HUNTER GRAY [HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R. SALTER,JR.]

[Mi'kmaq/St. Francis Abenaki/St. Regis Mohawk]

 

The new enlarged and updated edition of my book, JACKSON MISSISSIPPI: AN AMERICAN CHRONICLE OF STRUGGLE AND SCHISM, is now fully available for purchase.  The publisher is Bison Books/University of
Nebraska Press.
 
 
The initial Introduction in the two earlier editions has been replaced by one written by me: "On The River Of No Return."  This is, in many ways,  a large, additional chapter [about 9500 words] which up-dates Mississippi, discusses our family's always interesting experiences since the first edition of JM appeared in 1979, and contains supplemental autobiographical material.  And, of course, it also contains something of my reflections as a life-long social justice organizer.
http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/product/Jackson-Mississippi,674910.aspx
 

(The photo on the book's front cover is from our Woolworth Sit-In at Jackson, Mississippi on May 28, 1963 -- the most violently attacked sit-in of the '60s. Left to right:  myself as John R, Salter, Jr, Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, Anne Moody.  http://hunterbear.org/Woolworth%20Sitin%20Jackson.htm

 

And see Shooting Lupus, now expanded 7 / 09 / 2011 (my killing
a very deadly disease in an eight year war -- a disease that did
its best to kill me): http://hunterbear.org/shooting_lupus.htm

 

BIGOTRY AND FEAR AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA: SOCIAL JUSTICE AND ACADEMIC FREEDOM FIGHTS

 

SOME REFERENCE POINTS:

http://www.hunterbear.org/narrative.htm  [personal narrative, current]

http://www.hunterbear.org/special_tribute_page_for_hunter.htm  [2004-2008, covers most of my life, consistently updated]

See the  2005 Elder Recognition Award  -- a great honor for me.  From  Wordcraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. This is one of several awards voted by the Caucus [board] of this organization of writers, storytellers, film makers, and journalists.  [The previous recipient of the Wordcraft Elder Recognition Award was Maurice Kenny, Mohawk, teacher and playwright and poet, who received it in 2000.]
 http://www.hunterbear.org/elder_recognition_award_for_2005.htm

 

MARTIN LUTHER KING AND FOUR NATIVE RIGHTS ACTIVISTS -- INCLUDING MYSELF -- HONORED BY NATIONAL INDIAN GAMING ASSOCIATION  (INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY, JANUARY 16, 2012)

 
Thanks very much indeed to Ernest Stevens, Jr. and NIGA (National Indian Gaming Association) for honoring Dr King and the four Native civil rights activists and leaders. I'm greatly pleased to be included in this group, some of whom I've met and with whom I've worked at various points.  Hunter Gray (John R Salter, Jr)
 
 
http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2012/01/16/ernie-stevens-jr-honor-mlk-and-native-civil-rights-leaders-72722

 

MY VERY CHALLENGING AND OFTEN VERY STRANGE EXPERIENCES IN TEACHING AND THE SAVE THE WORLD BUSINESS AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA -- TWO FULL PAGES, REGULARLY UPDATED AND EXPANDED [HUNTER GRAY/HUNTER BEAR/JOHN R SALTER, JR]

 

[A representative slice of the still continuing ethos at UND:

Recently, my oldest son, John Salter, wrote to a number of people of good will in another context.

"The silence of those we'd expect to speak out is troubling. Hunter has mentioned his substantial involvement in the Warner Native American Church case in the 1980s. Hunter has never taken peyote or been a member of the NAC, but this was an important civil liberties matter for everyone, not only for us Indians. Back then you had University of North Dakota faculty whispering in the hallways about how supportive they were, yet these same people were nowhere to be seen (or heard) when the case went to trial. The federal courtroom was packed with out-of-towners, out-of-staters, yet Hunter and  his students  (and often his children) were usually the only local spectators. Hunter was the only local voice out on the steps, so to speak. That takes courage. I'm amazed that some of you, so brave when it comes to other issues, so ardent in your defense of obscure political theories, are so wary of speaking out now."  J.S. ] 

http://hunterbear.org/alcohol_and_peyote_and_native_am.htm

A SORT OF A PROLOGUE:  During the 13 years that I taught at University of North Dakota, I was -- early on -- a tenured Full Professor, departmental chair of Indian Studies for four years, chair of Honors for a good stint, member of the Graduate Faculty.  I won various prestigious awards, mostly from the state level beyond UND -- but students [and not the UND bureaucrats and sycophants] awarded me the annual UND Faculty Advisor Award [from Student Government.] Native students honored me at many points. I did major advocacy work all the way through on behalf of students and Native nations, and in the general community, and in the region.

[I continued those endeavors even after I left UND via retirement and I continue those to this moment here in Idaho.]

I began teaching at the college/university level in 1960, interspersed this with social justice community organizing -- Native rights, civil rights and civil liberties, union labor.  All in all, I taught full time for about 26 years, and also did additional part time teaching in various settings.

The UND experience featured for me thousands of fine students -- Native and non-Native --who I taught, and I liked virtually every one of them [as I have everywhere].  But, regarding almost all the administrators and many faculty and some staff, UND had, to put it mildly, very few honorable and courageous people.  Many were Machiavellian and many were just plain cowardly.

I was the only Native American on the faculty who was tenured  and a Full Professor. I would describe my experiences with most of those "other" people -- most administrators and many faculty  and a few staff -- as quietly hideous.

My classes were, as they have always been everywhere, quite large.  When it became known that I was retiring at the end of the 1993-94 academic year, they boomed even more.  The last class I taught at UND was my Federal Indian Law course.  It had almost 65 students, mostly Native, and the largest ever for that complex subject.

When I finished that course, I was making a salary of $36,500 per year.  It may have been the lowest salary in that faculty rank of full prof in any state school in the United States.  Normally, a retiree at UND was given an office and a [literal] chair, an official dinner, and a photo.  I received none of those -- and, when I sought an explanation, there was none that made any sense.

But Native students gave me an excellent dinner, replete with gifts that I shall always treasure.

Normally, I would have received Emeritus status.  But that was effectively blocked by my two "colleagues" in Indian studies:  two Anglo women.  Despite repeated requests, no specific reasons have ever been given by any UND echelon for this refusal to grant me conventional Emeritus status.  At UND, the "system" and administrative check-and-balances work only in essentially non-controversial matters.  Otherwise, there's no adherence to "System" or " due process."

Here is much of my UND story.  There will be more in due course, on this website and as part of an autobiography.  And, even more than that, we shall certainly use every ethical resource at our disposal to rectify this situation.  We can take a long view -- and, in any case, one with every expectation of ultimate justice.

Hunter Gray [John R Salter, Jr]  2011

 

"UND is like a remora, a sucker fish, attaching itself to a Marlin. Yes, they've expunged you on paper and cyberspace.  But you'll always be lurking just beyond their firelight like a wolf, waiting for the coals to die down."

From a Native well wisher, December 2004

 

We will be substantially expanding this section on UND  -- and we do have much to say.  Worth noting, apropos of several current mentions in my two pages right here, that Mary Jane Schneider has retired from UND Indian Studies and, with her husband Fred, also a prof [anthro], moved to Norman, Oklahoma.  Others have come into the Indian Studies department and gone -- since I left. 

In the same context, Dean Bernard O'Kelly of Arts & Sciences finally retired from UND and moved to Illinois.  He died there in February 2005.

If you search most of the public records of UND, you will not find me -- either as John R Salter, Jr or John Hunter Gray or Hunter Gray. [I am in the Retired section of the UND Directory.] This surrealistic Non-Person effort is despite the fact I was there for 13 full years, taught thousands of students, served as Indian Studies departmental chair, served as Honors chair, was on the graduate faculty,  and won prestigious awards from [among others] UND student government and the State of North Dakota!  I was honored in a very special sense by Grand Forks Air Force Base.  And over the years I was also given splendid and extremely welcome Pendleton blankets and star quilts and fine bead and leather work by Native students and Native student organizations and hand carved crafts by Native prison inmates.

The refusal, sans any reasons whatsoever, by UND to give me Emeritus status -- routinely given retired professors -- has kept me out and off of most university records, such as the regularly issued catalogs.  Creative malice has done the rest.

But here are very fine and welcome words from a good man and friend:

 

 

2011:  Although it has been a good while since we have considered it especially desirable -- and now no longer give a really special damn -- there has been no Emeritus status in my case. 

A letter of October 2001 from UND President Charles Kupchella -- to be discussed in a moment -- was obviously completely meaningless -- if not intentionally diversionary. In the weeks and months ahead, we shall have a number of things to say [and do] about my [non] Emeritus situation and many more collateral and otherwise related ones as well.  A number of these matters are quite contemporary in nature.

For much of 2008, the UND president continued to be Charles Kupchella. As of July 1 2008, the president is Robert Kelley -- formerly a dean at University of Wyoming.  All things considered, it's highly unlikely that this "change at the helm" will alter anything at the University of North Dakota.

 Dean Jeremy Davis of the Law School, who frequently handled complex legal matters, and who sought to prevent or at least ameliorate difficult situations negatively affecting faculty and key staff, has long since moved on to an eastern school.  His replacement, as "General Counsel," Julie Evans, quickly emerged as someone whose advocacy appears limited to the narrow, self-serving canyons of the UND "establishment."  [It is worth noting that, a few weeks before I retired at the end of the Spring term, 1994, an exceptionally vicious campaign -- initiated in shadowy fashion by an ambitious pretender -- was launched against one of the few really decent administrators at UND.  Jeremy Davis and I appeared before then president Kendall Baker, and I spoke for around 40 minutes on behalf of the targeted person.  That conclusively ended that perfidy  and this fine man was totally exonerated].

A few years before, in that general context, rumors were circulated that I was suffering from dangerously ill health -- even a malignant brain tumor! "All I have to do to disprove this," I said, then in essentially perfect health, "is to keep on living."  And I did indeed do just that. I should mention that, between 1988 and the Summer of 2003, I took not even one aspirin.  [Weird, covert observation by a UND "kept" physician -- sycophant  -- pretty much ended those sorry speculations about my alleged mortally ill health. ] This, I should add, is a bizarre story that deserves to be told and certainly will be.
 
My office was obviously rifled on several occasions.  While I have no knowledge of who-all was actually involved in this, the motives and the ramifications were clearly very hostile. See

http://hunterbear.org/a_bizarre__1979_fbi_smear_effort.htm

 

And  all of my classes continued to grow -- and grow.
 

We are presently in direct contact with a wide range of empathetic people of varied backgrounds who have considerable interest in UND.  And, at this point, 2011, our Lair of Hunterbear website often draws between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors per day --and sometimes more.  Many are Native people -- and many are people from various colleges and universities around this country, Canada, and elsewhere on the globe.  The Emeritus situation is most certainly not our greatest concern.  We do have a strong and unyielding commitment to justice -- and our view is indeed a very long and enduring one. As a son of mine has remarked in this matter, "Revenge is a dish best served cold."

 

AN INTRODUCTORY NOTE  -- WHICH GIVES AN IDEA OF MY CONSISTENTLY CONTROVERSIAL ADVOCATE STANCE ON HEATED SOCIAL JUSTICE ISSUES WITHIN AND AROUND UND:

I wrote the following letter  [under my original name of John R Salter, Jr]  and published it in The Dakota Student [University of North Dakota] on April 30, 1991.  I was not surprised that it angered a number of administrators as well as some faculty. The UND student response -- across all sorts of racial/ethnic/cultural lines -- was extremely positive. My letter was subsequently published in the May / June 1991 issue of the excellent socialist journal, Against the Current, under the title, "Defeat Racism, Don't Censor It."

I stand, of course, by every word I said, then and right to the present
moment.



SPEECH BAN WON'T END RACISM  -- John R Salter, Jr  [Hunter Gray]  DAKOTA STUDENT  4/30/91

I'm completely against any efforts to ban racist or sexist speech, or any
other speech, on college and university campuses -- or anywhere else.

I speak as both activist and academic and as one who has been involved in
social justice pursuits and teaching since the mid-1950s.

American Indians have traditionally recognized the right of everyone to be
heard -- no matter how unpopular or  even noxious the verbiage.  Whatever
its many limitations, my native state of Arizona has never deteriorated --
despite the presence of the copper bosses and the farming magnates, among
others -- into the sort of closed society once exemplified by Mississippi.
In part, at least, this has been because of the libertarian traditions of a
far-ranging frontier where "things open out instead of in" and where free
speech has generally, however grudgingly, been respected or at least
tolerated.

I've never known any effort anywhere to ban speech that   really "worked."
I've known few such efforts that, sooner or later, weren't turned against
the advocates of constructive social change.  Hell, look at human history.

Frankly, some of the most sanctimonious proponents of suppression of racist
and sexist speech in university settings have been, in my observation,
administrators whose real commitment to, say, affirmative action has been
Zero -- and who frequently have worked against anything of a tangible nature
that would increase the numbers and morale of women and minorities in
meaningful positions.  Other, more well meaning official folk, worry about
"negative speech," expressing their concerns in the context and style of a
prattling timidity that brings out the worst in everyone.

Here at the University of North Dakota, in a state and region where Native
Americans are the most substantial minority, our Department of American
Indian Studies offers several sections of a course called Introduction to
Indian Studies -- which fulfills a state teacher certification necessity and
also meets certain humanities and social science requirements.  About 350
students per year pass through these courses [I teach 200 or so personally];
the majority are Anglo, with a good number of American Indians and other
minorities represented.  In this classroom setting, academic dimensions are
heavily laced with confronting all kinds of people hang-ups and we deal with
these in a non-guilt-trip, "say what you please" hang-loose sort of
atmosphere.

This works -- and often these students go on to take other courses of ours,
such as Contemporary Indian Issues or Federal Indian Law and Policy or
Plains Indians.  Common interests, common concerns, and common allies
surface.


And in many other sectors, in and out of the university setting, we
challenge all kinds of anti-people words and deeds and patterns.  We've done
it openly and candidly -- and without tearing people down.  Our efforts are
interracial and intercultural.

We've seen things improve enlightenment-wise with the students, considerably so,  and with many townspeople.  But we still have a long, long way to go in getting minorities and women hired in solid and influential university positions.  Academics -- including academic liberals -- are  certainly often harder to deal with than an essentially nice Anglo kid who has some
hang-ups.

The kid is usually honest enough to face up and change, given a firm push or
two or three -- done in a friendly fashion.

We just have to keep fighting, all of us together, step by step.  But let's
not waste time on dangerous gimmicks like gag laws and regulations.  The
real prize lies "over the mountains yonder" and we can catch it -- if we
don't allow ourselves to be de-railed and diverted into the canyons.

[Editor's note:  Salter is chairman of the Indian Studies Department.]

 

2006 NOTE: On October 9, 2001, I received a letter from UND President Charles Kupchella [dated 10/1/01] with respect to the never explained nor even ostensibly justified UND refusal to grant me obviously much deserved Emeritus status.  His letter is quoted in its entirety below.  In its concluding portion, the letter contains this sentence, "Be assured, however, that we will not allow any arbitrary injustice to stand.  If we find there is a rationale for taking action, we will do so."

__________________________________________________

An excellent letter was sent to President Charles Kupchella of UND, on July 6, 2001, from a person whose late mother was a very prominent UND alumnus, who had a very strong interest in Native American affairs, who had donated many valuable Native American arts and crafts to UND, and who had won major UND alumni awards. The daughter and her husband, well known social justice activists, were [and are] quite concerned about the fact that I [HG] “. . .was the first and only Native American to retire as a UND faculty member [and] was not granted Emeritus status although this is routinely granted to other retirees.” These good people were also concerned about UND’s general lack of support for Leonard Peltier. The daughter went on to say, “My late mother. . .would be very disappointed in your attitude and actions. . .She was vitally interested in redressing injustices done to Native Americans.”

 

Since then, the person who sent this very solid letter has been informed by President Charles Kupchella that he has not been aware of these situations of concern. [Note by HG:  The whole issue of my non-Emeritus status has been very much in the media of Grand Forks and environs.]

Almost two months passed -- and no word from the University of North Dakota to me.

------------------

On August 31, 2001, I wrote via e-mail to President Charles Kupchella and to Dean Jeremy Davis of the Law School. [Davis is now long gone from UND.] I followed this up with print copies to each. Quoting the letter from the daughter of the prominent alumnus, I then indicated that we are working directly with grassroots people in the UND/Grand Forks environs to develop an effective Leonard Peltier Freedom Committee.

I then summarized, in considerable detail, my very negative situation at UND and concluded by saying: “To come directly to the point, I am formally asking now that I be granted the long overdue Emeritus status and that I be granted that forthwith.”

For many weeks indeed, there was no response -- not even an acknowledgement.  And, essentially, this is consistent with the traditions of the University of North Dakota: initiate injustice, refuse to acknowledge it, and -- in the context of contempt -- refuse to respond to efforts to secure equitable redress.

On October 9, 2001, I finally received an answer from UND President Charles Kupchella:

"I received your e-mail recently and I remain at somewhat of a disadvantage. I know nothing about Leonard Peltier or about the merits of any case you might have.  He, as far as I know, has no connection to the University of North Dakota.  I have seen nothing that would compel me to get further into his case or situation.

As for your status, what confronts me here is that normally -- and, in fact, in every case of which I'm aware -- the recommendation for Emeritus status comes from the academic department.  This is University policy.

You obviously have spent quite a few years in a University environment, and are, thus, fully aware that things such as honorary degrees, promotion, tenure, emeritus designations, and all such things are derived from a process involving faculty at appropriate levels throughout the organization. You surely understand my reluctance to interfere with that process because it would have serious long-range implications concerning the role of faculty for all aspects of governance. Be assured, however, that we will not allow any arbitrary injustice to stand.  If we find there is a rationale for taking action, we will do so.

I am not sure which point you're trying to make about the status of your retirement, since as you say, you made application for it."

Signed:  Charles E. Kupchella, President      Copy to Julie Evans [UND attorney]

Note:  With respect to his final sentence:  I had commented sardonically in my letter that, since I had not gotten a number of things which a retired professor normally receives [e.g., Emeritus status and more], then perhaps I hadn't actually retired after all.   HG

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

For our part, without making this a new version of one's "life work," I will have much, much more to say -- and do -- about all of these issues.  [I am presently doing much writing for my autobiography.]  Like many indeed, and there will certainly be many, many more of us,  we are very much involved in a broad range of social justice matters:   Native rights, labor, civil rights, civil liberties -- and the increasingly big issue of peace.   But there is unfinished business for us at the University of North Dakota -- matters which obviously exemplify a number of justice issues.  And with respect to those, and all of the other issues in the good and worthy fight, success will be ours in the long run.

                                                               Hunter Gray   2011

I have heard from many well-wishers.  Here are two examples:

"If President Kupchella was really unaware of things like your situation," a good friend [Chippewa],  former long-time student of mine, and UND grad recently wrote, "then he really doesn't have much of a future at UND."

And from a senior professor -- a well known civil libertarian -- at one of the nation's best private colleges: "Thank you for posting me on this sordid matter.  Were I in your place I'd be deeply upset . . . But right now you are doing the right thing: as administrators always remind us . . . TELL SOMEONE.  You are clearly going this route, and I do hope the press in ND gives the UND Ind Studies dept full, fair, and thorough coverage. I also hope you have some powerful allies in the state legislature who can publicize  the situation.   Take care, good hunting, and good luck.    Am rooting for you in this bizarre situation and trust you'll get your emeritus status PLUS a letter of apology."
                                  

             
SOME OF MY SOCIAL JUSTICE CAMPAIGNS AND RELATED MATTERS:

I have always been either a full-time organizer and a part-time professor -- or a full-time professor and a full-time organizer. 

The student body at Tougaloo College, civil rights activist to the core, awarded me -- through Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity -- its Faculty Citizen of the Year Award in 1963.  In 1969, at Coe College,  following our successful union organization of maids and janitors [via my Social Conflict Seminar], I was given the annual Outstanding Faculty Award by the student body.    Students/faculty, staff/administration presented me with an extraordinarily fine turquoise and silver Navajo bolo tie at Navajo Community College [now Dine' College] when I left there for the University of North Dakota's Indian Studies Department in 1981.

At the University of North Dakota [UND], based at Grand Forks -- from which I retired as a full professor and former departmental chair in 1994 -- I was, as I always am, an extremely popular teacher with always large and sometimes huge classes [even in the most challenging Federal Indian Law!]

I was also deeply involved in the UND Honors Program, taught Honors courses over the years, and served a stint as Chair of Honors.  And I was a member of the Graduate Faculty.

And, as always, I consistently organized hard-fought social justice campaigns.  Among those in the North Dakota context:

The successful fight against entrenched and multi-faceted police racism at Grand Forks -- and I served for many years as the primary organizer and  "spark plug" of the Mayor's Committee on Police Policy and as the advocate for victimized people.

The successful exoneration -- and major religious freedom victory -- for the defendants in the viciously intensive Federal attack on the Native American Church [the peyote faith] at and around  the Devils Lake Sioux Reservation [now Spirit Lake.]  I coordinated  all legal defense -- and all community, regional, and national support.

The successful fight against the UND administration's Faustian pact with Union Carbide to "test burn" dioxin-producing PCBs at UND -- which would have endangered everyone in the whole Grand Forks region.  We ended this whole scheme forever.

The successful fight against broad-based and deep Anglo racism at the reservation border town of Devils Lake, N.D.  A hard-fought and long-going campaign, we made many significant breakthroughs in this 1950s type situation -- utilizing a wide variety of creatively effective tactics.

And I chaired the Community Relations Board at Grand Forks.

In addition, I successfully handled a few hundred individual/ family advocate cases involving virtually every conceivable situation.

And I and others, over the years,   consistently pushed bona fide union organization for UND faculty and staff -- working with AFSCME, NEA, and AFT. I held, along the way, several elected leadership positions -- and we successfully processed many grievances indeed.  [At one point, about 1989, I very publicly denounced UND as "a big plantation" -- a characterization carried widely by news media.]

[I have, of course,  continued my activism all the way through these many many years -- wherever I am.]

From Idaho -- 2001 and for years thereafter-- I worked extremely hard to build widespread pressure on North Dakota and Grand Forks with respect to the then unsolved murders of Native men at the Forks in September, 2001. (Those have since been solved.) Added to this, from Summer 2002 onward  to this moment (2011) are our continuing efforts regarding the disappearance and unsolved murder of a Native youth at Grand Forks -- whose body was found in November 2002 just off Highway 2 near Devils Lake.  We are also busy on social justice issues at Pocatello [Idaho] and the general area.

See  http://www.hunterbear.org/NATIVE%20AMERICAN%20COMMISSION%20PAGE%204.htm

When you fight for social justice, you make enemies: I was, of course, subjected to a great deal of incessant Red-baiting by covert cowards -- who also worked assiduously to spread a snake-den full of vile and poisonous canards.

But you also make a great many friends -- and I had an enormous number in the Native community, among working people and in other grassroots settings, with countless students.  And a great many of them are still fine friends to this very  moment.

In 1988, I was honored with the annual UND Outstanding Faculty Advisor Award -- given by Student Government.

In 1989, North Dakota Governor George A. Sinner and the State King Commission, presented me with the Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Award for my historical and on-going social justice activities.

Again, in 1989, the North Dakota State Department of Public Instruction (Indian Education/Equity Programs) awarded me its Annual Civil Rights and Social Justice in Education Award.

The Commanding General and officers of Grand Forks Air Force Base presented me in 1989 with an excellent plaque and dinner on behalf of my historical and contemporary human rights work.

Native students, Native student organizations, and Native prison inmates honored me with many fine gifts: blankets, star quilts, bead work, leather work, hand carved crafts.

And then -- when I retired from UND, its only tenured Native American prof [after several of the most pervasively unpleasant working years I've ever put in -- but the students, as always, were great !],  I was not awarded the title of "Emeritus" by the two Anglos in the Indian Studies Department or the other local "powers that be."  Given routinely to virtually all other UND faculty and administrators, absolutely no reasons have ever been given me for this denial -- despite many requests [including media requests] over the intervening years for such.

The UND administration, which, when it wishes to do so, has never displayed any reluctance to involve itself in any university matter,    has publicly taken the position -- to media and to others -- that there is nothing it can do in my Emeritus situation.  This, I should add, is consistent with its general reluctance to defend my academic freedom during the period that I was a teaching professor at UND.

A great many people -- Native and non-Native -- continue to be very disturbed by the denial of Emeritus status and the refusal to provide any reasons for such.    Local media continue to discuss my strange situation -- and supportive former students and other friends call into talk radio on the matter.

The just concluded UND administration, headed by President Charles Kupchella and his sometime Academic Vice-President John Ettling, were of no help whatsoever.

The basic reason for the denial of Emeritus status is, obviously, my long and controversial -- and very effective -- history of social justice activism.

__________________________________________________

CHALLENGES: AT NORTH DAKOTA -- AND UND

These are a few excerpts from one of many, many extensive media interviews I gave on the deplorable wages/hours/working conditions situation at UND -- and the compelling need for militant and effective unionism: from The Dakota Student, October 24, 1989, front page.  [Hunter Gray/John Salter, Jr.]

"Much of this state has a plantation ethos, developed and shaped initially by the huge bonanza farms," Salter said.  He said these anti-union sentiments have sent many of the state's most active labor proponents west to states like Idaho, Washington, and Montana. . ."

"There is a very basic, consistent, and eternal human quest for a full measure of bread and butter and for a full measure of liberty, all over the world, including North Dakota."

According to Salter, effective trade unions are the key to securing this full measure. "They're absolutely critical," he said. "They are the most critically needed organizations. The worker's best and only protection is his or her union."

He said more and more people are realizing this, especially after what he termed the "hideous layoffs" at UND's Rehab Hospital in Grand Forks.

According to Salter, there had to be other alternatives than a mass layoff.  "They [the administrators] should have spotted this as an economically dysfunctional situation long before they did," he said.    "This should serve as a warning to everyone."

"There's a long way to go.  The wages and working conditions at the University of North Dakota for most employees are deplorable," he said. 

He said that in addition to poor wages in relation to national and regional levels, most faculty are under-equipped, overworked, have little job security, have poor grievance channels and almost no benefits.  He said a defeat of the tax measures on December 5 will further compound the problems, but faculty and staff must protect their rights. [Note by HG/JRS: The tax measures were defeated.]

"Under no circumstances should any of us, faculty or staff, let the university presidents and the State Board of Higher Education work out their financial problems at the expense of our job rights, and we aren't going to let them do that," he said.

Salter said religious and community leaders need to do less fence straddling and be more vocal in regard to social justice issues. Still, he said, the real impetus will have to come from the grassroots level.

"You have to take your rights sensibly and vigorously," he said.

According to Salter, this includes the right to strike and the right to engage in collective bargaining, even though the State Legislature hasn't approved it.

"The right to bargain collectively is a natural right, not one that needs to be given by the Legislature," Salter said.    "You can't wait for approval. Nothing would ever happen."

_______________________________________________________________

SO, THE ISSUE OF EMERITUS STATUS --

I took "retirement" from UND at the beginning of the summer, 1994, and realized very soon thereafter that I was not listed anywhere as "Emeritus."  I then made several fruitless efforts over several years to determine definitively what had happened -- writing to UND officialdom.  It was not until I received a  letter dated February 10, 2000, from then Vice-President for Academic Affairs John Ettling, that I was formally notified that I had been denied Emeritus status.

And absolutely no reasons were given.

_______________________________________________________________

Here is one of many strong letters of support sent on my behalf during my very difficult years at University of North Dakota:  from Ms. Susan Mary Power, Standing Rock Sioux, author of the best-selling novel, The Grass Dancer [1994], and the forthcoming novel, Strong Heart Society. Susan's mother, Ms. Susan Kelly Power -- herself the daughter of Ms. Josephine Kelly, former long-time chairperson of the Standing Rock Sioux -- made supportive telephone calls on my behalf to UND in the turbulent Spring, 1993. 

 

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CONTINUE ON FOR MUCH MORE ON ME AND MY WORK, INDIANS AND INDIAN STUDIES, HARASSMENT FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF NORTH DAKOTA, AND THE ISSUES -- ON THE NEXT PAGE -- WHERE IT ALL BECAME EVEN STRANGER!

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