Wisconsin School Forces Native American Girl To Remove Her Traditional Menominee Medicine Pouch


A school in Wisconsin has forced a Native American teen to remove her traditional Menominee medicine pouch from her neck.

The traditional Menominee medicine pouch is used for prayers and is a common practice among many Native American tribes across the United States.

According to the Free Thought Project, on October 21, 2015 a 13-year-old Native American student named Rosella Kaquatosh, was removed from class before school administrators confiscated her sacred medicine pouch. The incident happened in the village of Gresham.

The girl was reportedly waiting in the school lunch line when a kitchen employee noticed her wearing the medicine pouch like a necklace. The kitchen employee then demanded that she remove the pouch.

With the help of other administrators in the school, Rosella was forced to remove the pouch. Although the pouch contained a sacred medicine that contained tobacco, the form of tobacco that was in the pouch could not be chewed or smoked. It is used only for sacred prayers and ceremonies.

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The school took the tobacco out of the pouch and sent Rosella back to class. School authorities later forced her to tuck the pouch inside her shirt, even though the tobacco was removed.

The Free Thought Project reports, “It seems as if the school was as offended by the pouch itself as they were by the tobacco inside.”

Rosella’s grandmother, Karen Gardner, told the Indian Country that the school was against the pouch because it contained tobacco. She was quoted as saying, “She saw her pouch and she started hollering at her, saying ‘take it off!’ She felt bullied. She told her it was ceremonial tobacco. She explained that she needed it to pray. She prays about four times a day. She respects the sacredness of the pouch.”

The activist, Sean Celtiad also explained how the school’s actions are offensive to the teen and rest of the Native American Society in the US.

“Sounds like more of that good old time religion at work. That woman reacted to the pouch as if she was seeing the devil itself, probably looks down on Native Americans as pagans, either way she had no right to demand the young woman to remove it, the principal had no right to open and remove any tobacco from it, if she knew anything about what she was dealing with she should have left the pouch and anything it contained alone, those pouches aren’t just ceremonial adornments, they are made in a sacred manner and the principal did just about the worst thing anyone could do by opening it at all, even worse by taking any tobacco out of it. Hopefully the young woman will not be affected by what was done and will make or be given another sacred pouch and defend her right to wear it however she wants to-it is no different than a person wearing a cross if they need a comparison,” Celtiad said.

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In the past, activists have said that Native people in the US are heavily discriminated against and cannot freely express their heritage. Many have called for immediate action to be taken against the school.

Last month, the Free Thought Project reported on a similar story where a 7-year-old Native American student was sent home from school because he had a traditional Mohawk haircut.

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  1. Does anyone know if there are any active petitions against the school available to sign online? I don’t live nearby at all but sure would like to make a difference somehow. This is ridiculous.

  2. I know you have over 4 million people that like this page, but some of the comments on this site are out of control! So disturbing. The lack of empathy for the human race and our world problems. Please get rid of the trolls if possible. I’m referring to one article you posted about the Native American girl forced to remove her medicine pouch. Some of those comments terrify me and I think to myself how can anyone say such horrible things or worse actually believe them. Look through the comments and see. Can’t you erase some of those comments?

    • Granted, there are some fairly ridiculous or incoherent sounding comments, but I don’t think it is right to censor people because YOU cannot just ignore it and move on. We’re all entitled to an opinion, so chill out.

      • While you are right, everyone is entitled to an opinion, so are they. Their opinion is to remove the trolls. I choose to ignore, they do not, and they are entitled to their opinion to speak out against the trolls. The whole free speech thing is a funny circle. Cheers

    • I think getting rid of ‘troll’ comments would be a mistake. We need to be very aware of these people to constantly be on the alert to the level of fascist and racist presence abound in the so-called land of the free. These people who wrap themselves in the flag are enemies of free, not the patriots they pretend to be. The same have tromped on the rights of red, black, and brown since before America was founded. Liars and thieves!

  3. This is something which makes me really mad. How dare those overly chriistianized barbarians forbid someone to express his/her non-christian religion? Do they really think they are superior to others? If so, they should take a real good look in the mirror.

    • Don’t blame Christianity for everything, I agree that she should be allowed to wear this, it’s not like she was wearing a fucking burka and they probably wanted tobacco for themselves.

        • that’s not even the same thing!! A tobacco pouch is sacred to Native Americans and used for praying. A burka is just a piece of clothing forced upon those women to wear because their men don’t want anybody else looking at them. And,a burka comes from another country. This is something genuinely American! NATIVE AMERICAN!!

  4. I’m a muscogee creek and i think that school should be sued for discrimination and violation of her civil and constitutional rights not to mention assault and theft if they held her and forceably took her pouch!what would they have done if they had found nothing more than a couple of marbles inside instead of tobacco?

  5. In light of all the concessions that are being made for a certain religion in the workplace, and schools, and LGBT, in schools, I cannot fathom the hypocrisy it takes to take away this sacred object.

    And to the person who talked about ‘overly Christianized barbarians’, I am not a Christian, but I cannot presume to know what the people believed, or the rules in the school that are in place that makes the school feel justified in their wrong doing (in my opinion), but I think it’s pretty presumptuous to assume it was because of Christian principles, and then to judge them based on your very possibly wrong presumption and call them names is probably not the most brilliant thing you could have said. I hope.

  6. Having graduated from Gresham in 2010 I can tell you they are extremely racist in every way half of the teachers there are constantly making racist comments at their students and saying other racial slurs is not discouraged at all by any school members. This school was almost shut down around 2006 and it should have been.

  7. No matter how many times we peer through the looking glass, nothing changes. This was a crime of racial and religious discrimination, plain and simple. How many times have we seen this activity taking place no matter what laws are established to try and prevent it? To my American brothers, I feel sad for you. The constitution that you have, paid for in blood, is a well written document, but you may as well use it to wipe your ass with for all its value to protect people of all creeds. Your northern cousins are not that much better off. ONLY when we recognize that the Native population are people with inalienable human rights and NOT disposable constructs will they be given the rights they so deserve. To the teachers of that school, you bring shame and disrespect on your own heads for your blatant actions of disregard, and you should all be fired for it. It seems there are still members of the MASTER RACE that are trying to make their mark. My heart goes out to this young girl who was violated because of an act of ignorance and hatred.

    • I cannot comprehend why people have to hate other people. I would love the chance to learn about the Native culture. What we were taught in school was nowhere close to the truth, I’m sure. I know my family has a Native Indian background. I think what they have is beautiful. Americans have lost their backbones. For adults to come down on this child and take away something so sacred is inexcusable. * Sweet dear, I apologize for this person’s actions. Not all white people have hate in their hearts. This woman is ignorant. I hope everyone involved can see the negativity of their ways. I hope they can see how much they hurt you. They owe you so much more than an apology. While we have no idea who each other is, you have my heart. You are a strong, beautiful, young woman. Never let anyone tell you who you ‘should’ be. Again, from my family to yours, we deeply regret these actions and do not condone such behavior. I say this with such love and respect for you. * We are all Americans, no matter where we came from. We all need to realize that the past is done. There is nothing we can do to change it. I, along with anyone born in the past century, cannot be held accountable for the actions of our forefathers, unless we continue making the same judgements and idiotic mistakes. I love this country, but my heart hurts knowing that we still cannot let go of racism. There are only two types of people in this world. People with love in their hearts and people with hate in their hearts. We will always see the difference in each others appearances, but so what? The only thing I care about is whether a person is going to be friendly or if they have an agenda to harm my family, friends, and neighbors.

  8. This is a much her right to wear this as our right to wear a cross necklace to school. It is her faith. This should never happen again. Very personally things are put in medicine bags. A friend of mine went to ceremonies seeking spiritual help with cancer. The items must be private. She was healed of her cancer, and I believe the peace she received from her faith helped. These bags are considered sacred. It is a proven fact when native children have pride in their culture and are grounded in their traditions, they do well in school, in society and their future. We need to quit shaming the native children. The board of Wisconsin Education should have training for school employees on proper behaviors with native culture. I hope this does not happen again.

  9. Sage and sweetgrass the new street drugs lol. Whats wrong with you conservative crazy kkk Americans? Its not haed to google medicine pouch… What a waste of internet space…

    • It was not a conservative that did thus i assure you. I totally defend her right to wear this. Thats whst conservatives believe is that there is too much government in peoples lives telling them shat they can and cant do. Naybe you’re on the wrong side.

  10. how dare them someone is going to have to do something america needs to stand up native americans have more rites than all of us you bring all thes other people coming over hear an destoring our american get your big panities on an stand up for america an her children dont admitt anymore people into america untill wer can take care of our own i live in a small hick town alot people dont have running water heat with wood an coal really having a hard life but they try we all true americans needs to stand up for ourselves an our neghbors we cant pray in school let everone have their own personal whatever we are loosing ours because we offend strangers hellow let them worship whatever we will worship our god we will pay for what we du not for what they do sent thr people back if they dont belong leagel if you are leagel then stay but respect our usa or go back eather one

  11. How dare they, they are “NATIVE” Americans and the school had no right to empty the pouch out. No different than wearing a cross or a family heirloom locket!

  12. I am a Roman Catholic Irish American and I feel this is a grave violation of this girl’s rights. This is a sacred prayer object which should not have been touched. We all should have the right to pray in our own way. Or not pray if you so choose. At the least she deserves an apology. They don’t even know what they are objecting to. We must practice respect towards each other in our similarities and our differences. If there is a petition or some other action I can take to support Rosella please post it.

  13. Native Americans Rights are protected by the U.S. Constitution, the school is in the wrong and it is not the school place to dictate how people should live, they need to apologize to Rosella Kaquatosh.

  14. It is so sad that we have become the “Individualized State of America” where only that specific person opinion matters.

    noun, plural societies.
    1. an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes.

    When did we become so self absorbed that we are willing to stand by (or be an active participant in) watching the destruction off our society.

  15. People forget we are all human beings.I see this as bredding hatred.Really what sort of world are we living in.Some ppl should be ashamed.Its so sad.

  16. That is completely wrong. They had no right to violate her medicine pouch. I am not Native American and I was raised a Christian but I believe in everyones right to worship as they desire. I feel very sorry for the way Native Americans are treated.

  17. But they let the Sikh carry their daggers. This is one of the most hateful things to do to a person, unforgivable. What is wrong with those teachers and teachers board. To think these are teachers who are supposed to know and teach children cultures. I am just so angry about this. What the hell do they teach teachers. In your own country you don’t know anything about Native Americans, oh that’s right you don’t care about other cultures or countries you only believe the lies that are told to you. If you only knew the truth about what your US government really said and did through history.

  18. I just love how all the non-Christians start attacking ALL Christians over something ONE person does. How do you know she was even a Christian? She could have been a Muslim or in a cult or other religion of some kind! They pray too ya know. People always have to jump to conclusions and tear down a religion over the actions of one person. Christians (God loving ones) are prayerful people who want to help others, not like this lady.You are stereotyping a group over 1 persons actions. Was she a Catholic Nun? I heard they were always strict in the schools…stop pointing fingers and accusing when you don’t know the whole truth. One bad apple in the barrel does not mean they are all spoiled. The devil gets in churches, or in this case the school to you know.
    I guess if they allow the Indian girl to wear her religious symbol, then all religions would be allowed to do the same thing. Christians could wear crucifixes on their necklaces or Bibles with tiny scriptures inside. Catholics could carry their rosary beads, Muslims can wear the hooded robes or whatever they are. IF the school has a policy, then it should be followed. Perhaps the girl should have worn it inside her shirt while at school. After all, rules are rules. Kids have to be taught to obey them throughout their lives or they end up in jail or the cemeteries.
    The school could have been notified that the girl had to have the pouch on her for a reason and perhaps they would have let her wear it but in a more hidden area. I’m not saying the lady did not go about it the wrong way, I am just saying that people don’t see the whole picture anymore, they just jump at anything, right or wrong without knowing what all is going on first.
    People anymore just seem to want something to complain about and force change when it doesn’t need to be changed. In the past, shorts were not allowed in schools nor were shaved heads and pants hanging down to their knees. That was their rules. Over the years someone had to make one complaint about being discriminated and the whole system gets changed. SMH!

    • Well the rules we’re supposed to follow can heavily interfere with religious freedom,which is one of the biggest things the US boasts of having. This country is screwed anyways though, it just gets worse and worse. People are pacified by the government. And many of our laws are biased, in the UK the legal age of consent is 14, here it’s 18. That’s a good example of moral bias in the US. The constitution? Our civil rights? You might well just tear up the constitution,because our freedoms are crushed. SOme people like to think they’re still there, but under the surface we don’t have much true freedom left.

  19. I am so sorry this young woman was put in this terrible situation. How traumatizing. I do hope that the school system and local authorities will apologize for this situation. Based on this article, it seems she was victimized. Many prayers that she can emotionally recover and that her community and family will support her during such a difficult time.

  20. After reading this article I was dismayed but not surprised. Things are slow to change, the racial intolerance (hatred) will continue as long as those in authority are allowed to force their racist or religious beliefs upon children of other cultures. I as a small child in grade 1 was physically forced to my knees and held there and made to kiss the feet a statue of Christ. I wonder how Jesus felt about that expression of Christianity. Leave all children the heritage they were born with and perhaps they will grow to respect you and yours.

  21. Native Americans have Freedom Of Religion Protections under Federal Laws. No school administrator nor employee has the right to demand, disposess, and harass a student due to racial discrimination, or religious persecution. The school should be sued, by the parents, on behalf of their daughters rights. The school violated her human and civil rights, and in order for this dynamic to change, there must be real consequences, placed upon the school, for they are at fault and their bullying and allowing one of their students to be “bullied” and violated in that manner.. by forcing her to remove and taking and removing her pouches contents without her permission or consent, is just plain WRONG!!! Set an example by bringing a lawsuit against them.. not only for your daughters sake..but for all the other students, so the white or christian students will know that bullying others for religious views, or culture, is not tolerated in school environments and also for all the other native kids across the country, who may of dealt with or be exposed to similar types of abuses.

  22. “So, you want to be a school administrator.” 1st question: “Are you or can you be a complete moron?” Yes, you say? Then you are hired! Congratulations!

    Where as an insightful person, not a highly educated academic, might have asked, “What is the pouch? Could you share with your classmates its importance, what it means to you and something about your heritage?”

    PS: Good thing the pouch didn’t have a pictograph of a bow and arrow, she would have been expelled, maybe even sent to jail.

  23. if you will let the People from Iran and Iraq and that part of the world pray in public places and then you refuse a person born in this country and can post ancestry back before the white man came to this country and refuse her religion you have to refuse them their religion. PUT SOME INTELLIGENCE SOME WHERE IN YOUR HEAD AND YSE IT. THE SCHOOL AND ANY ONE THAT WOULD BACK THE STUPID SERVER NEEDS TO BE FIRED OR WORSE FOR THE GIRL WEAR THE POUCH AND HAVE THEM REFUSE TO SERVE YOU AND TAKE THEM TO COURT FOR DISCRIMINATION AND IF YOU DO NOT WIN LET AS MANY KNOW AS IS POSSIBLE

  24. Wear the bag..without the tobacco…
    Skip the lawyers..
    Please state proof of racism at the school..
    Give examples…specific examples…..
    Without ranting…


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