper whipping a Native it would pass muster.

    • Les Robertshaw
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:00 am | Permalink

      I don’t believe a picture of a trapper whipping a Native would be allowed to be displayed. Non natives do not want to know that history. Like Bill O’Reilly tries to mitigate slavery others would wipe the cruelty, violence and genocide practiced by early settlers from the historical record.

    • P. Puk
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:26 am | Permalink

      How about a painting of Custer having his ass handed to him at Little Bighorn? Would that enforce the racial stereotype of bloodthirsty savage?

      • dabertini
        Posted August 6, 2016 at 4:33 pm | Permalink


      • Posted August 7, 2016 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

        There are quite a few painted renditions of Custer’s defeat at the Little Big Horn, and they have traditionally been quite popular. Indeed, they were a standard part of saloon decoration for many years.

  2. Randall Schenck
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Soon they will change the name of the school to The University of Ignorance. You won’t know much of anything but you will feel safe.

  3. GBJames
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    Oh, FFS.


    • GBJames
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:49 am | Permalink

      (also embarrassed by typo)

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      +1. (Except I’m not a Wisconsinite.)

      I have no idea whether I’m correct in saying this, but I have the impression that a majority of USians have very little knowledge of their history when it comes to Native Americans. They know there was a lot of really bad stuff and that seems to make them think any reminder that there was also good stuff is white-washing history.

      All I can say is that paintings of a similar nature that depicted European-Maori interaction in NZ would not be reacted to this way.

      • Christopher
        Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:04 pm | Permalink

        I can’t say anything about people outside my state, but here we have a brief unit on Native American history and culture in 3rd grade, usually presented by the teacher who knows little to nothing about the cultures being shared, and usually involves lots of coloring-in, and an attempted shoe-box diorama where the student tries to make a model of a native dwelling such as a tipi or hogan or longhouse. It’s very shallow. Most don’t know what tribes lived where they live now, many have never knowingly seen or talked to a member of a federally recognized tribal member, unless you head out west and southwest where many tribes still have reservations. That’s where you still get a lot of open racism. In this case, proximity breeds contempt, at least when the locals are Fox News-watching types. What you might find elsewhere, especially in the midwest and south, is the “my great-great grandmother was a Cherokee princess” claim. Never mind that the Cherokee didn’t have royalty, it’s a way to claim a piece of history, ignoring the reality, but in many cases they may have a small genetic inheritance in the form of an ancestor somewhere in the family tree that was in fact native. At least that’s been my experience. Ignorance is common, stereotypes abound, and real racism still exists, especially around the rez.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

          Thanks. Interesting, and very, very different to NZ. Maori is an official language of NZ, and Maori culture is a central part of the curriculum every year. There are dozens of schools (K-13) that teach the full curriculum in Maori (Google Kura Kaupapa). The first verse of the national anthem is in Maori, though NZers over about 40 weren’t taught the Maori verse st school because it’s a recent addition.

          • infiniteimprobabilit
            Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:10 pm | Permalink

            Which is not to say it’s problem free. The Maori interest in their hereditary lands is recognised in planning laws – which is a good thing – but it just leads to another bureaucratic step (New Zealand loves bureaucracy) in getting anything approved and some Maori descendants take excessive advantage of it.

            Also, Maori are still over-represented in the prison population and on average (I have to emphasise that) have lower socio-economic status.

            So, far from perfect but, I think, way better than the situation in the US (so far as I can tell).


            • Heather Hastie
              Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

              Yes, we’re far from perfect. I think the difference is we acknowledge there’s a problem and there’s an effort to fix it with goodwill on both sides. In the US there’s often an attempt to deny there’s a problem by groups that have the ability to influence the discourse. There are GOP politicians, for example, that have to take certain stances they know are wrong just to maintain their seat because of those groups.

        • GBJames
          Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:01 pm | Permalink

          Ignorance of Native American history and culture is rampant in the US. It enables both bigoted high school mascots and simpleminded romantic fantasies about idilic life before the Europeans arrived.

          The “There’s an Indian in my ancestry” myth is quite common in family oral traditions. My father’s family was no exception. Genealogical research and DNA have shown it to be false.

          But then, ignorance about history in general is rampant in the US. Hell, ignorance about everything is rampant.


          • E.A. Blair
            Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

            My maternal grandmother’s line goes back to colonial days, and someone did a genealogy that found that there were, indeed, some Native American in the mix (although I don’t recall whether any of that DNA ended up with me. However, we did find connections to two presidents (Thomas Jefferson was my 9xgreat uncle) and A few other famous Americans. I even discovered that one of my coworkers was a distant cousin.

            I think that if you have the records, almost everyone whose family has been in the US for more than four generations or so has a connection to someone famous or notorious, and the further back you can go, the more likely it is. The same goes for having Native Americans in the mix.

            As for the paintings, what’s the problem? I don’t see any.

            • GBJames
              Posted August 6, 2016 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

              Yeah, you discover interesting connections. I found out, for example, that Joe Biden is my 6th cousin.

              • Ken Kukec
                Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:08 pm | Permalink

                Which makes you a sixth cousin once removed from Neil Kinnock, hmmm?

            • Christopher
              Posted August 6, 2016 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

              There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the paintings. I mean, the artist is no Karl Bodmer, but still there’s nothing offensive there.

              I haven’t done a DNA test yet, but I will. My grandpa, great aunt and great uncle, however, leave little doubt as to my own native ancestry, even though I took after the Irish/Scottish side instead, but I would love to know what percentage is actually traceable, even if I doubt I’ll ever know for sure which tribe we were from. Cherokee is the family story, but who knows, really. We’re not on the roles, could have been mixed anyway, since there was so much of it going on through raids and warfare even before the Europeans came, so genetically, yes, but culturally, not really; mostly mid-western/Ozark hillbillies.

              and let us not forget two other important sources for US education: Disney’s Davy Crockett and Kevin Costner’s Dances With Wolves.

              • Randall Schenck
                Posted August 6, 2016 at 5:16 pm | Permalink

                You can’t leave out John Wayne…

          • Robert Bray
            Posted August 7, 2016 at 8:42 am | Permalink

            Rampant Ignorance–a good way to put the matter, Mr. James. I can see it as the Trumpian coat-of-arms: a great red beast, rampant, spewing bile, astride the Book of Knowledge, its yellow forelock aflame in a hellish fiery wind.

            Here in Illinois, there have been no ‘Illini’ since 1830. They were forcibly removed, first to Kansas, then to ‘Indian Territory’ (Oklahoma). Yet when the University of Illinois stopped the ‘ceremonial’ dance of ‘Chief Illiniwek’ at athletic events some years ago, the white protests shrieked out across the Land of Lincoln. It was all phony political correctness. After all, the ‘dance’ was a dignified tribute to a great tradition. What’s that you say? Then why weren’t those noble savages and their chiefs good enough to stay here and live on in the place named after them? Well, you know how it is.

            Civilization, Ho!

            • E.A. Blair
              Posted August 7, 2016 at 9:10 am | Permalink

              Godfey Daniel pesky redskins! Which way’s Goshen? All out for Fort Stinkin’ Desert!

      • BobTerrace
        Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

        I have the impression that a majority of USians have very little knowledge of their history when it comes to Native Americans.

        The baby boomers learned a lot about Tonto, the sidekick of The Lone Ranger.
        hi ho silver

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

          I must admit that I loved The Lone Ranger (Kimusabi ?spelling) and Tonto as a kid.

          • E.A. Blair
            Posted August 6, 2016 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

            In Lone Ranger comic books, they spelled it “Kimosabe”.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted August 6, 2016 at 6:53 pm | Permalink


              • Dale Franzwa
                Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:52 pm | Permalink

                It’s also, Hi Yo Silver (not Hi Ho). But then, you’d have had to listen to The Lone Ranger on the radio or watched him on tv to know this.

              • Heather Hastie
                Posted August 7, 2016 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

                I watched him on TV and thought it was Hi Ho. I guess I just assumed and never listened properly.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

          The Lone Ranger and Tonto are surrounded by hostile Injuns.
          “Looks like we’re in trouble, Tonto”.
          “Who’s this ‘we’, paleface?”

          Sorry about that…


      • Posted August 7, 2016 at 12:23 am | Permalink

        The painting provoked me to do a little research on this locale. It turns out the Red Cedar river (Menominee) was the site of the infamous Road of War battles, in which many Ojibwe were slaughtered at Perrault’s trading fort. The killers were not the French traders, but a Santee Dakota raiding party. However, Perrault was said to exploit the Ojibwe-Dakota enmity for his own gain.

      • Posted August 7, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        My experience is not current, but as an elementary school student in New York, the history of the Indians of the state was a modestly substantial part of the year spent on state history. Colonial history in general, as taught to me, had a fair amount about interactions with Indians; western expansion history, however, did not. Thus I learned a lot about the Mohawks, the Huron, and the Iroquois Confederacy; not so much about the Sioux and Cheyenne. I went to a Catholic school, so there were added parts in my schooling about the French trappers and the Jesuits who followed them to convert the Indians, but most of it was standard NY state elementary curriculum.

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted August 7, 2016 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

          Cool. I guess it varies from state to state. I would expect some states see it as more important than others.

  4. Hempenstein
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:50 am | Permalink

    For shocking images hanging on a wall (vs. in books and such), the one I ran into at an estate sale yrs ago probably tops the list. A Sacred Heart of Jesus, similar to this one but even more graphic – anatomically correct with veins etc, and a dagger in it – comes to mind. It was framed and hanging over the old lady’s bed. Who in hell would want to sleep with something like that over their head?

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:05 am | Permalink

      Catholics do it all the time – they’re addicted to iconography.

    • ploubere
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:47 am | Permalink

      Yes, that’s a fairly common Catholic image, from whence comes the phrase bleeding heart. Not that that makes it sane.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

      Every good Catholic household has a picture of The Sacred Heart, and another of The Last Supper. The latter is the one that freaked me out. Why are they all sitting on the same side of the table? And did they insisted on separate checks?

  5. Les Robertshaw
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:54 am | Permalink

    I agree with both you and Fire. Not only is this action censorship but it is unnecessary and unhelpful . Why censor history? Therein lies the real harm. This is what totalitarian regimes do albeit in a much more severe manner.
    We (and students)need to learn the truth and the realities of history. We need to see the good and evil of history otherwise ignorance follows. It irks me that the ‘news’ from warring countries is ‘cleaned up’. Perhaps if reality was shown every night on our TV screens people might revolt and demand an end ro it. Remember Viet Nam? I have no morbid desire to see the victims of war and violence but perhaps we need to see it.

    • Simon
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Couldn’t agree more. Self-serving versions of history abound. Much of the history of slavery, for instance, has been excluded from the history books to turn it into a cudgel with which to beat whites. Truth is that the African slave trade existed long before and long after European involvement on the slave owning side of it and many millions were spared a life of servitude thanks to Britain’s vast expenditure and the efforts of nations like France in ending much of the International slave trade. A balanced perspective acknowledges both that and the brutality of the transatlantic slavers.

      We might all be better off if Islamic apologists were made aware of the true death toll of 1500 years of jihad and the decimation of countless African villages by Islamic slavers.

      There is nothing unique, other than scale, about the recent domination of Europe over African, Asian and American cultures. History is a never ending tale of conquest by superior technology and adoption of the technology by the conquered. There may be instances where local mitigation of historical disadvantage may be warranted, but this racial blame game has to stop.

      • Robert Bray
        Posted August 7, 2016 at 8:59 am | Permalink

        I’d need some facts and sources before swallowing whole assertions like yours, especially in the second half of the first paragraph. If you’re speaking strictly about chattel slavery, you’re mistaken about the trans-atlantic slave-trade’s have ended at the beginning of the 19th century. According to the Liverpool Museum’s online publication,

        ‘Despite the abolition of slave trading by Britain and other countries from 1807 onwards, illegal trading continued for a further 60 years. About a quarter of all Africans who were enslaved between 1500 and 1870 were transported across the Atlantic in the years after 1807. Much of this illegal trade was to the sugar plantations of Cuba and Brazil.’

        • Robert Bray
          Posted August 7, 2016 at 9:09 am | Permalink

          Need to add: an oft-cited estimate for the total number of Africans stolen into slavery and shipped to the New World is 12.5 million. So the Liverpool Museum’s 25% after 1807 would be about 3 million. A lot of human beings denied a free life (or any life at all, since estimates of mortality during the Middle Passage ranged from 12 to 16 %).

        • Posted August 7, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

          Simon’s summary of the history of the slave trade is at least mostly true. The trans-Atlantic African slave trade was of course created, and then ended, by Europeans, but the African slave trade long predates European involvement. The Royal Navy had a West Africa squadron that was active in suppressing the slave trade (one of their actions is featured at the end of the movie Amistad). I don’t know about the French; there was an American squadron as well, but they did much less than the British. There’s no reason to doubt the figures from the Liverpool Museum, but that so many slaves were taken from Africa in the 19th century makes it even more dreadful to contmeplate what would have happened if the Royal Navy had not been on patrol to stop the trade.

  6. Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:56 am | Permalink

    In one of the last conversations I had with my major prof in college I told her that I wanted to go to college to have time to answer all the questions I had. Now that I was leaving I was surprised to realize that I’ve come to question all the answers I thought I had and that I had twice as many questions as when I started. Without a second’s hesitation she grabbed my hand and shook it and said “Congratulations Mr. Mitton. We’ve educated you.”

    I’m convinced that this kind of education only comes from “potentially ‘harmful effects” of exposure to all ideas.

    • Les Robertshaw
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      I wholeheartedly agree with you. This is the very reason news and history are censored.

    • Posted August 8, 2016 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

      And one should feel, about some matters, the numbness of the Socratic elenchus. Socratic questioning (at both ends of the argument!) should be part of the educational experience too. And that can make you feel so uncomfortable you want to kill the guy who did it to you – or at least such was the story with Socrates.😉

  7. Christopher
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Were there even any students who are members of any federally recognized indigenous group present at the school who felt any offense what so ever? Or, was it some of the privileged anglo-uber-left in their usual holier than thou virtue signaling? It does kinda matter how the people being “protected” actually feel about the paintings, and it’s not always how a non-indigenous person might expect. There are, surprisingly, quite a few who proudly support certain college, NFL or MLB teams, in spite of their very disturbing (to my mind) mascots and team behaviors.

    FIRE is right, it is a teachable moment. It’s not as if every encounter between native groups and European groups were negative. Some native groups got on very well with the French, fewer with the English, fewer still with the Americans, and the Spanish, well, even they had their allies, at first, anyway. Context matters, details matter, intent matters. What a dismal waste of energy this all has become.

    • Posted August 8, 2016 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

      Some of my favourite first encounters stories were just *weird*, like when the Royal Navy first-contact encountered some Inuit. The Navy dress uniforms were so inappropriate for arctic weather that the report is that an Inuk woman took to testicle-fondling to check if they were human, or just human-look-alike.

      I guess this counts as non-negative, though the prudish Victorian-age Brits might not have thought so!

  8. BobTerrace
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:02 am | Permalink

    Oy Vey. Did they also ban Guernica? It could be offensive to someone, somewhere.

  9. ThyroidPlanet
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:12 am | Permalink


    Looked it up – I love this – how DO you do it, PCC(E)?

  10. mordacious1
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    If they really hate those paintings, I’d be willing to remove them from the university and they will never have to see them again. It’s the right thing to do. I would find a u$e for them.

  11. ploubere
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 11:51 am | Permalink

    If they want to cleanse the world of every painting and photo of native americans interacting with whites, they have set for themselves a monumental task.

  12. Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    I too am bewildered by this, and the only thing I can remotely come up with is if someone is being triggered by any perceived dominance/weaponry of the white folks in the scenes. Beats me … life on Bizzaro world again.

  13. Sastra
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Hey, the solution is easy. Just take some white paint and slab it over every Indian in the paintings. If anyone gets curious and asks about what’s underneath, the administration can glance nervously from side to side, lower its voice, and whisper “Those were Indians … but please, don’t mention it to anyone and forget that I told you.”

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

      Except “Indians” would not be the preferred nomenclature, as Meryl Streep’s character learned from the college professors in August: Osage County.

      • Sastra
        Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        No. They want to be called “American Indians” again, not “Native Americans.” So your correction is racist.

        • Christopher
          Posted August 6, 2016 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          OR First Nations, or specifically whatever tribal entity they belong… we could be offending everyone everywhere every time we speak! or, we could just do this:

          “hey, are you indian?” -“yes, but I prefer to be called ‘_fill in the blank_’. “oh, ok, cool”…

          you know, otherwise known as being polite. Something both the uber-PC and anti-PC have overlooked.

          and many do use ‘injun’, but jokingly, as in “this car is powered by injun-uity” bumper stickers on the back of old beat-up rez cars.

          • Posted August 8, 2016 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

            Depends *crucially* where, to whom, in what context, etc. A Native American (which is what he used most of the time) I knew online years ago used to sign off with “‘Vegetarian’? That’s an ancient Indian word for ‘I don’t hunt so good.'”. In his view, for example, self-deprecating humour is not allowed.

            Similarly, in the Canadian Arctic “Eskimo” is regarded as insensitive-to-racist, but not because it means “raw meat eater” (which it may not, but it would be true in any case), but because it isn’t a self-name. (Alaskan Inuit seem to still use “Eskimo”, for some reason.)

            • Posted August 8, 2016 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

              Er should be *allowed*, not *not*. Could *I* make that joke? Not without the frame, at least in some circles.

        • E.A. Blair
          Posted August 6, 2016 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          It’s hard to keep up with what the proper nomenclature is for minorities these days. It seems like every week another letter gets added to “LGBTQWhatever”. I was somewhat startled when I was looking through a newspaper from 22 November 1963 (with the main headline “Kennedy Is Slain”) to see a story captioned “191 Negroes on State Payroll”. For a while after “Negro” went out of the vocabulary, it was impossible to keep up with the changing terminology. Sometimes I’m still not sure.

          • Posted August 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

            I think that one should be somewhat aware of what is going on, and to be *open to correction*. (Notice the two-sided nature of this proposal.)

  14. Ken Kukec
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    It reeks of bitter irony for soi-disant leftists, claiming to act in the name of diversity on behalf of a historically oppressed group, to pull down inoffensive paintings produced under the auspices of the WPA’s Federal Project Number One — the New Deal program that took art out of the cloistered world of galleries and museums and brought it to the people.

  15. Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Apparently the pecksniffs are of the view that the paintings “stereotype” the native americans as portrayed. I am not sure how else they could be portrayed.

    • Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:25 pm | Permalink

      Sorry, I did not read carefully enough. That has already been said. I guess I just couldn’t believe it.

    • GBJames
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      Perhaps if they just looked like Vikings it would be OK.

  16. Lurker111
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

    The only stupid stereotype in the river party is the idiot standing up in the canoe.

    BTW, I would not have been able to write FIRE’s letter. I would have begun it, “Did you double your stupid pills lately?” And gone on from there.

    • Kiwi Dave
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Quite so. Or perhaps someone thought it was a health and safety issue needing a warning label or a circle with a diagonal line over the standing figure.

  17. Rob
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 2:20 pm | Permalink

    Geez, maybe us old geezers are the only folks left in country who can walk into a building, see an old painting, and easily understand that is was painted in the context of a certain historical perspective, which doesn’t necessarily reflect our current understandings or perspectives.

  18. Alpha Neil
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

    Maybe the people who gave the artwork to the university will ask for them back. That would make them indian giv…**dragged away by bias report team**

  19. Doug
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

    They don’t just find the paintings offensive. They find them “harmful.” Harmful!

    I wonder if part of the trouble is that the paintings depict trappers. You’re glorifying people who kill animals for fur, and all that.

    • E.A. Blair
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

      Then paint in Nanook beating up the fur trapper with a lead-filled snowshoe.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted August 6, 2016 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

      That had crossed my mind too. It stereotypes native Americans as killing little furry animals – some of which might now even be endangered species.

      And as building canoes from birch bark – see how primitive they were!

      And why did Perreaux need a fort – could it be for protection from some Native Americans because not all of them accepted the White Man invading their forests with equanimity?

      Obviously these paintings are highly disturbing and should never be publicly exhibited!


  20. Ullrich Fischer
    Posted August 6, 2016 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Not so fast. At least one of those paintings could cause real harm is someone tried to emulate that person standing up in a canoe. That’s almost guaranteed to end with the canoe tipping over and dumping everyone in it into the water where hypothermia could potentially do them in. 🙂

  21. Posted August 6, 2016 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    It is hard to believe that this is not a joke or an Onion article!

  22. jay
    Posted August 7, 2016 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    When I was growing up, it was always a bit of fun and astonishment to puzzle over the bizarre squeamishness of the Victorians, where certain subjects could not even be discussed. It was, however a relief not to be in that world. Now, however, we’ve circled back. The subjects may be different*, but the suppressive mindset is the same.

    *Though there are lots of areas where sexual discussion is suppressed as well (even compared to when I was growing up). Sexual discussion must ONLY be done when projecting approved opinions. If the attitude du jour is not strongly projected, the discussion gets shut dow.

  23. Skip
    Posted August 8, 2016 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    UW-Stout is located in Menomonie, FYI.

  24. Posted August 30, 2016 at 7:45 pm | Permalink

    Great post! Yes, censorship is way over-used today. People need to exercise the use of their backbones and quit getting offended at every little thing.

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