Santa Barbara City College’s Apology for Wooden Teepee Constructed on Campus



Non-Native students "playing Indian" at Santa Barbara Community College

Non-Native students “playing Indian” at Santa Barbara Community College

SANTA BARBARA — Dr. Lori Gaskin, president of Santa Barbara City College, issued an apology for its art department’s role in the construction a wooden teepee on the West Campus of the community college:

Late last week, a student art project was installed on the West Campus as part of a performance art course we offer. The project was the construction of a teepee. The student group who engaged in the project explained that they chose this particular time-based art piece for several reasons including the interest they had in the architectural form of the structure and the desire to create a space for connectivity, engagement, and reflection.

The installation of this art piece offended our Native American students and community. The art students, their professor, and members of our Native American community met yesterday and engaged in a heartfelt and authentic dialog. It pains the students and the faculty member to know that they unintentionally offended our Native American students and community. It is painful for the college and all of us as well.  I apologize to all who may have found the installation disrespectful of the Native American culture. I can assure you, such an intent never entered the minds of these art students or their professor.

As an educational institution, we seek to cultivate in our students intellectual curiosity, exploration, growth, and understanding. Unintentionally in this situation, that journey led to pain, hurt, and feelings of disrespect. No one wishes that upon fellow students and members of the community. To our Native American faculty, staff, administrators, students, and community. . . we are sorry.


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