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'A Foolhardy Business Decision' 


The icy response of Cal Poly's provost and senate to Cutcha Risling Baldy's request for a retention offer was a foolhardy business decision ("'Encouraged to Leave,'" May 18). Risling Baldy is a charismatic teacher and leader and likely destined for fame. Decapitating their Native-American Studies Department is shooting themselves in the foot.

Risling Baldy's request reveals an earnest intention to be faithful to her deep roots here. She's not just climbing the academic ladder: "Humboldt ... is my home. These waters run through my veins." And with time Risling Baldy will succeed in making clear to non-natives — who are just beginning to extricate ourselves from an earth-exploitative, extractive, destructive colonial approach to our environment — the value of the American Indigenous philosophy of life, in harmony with Earth and all its creatures. Risling Baldy's department offers balance to the heavily technological approach to science which Cal Poly has taken.

Anyone who was at the 2019 Adorni Center event celebrating the Wiyot's return to Tuluwat, or at the Land Back conference at Cal Poly this spring, could not help but feel the intensity and purpose in Risling Baldy's commitment to humanity. In both places, she had everybody on their feet.

Cal Poly does not know what it is doing. But it is not serving Humboldt County.

Ellen Taylor, Petrolia

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