Diversity Caucus

2004/5 State of the Community Report


Excellence is about performing well above and beyond the call of duty. It’s about bringing a commitment to the task that comes from deep in the heart. It’s about the trust that it takes to work together when the odds seem slim or the goal seems unattainable. It’s about a community where none leaves part of themselves at the door---not their culture, their passions, or any part of their capabilities. This year the Diversity Caucus and other pluralism initiatives that strive for excellence on the campus have been recognized by yet another national award: The Charles Kennedy Equity Award. The award recognizes the efforts of the Diversity Caucus along with student clubs and Center for Liberal Arts; student recruitment programs that reach out to under-represented populations; training programs and assistance provided by the college's WorkFirst office; support services provided by the Multicultural Services office, Women’s Center and TRIO program; and the design of the BCC curriculum, which includes depth in cultural diversity as one of five general education requirements for all degrees.



Thanks to Ed Biggers (right), our Diversity Caucus Chair for 2004/5. Ed's been a great leader for us. He asks straight-forward questions which make us readdress why we do things. His lack of ego has made things go all the more smoothly. Ed's living proof that we should not let the BCC pecking order dictate power and privilege in our institution. Ed passed the leadership mantle over to Cora Nixon (left). Cora's already made her mark by organizing the opening week potluck and requesting that we move to regional and national prominence with our effort. Thanks also to Casey Spence, our always able and efficient Treasurer, who has stepped up to the plate for another year.


Living Treasures Celebration - The designation of Living Treasure is to honor those who made a difference in advancing pluralism in our community. They serve as models and mentors—providing inspiration with their purpose, heart, and wisdom. They are the folk heroes who live amongst us. This special distinction is our gift to the beloved “elders” as well as an expression of gratitude for all they have done. Often these members of our community did their hard work in frustrating and difficult circumstances with little or no recognition for their efforts. It was on the shoulders of these people that we were able to move forward in the past few years. On May 20, 2005 we celebrated the additional three Living Treasures, Phil Lucas, Helen Taylor and Tom Nielsen. It was an evening of healing, friendship, family, and celebration.

Courageous Conversations and Beyond Diversity -- The college enters its third year of Beyond Diversity workshops with nationally recognized expert Glenn Singleton and our weekly Courageous Conversations. Facilitators at BCC are increasingly recognized as experts and have been called to lead community efforts. Racism is like the weather: you can’t get away from it. If this is not evident to you, Courageous Conversations is a good place to start exploring why.

Employee Pluralism -- Juan Ulloa has taken the leadership of the Employee Pluralism Committee. They are spearheading recruiting for Beyond Diversity and have managed to include it as the focus on training on November 10 and 11th. The committee has taken on the difficult task of meeting our strategic vision of true pluralism in recruiting faculty and employees of color.

Student Pluralism -- Major achievements include the community Multicultural Fair, headed by Faisal Jaswal of Student Programs and Ron Taplin of Multicultural Services, which attracted an estimated 3900 from the community, Courageous Conversations for students and more data about students.

Pluralism in the Curriculum --  The Center for Liberal Arts gave us an incredible year of learning experiences around the Internment pulling in the whole community through the library system. We saw incredible growth in Ethnic and Cultural Studies. We look forward to the freshman diversity curriculum which will be a major incubator for recruiting underrepresented students of colors and developing cultural competency for all our students.

American Indian Film Festival-- The American Indian Film Festival continues to bring stimulating subjects to our campus. Phil Lucas does it again, compiling a memorable and moving program of films and speakers.

Connect to the Future - November 4, 2004 -- A student conference attracts an estimated 1600 to 1700 students to encourage diversity in high-demand careers.



Living Treasures Celebration - May 20, 2005

An evening of healing, friendship, family, and celebration.


We started our Living Treasures Celebration last year because we knew that the college needed a time every year for healing and renewal. We planned to hold our second LT Celebration towards the end of this academic year to honor Jack Surendranath and Rossie Norris, two Living Treasures who are retiring from the college. Jack was always an advocate for pluralism on President's staff and an excellent strategist. His caring and excellence as an instructor and administrator meant that any time he spoke in support of us we had an amazing amount of credibility. And Rossie--I remember a meeting with Jean Floten where Rossie (against all rules of chain of command) spoke the truth about the college being a long way from antiracist and demand in a voice that shook with fury that we need to do more. I realized that Rossie was in many ways a complement to Jean. As Jean challenged us to do more to grow and to be efficient and effective. Rossie challenged us to be more antiracist. Even though we are ahead of Harvard, we are a long way from getting it. There are more faculty of color being hired but the enrollment of students of color is flat. This is all the more lamentable when students of color are the largest growth population for our college. What will we do when Rossie leaves? Who will stand up and demand and continue to demand with the same heart?


Sharon Felton is a genius for thinking of Evan Flory-Barnes as our entertainment for the night. We wanted something very special for Jack and Rossie. Before Sharon got into the act, none of us could think of anything that would express the deep feelings of appreciation, of sadness, and, at the same time, happiness for them. Evan was a perfect choice because he's incredibly talented, he's handsome, and he is, of course, Linda Flory-Barnes' son. He embodies our aspirations for the future and why we all work so hard--it's for our children and their children. There is an incredible amount of world-class potential that is there to unleash. Only by fighting racism can we give them a chance to shine. Evan's band "The Threat of Beauty" performs exciting and innovative acoustic jazz. Only twenty-six, Evan has been acclaimed as a true rising star and has performed with some of the best of the new jazz world, including piano phenomenon Aaron Parks, with whom he recorded two CDs.  He's a graduate of the University of Washington. Evan's band played great background music as we ate and then they performed two of his compositions to express the place on the verge of a new world. His description and the incredible songs were just right to express the complex mix of feelings we have for Jack and Rossie.

It was appropriate to have a Living Treasure induct the new Living Treasures and they all did an excellent job because they spoke from the heart. Akemi Matsumoto spoke of how ironic it was that she was Phil Lucas' faculty mentor (all new faculty of color have faculty mentors) when he knew so much more than she did about even the Japanese Internment. Phil expressed how appreciative he was of the honor (Living Treasure as opposed to otherwise) and I can tell you that even with his Emmy and  Sundance awards, he was thrilled with being named a Living Treasure. Sharon Felton listed all the firsts that Helen Taylor had accomplished on behalf of pluralism including being the first Chair of the Pluralism Committee way back in 1991. Helen has done some major work with pluralism in curriculum development including the always fully-subscribed IDS course "Skin Deep." Helen talked about how her son remarked that she was reading Brown (by Richard Rodriguez) this year, and Yellow (by Frank Wu) last, and when was she going to be finished. She replied that she would never be finished, that this was a life's work. Alan Yabui spoke of Tom Nielsen's work behind the scenes to make pluralism happen. Tom brings such grace to everything he does including his acceptance speech. Those of us steeped in the tactics of civil disobedience really appreciate that Tom has the steely resolve to deliver the same message with such style. There were standing ovations for all our new Living Treasures. It was great to see them acknowledged.

The finale for the evening was the tribute to our retiring Living Treasures Jack and Rossie. The gorgeous Diane Harrison (also a Living Treasure) gave a hilarious tribute to Jack. She talked about how funny she thought Jack was the first night she met him and how he had a joke a minute. She learned after 23 years that it was the same eight jokes told many times. She talked about her family's skepticism about their interracial relationship and of how she had gone to places all over the world that she would never have gone to had it not been for Jack. And, she noted that in many of these places, they had met former students of Jack who had become doctors or other professionals. They all remembered Jack. It was great to get her loving and humorous perspective on Jack. Jack received his gift of a French oven from the Diversity Caucus and quipped that he'll cook something in it for the next LT Celebration. (Believe me, we would love to Jack's gourmet cooking at the next LT Celebration.) Jack reminisced about how he had arrived in the US for two years of graduate study and stayed a bit longer. He graciously thanked many people and introduced us to his two (very handsome) sons.

Last but not least, was Rossie's tribute. Students from the Black Student Union did it in fine form with balloons and flowers. One of the students talked about Rossie as his second mother and immediately you get an idea of Rossie's importance to their lives. He said that as long as he had Rossie's telephone number, she would be going to Africa with them every year. Then it was time for Rossie to speak and speak she did in her own inimitable style. She talked about growing up in the segregated "Jim Crow" south and moving to Seattle, originally thinking that she would work at Seattle Central. But as fate would have it, her neighbor, Sharon Felton, told her about an opening at Bellevue Community College. Rossie applied as was interviewed by Linda Flory-Barnes, who asked if she could live with "ambiguity." Rossie talked about how she came to know that it was her destiny to work at BCC that she had a mission here to fulfill. And she counseled us that when we face similar forks in the road, where one seems easy and the other hard, taking the hard road may lead to greater rewards. She thanked the groundskeepers, the maintenance people, people in campus operations like Mitchell Bland, Benayah Israel for supporting the BSU, and she spoke in strong support of the counselors whose ranks are been depleted with budget cuts. She introduced her (another handsome) son and goddaughter.


Courageous Conversations and Beyond Diversity

Racism is like the weather: you can’t get away from it. If this is not evident to you, Courageous Conversations is a good place to start exploring why.

An additional 40 people attended two days of training on having Courageous Conversations about racism with nationally recognized consultant Glenn Singleton, bringing the total number of people who have undergone this transformative training to over 140. Thanks to the strong recruiting efforts of the Diversity Caucus, we have over 90 people registered for the upcoming session in November 10 and 11,  2005 which will bring the total to well over 200. The goal of the conversations is to bring the college community to an understanding of the pervasiveness and debilitating effects of white privilege and institutional racism.


Ethnicity/Race Total % of Total % of Color
African_Am 12 9% 30%
APIA 18 13% 45%
Hispanic 9 6% 23%
Native_Am 1 1% 3%
White 101 72% -
Total 141 100% 28%


Ethnicity/Race Data Female Male Total
African_Am   5 7 12
  % of eth 42% 58% 100%
APIA   11 7 18
  % of eth 61% 39% 100%
Hispanic   4 5 9
  % of eth 44% 56% 100%
Native_Am     1 1
  % of eth 0% 100% 100%
White   68 33 101
  % of eth 67% 33% 100%
Total     88 53 141
Total % of eth   62% 38% 100%


Employee Type Total % of Total
Administrative 14 10%
Classified 46 33%
Exempt 30 21%
Full-time Faculty 30 21%
Part-time Faculty 20 14%
Board of Trustee 1 1%
Total 141 100%


Instructional Divisons Total % of Total
Arts & Humanities 22 35%
Business Division 15 24%
Health Sciences, Education & Wellness Institute 8 13%
Library Media Center 4 6%
Science Division 4 6%
Social Science Division 9 15%
Total 62 100%


Divisions Total % of Total
Administrative Services 19 13%
Continuting Education 1 1%
Educational Services 7 5%
Information Resources 14 10%
Institutional Advancement 4 3%
Instructional Divisions 62 44%
Human Resources 3 2%
President's Office  2 1%
Student Services 22 16%
Workforce Development 6 4%
Board of Trustees 1 1%
Total 141 100%


We share from the heart, we experience discomfort even pain, we cry, we realize betrayal, we try to deny, we get angry, and then we come to an understanding about the world as we’ve never seen it before. This understanding, this breaking down of the barriers, this new sense of community has been the reason for the renewal on campus. Courageous Conversations continue with five meeting times and an online session with Scott Bessho.






(10/11: N259)

 Ed Biggers

Robin Jeffers



7:15 a.m.


 Jennifer Gordon

Jim Bennett 


(for Students with classes about race)






Amy MacNeill

Shanika Russell

Rod Agassiz

Akemi Matsumoto 


(for Employees) 



(10/12: N259)

 Sue Cox


(for White Allies for

Social Justice) 



(9/29: C130A

(10/6: C130B)

 Denise Johnson

Matt Groshong




Employee Pluralism

Staff empowerment and leadership

The successful third annual Taste of BCC featuring the multicultural culinary artistry of our community in making soups was organized by Elizabeth Perrera Under the capable leadership of Juan Ulloa, the Employee Pluralism Committee has taken over the planning of the Beyond Diversity workshop and is recruiting for the next session planned for November 10 and 11, 2005. Efforts by the committee will be focused on hiring and recruiting in the next year. Although there has been much work on pluralism in our community, there has been little movement in getting the proportion of employees and faculty of color to meet or exceed the proportion of students of color.


Ethnicity Employee Type Employee Total Students**
Faculty* Classified Exempt Administrative Exempt Professional/Technical Total % of Total Total % of Total
Total % of Total % of Ethnicity Total % of Total % of Ethnicity Total % of Total % of Ethnicity Total % of Total % of Ethnicity
African American 13 1.5 36.1 16 6.0 44.4 1 11.1 2.8 6 4.3 16.7 36 2.8 420 3.4
Asian/Pacific Island 43 5.0 41.7 49 18.4 47.6 0 0.0 0.0 11 7.9 10.7 103 8.1 2,461 20.2
Hispanic*** 20 2.3 52.6 13 4.9 34.2 0 0.0 0.0 5 3.6 13.2 38 3.0 792 6.5
Native American 4 0.5 66.7 2 0.8 33.3 0     0 0.0 0.0 6 0.5 76 0.6
White 779 90.7 71.4 186 69.9 17.0 8 88.9 0.7 118 84.3 10.8 1,091 85.6 8,431 69.2
Total 859 100.0 67.4 266 100.0 20.9 9 100.0 0.7 140 100.0 11.0 1,274 100.0 12,180 100.0
Unknown       4           4     8   1,006  
Other                             552  
source:  SBCTC: data warehouse                            



Employees of Color by Category    
Employee Category Fall 2002 Fall 2003 Fall 2004    
Total % Color of all Employees Total % Color of all Employees Total % Color of all Employees % Change 2002/4 % Change 2003/4
Administrative 9 0.7% 2 0.2% 1 0.1% -78% -50%
Classified 84 6.4% 78 6.1% 80 6.2% -7% 3%
Full-Time Faculty 19 1.5% 19 1.5% 20 1.6% 0% 5%
Part-Time Faculty 54 4.1% 58 4.5% 51 4.0% 7% -12%
Non-Teaching Full-Time Faculty 2 0.2% 3 0.2% 3 0.2% 50% 0%
Non-Teaching Part-Time Faculty 6 0.5% 5 0.4% 6 0.5% -17% 20%
Professional/Technical 12 0.9% 22 1.7% 22 1.7% 83% 0%
Total Employees of Color 186 14.2% 187 14.6% 183 14.3% 1% -2%
Note:  includes all funding sources.  The following races/ethnicities are designated as "color":      
African American, Asian/Pacific Island, Hispanic/Latino, and Native American.        
Source:  Office of Institutional Research, Bellevue Community College.                


Race/ Ethnicity Faculty Students % Faculty of Total % Students of Total
African American 10 420 1.3 3.4
Asian/Pacific Island 37 2,461 4.8 20.2
Hispanic 20 792 2.6 6.5
Native American 4 76 0.5 0.6
White 701 8,431 90.8 69.2
Total 772 12,180 100 100



Pluralism in the Curriculum

True pluralism and an antiracist environment linked with rigorous and deep learning that starts at the heart.


Diversity Caucus faculty members were extremely active in the Center for Liberal Arts program of events around the Internment. Noted historian Roger Daniels spoke on “The Incarceration of Japanese Americans During World War II and Civil Liberties Today”  on January 28. Daniels is the Charles Phelps Taft Professor of History at the University of Cincinnati. He has published 12 books, including Prisoners without Trial–Japanese Americans in World War II; Coming to America–A History of Immigration and Ethnicity in American Life; and American Racism–Exploration of the Nature of Prejudice. Daniels was the primary consultant for the Presidential Commission on the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians and a member of the history committee that helped plan the Immigration Museum on Ellis Island in New York City.

Akemi Matsumoto said that she couldn't believe that there would ever be a day of remembrance for the Internment. BCC has such a day on Feb. 14, 2005 which featured artist, Roger Shimomura and his memories of internment, his experiences of racism and their influence on his life and art. Also presented were films “A Personal Matter: Gordon Hirabayashi vs. the United States,”  “Visible Targets," and "After Silence”.

Julie Otsuka's book, When the Emperor Was Divine, was the focus of three area reading programs – Seattle Reads and Bellevue Reads along with the BCC Reads program which initiated its selection. The novelist read at BCC on May 4, 2005. The adoption of our book choice showed the significant influence that BCC's pluralism initiative had on the entire community.

The Ethnic and Cultural Studies Department at Bellevue Community College was newly created in the fall of 2003 to provide an academic setting for students where the pursuit of life-long social justice and community activism are normalized as one of their learning objectives.  Throughout the course, students are taught to work in a collaborative manner to conduct research projects or discussions while they also practice to listen and respect diverse opinions.  Students are encouraged to make honest mistakes and exercise various leadership skills through activities such as field trips and interactive discussions with guest speakers from the community. As a subject, ethnic and cultural studies is the comparative analyses of racial and ethnic groups, interpretations of cultural practices, examination of biases, identity, distribution of power, and exploration of a vision of a “multiculturally intelligent” society, with heightened awareness of embedded beliefs and stereotypes regarding race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, class, and disability.

The Ethnic and Cultural Studies department continued to grow to nine courses: ETHN 100 Race in the United States, ETHN 102 Introduction to White Culture in United States, ETHN 105 Sociology of Black Americans, ETHN 109 Introduction to Women's Studies, ETHN 152 Introduction to Asian American Studies, ETHN 207 Literature of Indigenous Cultures, ETHN 210 Ethnic Experiences in Art & Music, ETHN 241Multi-Cultural Business Consulting, and ETHN 255 Hawaii, the Center of the Pacific. Sayumi Irey has provided phenomenal leadership with five key accomplishments in 2004/5:

  • Enrollment for both ETHN100 (Race in the United States) and ETHN210 (Ethnic Experiences in Art and Music) was 400% more than last fall.  Instructors reported that their classes required a waiting list for students to sign-up.  This is significant because most courses at BCC this fall did not perform as well as the Ethnic and Cultural Studies department did. 

  • The Ethnic and Cultural Studies department hired two new instructors this fall.  Professor M. Cash, BCC Scholar in Residence, teaches ETHN100, and Dr. M. Abe teaches ETHN210.  This is significant when most departments hired white faculty members while our department was able to hire two accomplished African American professors.  There are approximately 34%-38% students of color attending for each class this fall.

  • The Ethnic and Cultural Studies department now has a formal articulation agreement with the University of Washington Bothell American Studies with Interdisciplinary Studies major.  This agreement was accomplished during the summer of 2005, and it is an official document between BCC Ethnic and Cultural Studies department and UW American Studies department.  The Ethnic and Cultural Studies department started to work with Eastern Washington University Interdisciplinary program as well as UW American Ethnic Studies department. 

  • The Ethnic and Cultural Studies department now has 9 classes and Skin Deep (Interdisciplinary course).  This was 33% up from the first year.  Ethnic and Cultural Studies are planning to offer at least one online class in the near future. 

  • The Ethnic and Cultural Studies department co-presented two student centered-cultural diversity pedagogical workshops (1) an evening workshop for mainly for BCC part-time faculty members and 2) BCC new faculty workshop during the Summer Teaching Institute.). 

    Continued expansion is in the offing in the 2005/6 academic year with 200% more classes winter 2006 as compared to winter 2005.     The Ethnic and Cultural Studies department will continue to grow with careful planning but also with boldness.  Cross collaboration is planned with the English department and Ethnic Studies will have a large impact on the upcoming freshman curriculum.

Student Pluralism

Increasing awareness of pluralism as it relates to students



Student Pluralism Committee


The purpose of the committee is to enhance the college’s regular efforts in recruitment and retention of students from diverse populations including students with disabilities.


At the beginning of this year under the leadership of Faisal Jaswal, the committee established the following goals:

1.      Increase awareness of BCC’s Pluralism efforts pertaining to students

2.      Create a signature community event that fosters college and community support for the college’s diversity efforts.

3.      Increase participation of indigenous students of color in student leadership positions.

4.      Increase student participation in pluralism initiatives and training.

5.      Review Student of Color Retention Statistics.

6.      Recruit new committee members.

Akemi Matsumoto became chair of this committee Spring Quarter 2005.


Goal 2:  Create a signature community event that fosters college and community support for the college’s diversity efforts.

In April 2005, Student Programs and Multicultural Services organized a Multicultural Fair named "Unifying the Community" on April 9 that was attended by an estimated 3900 community members and students. Activities included performances of world music and dances, a festival of cultural films (including “Nazrah: A Muslim Woman's Perspective”), an ethnic food tasting, an Interfaith Café open discussion forum (providing opportunities to talk about various faiths and pertinent issues) and Conversations on Race and Culture. Participating organizations include the Unity Project Interfaith Group, Chaya/Peaceful Families Task Force, the Interfaith Council/City of Bellevue, the Red Cross Language Bank, City of Bellevue/Citizenship Class, Youth Eastside Services, seven BCC student clubs, BCC athletics teams and cheerleaders and more than 50 other non-profit groups and vendors.


Goal 3.  Increase the number of indigenous students of color in Student Government:

The committee recommended that the deadline for application for student government positions be extended from April 8, the first week of spring quarter, to at least April 22 in order to publicize the student government positions and the election. The SPC understood this change had to happen within the structure of student government and the Student Justice Board.  The deadline was extended to April 14th. For next year, we need to begin recruiting and publicizing Student Government Positions at the beginning of the year and certainly during winter quarter of 06. The 2005-06 officers are indeed diverse and include at least 3 indigenous students of color.  This is probably not due to any efforts of the committee but we did send an e-mail to the Diversity Caucus asking any faculty to talk with indigenous students of color in their classes about these positions. 


Goal 4.  Increase student participation in pluralism initiatives and training.

April 22, 23, and 24, Akemi Matsumoto piloted a student “Beyond Diversity” workshop in the form of HD 140, “Race in America.”  A component of this two credit class was participation in the weekly Student Courageous Conversations on Race, Racism and Whiteness.  This group was facilitated by Amy MacNeill, Rod Agassiz, Shanika Russell, and Akemi Matsumoto. If students could not participate in the weekly conversation, Scott Bessho lead an on-line conversation.  The average number of students in these conversations was 10. The HD course on race will be offered again this quarter.


Goal 5.  Review Student of Color Retention Statistics

We seem to have met or exceeded our goals in Student Retention 3.3 and 3.4 in the Summary Status of BCC Performance Indicators.  We need to meet with Valerie Hodge to understand the data.  During Spring quarter, Shanika Russell compared number of work hours of white students vs. students of color and found that white students actually work more hours/week. Valerie Hodge did a similar study a few years ago.  We need to see if the findings were the same.


Goal 6.  Recruit new committee members to increase campus-wide perspectives.

Akemi sent an e-mail with the committee spring quarter work plan to the Diversity Caucus and the participants of the Beyond Diversity workshop to ask for new members.  The following people volunteered for the committee

Norma Whitacre, Title III Administrator

Suzi Lepeintre, English Faculty

Elman McClain, Security Officer

Blaine Parrott, Security Officer

Shari Smelser, Residency Coordinator, Student Services

Next year the 15 members of the committee are:

Tika Esler

4 Students (to be determined)

Three faculty:  Suzy Lepeintre, English

                                                Michael Righi, Economics

                                                Akemi Matsumoto, Counseling

Student Service Representatives:

                                                Faisal Jaswal, Student Programs

                                                Ron Taplin, Counseling Faculty

                                                Shari Smelser, Dean of Students Office

                                                Susan Gjolmesli, Disability Support Services

Others:             Tom Pritchard, Social Science

                                                Norma Whitacre, Ttle III

                                                Elman McClain, Campus Security

                                                Blaine Parrott, Campus Security


In addition to these goals, the committee collected data about the campus racial climate at BCC.  We conducted 6 focus groups of students of color to ask them about the racial climate at BCC. This project was done in cooperation with Title III and the Dean of Students Office.  Incentives for student participation were funded by the Dean of Students ($15 gift certificates to the BCC Bookstore) and the Pluralism budget ($350 for pizza and beverages). Akemi Matsumoto scheduled and convened the groups and acted as recorder for the sessions.  Six focus groups were held with the following facilitator of that racial group:


White Students---Suzy Lepeintre

Native American/Alaskan Native Students---Phil Lucas

African American Students---Rossie Norris and Ed Biggers

Hispanic/Latino Students---Tika Esler

Multi-Racial Students—Tom Prichard

Asian Pacific Islander Students—Myra Van Vactor


Shanika Russell ordered the food and beverages


A total of 62 students participated.  The raw data is attached to this report.  At a joint meeting between the IPC and the SPC, it was decided that each of the Pluralism Committees would examine the raw data in relation to their focus area and use the data to plan for the 2005—2006 year.  Suzy Lepeintre of our committee agreed to do an analysis of the raw data. 


American Indian Film Festival

Shaking our faith in traditional pedagogy and showing us how much we need to learn.


A native drum performance is an incredible experience and the third annual American Indian Film Festival opened with the Snoqualmie Drum Group. Jesse Lucas (Phil Lucas’ son) shows incredible poise and leadership with the group. Jay Strevey worked his usual magic with lighting. We almost take it for granted that anything we spring on Jay will be done in the most professional manner.


The opening film is “Broken Chain” produced by Hanay Geiogomah and Phil Lucas. Although more than a decade old, it is a remarkable film with great historical accuracy including the influence of the Iroquois confederacy on the American Constitution. Ron Taplin remarked that every kid in school should see the film. “Healing the Hurts” is Phil’s profoundly moving film about termination, the governmental policy (aptly named termination) that took American Indian children away from their families and placed them into boarding schools where they underwent all manner of abuse. To understand American Indians, you have to understand how boarding schools devastated American Indian families and culture. According to the Museum of the American Indian, almost 200 American Indian tribes have disappeared.


The first evening is for the Leengit Kusti Dance Troupe performance of Native Alaskan dance. Mario Fulmer, a Leengit/Tlingit, is a first-year student at Bellevue Community College and President of the First Nations Student Association. He is working towards his associate degree so that he can transfer to a chiropractic university in California. He has been involved in tribal dancing for the last 13 years and will be dancing tonight. The dance troupe has brought in their own community and there are many families in the audience.


Zandra Apple gives the blessing and the introductions for the Tribal Gaming Forum which opens the second day of the festival. The first session features Russ Steele and Bernice Delorme. Russell C. Steele, Chief Executive Officer, joined Port Madison Enterprises (Suquamish Tribe) in 2001 bringing with him 30 years of experience in all phases of the hospitality industry. In the last year, Port Madison Enterprises has successfully opened a new casino operation and just recently acquired Kiana Lodge, a popular facility for weddings, company parties, and conventions. More growth plans are in the offing.

Bernice Delorme is a Turtle Mountain Chippewa from Belcourt, North Dakota with deep black hair and a dramatic white streak at her forehead.  Her Indian name is Megezee Equay (Bald Eagle Woman). She holds a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, an MSW from the University of Washington, a J.D. with an Indian Law Certification from the University of New Mexico and an L.L.M. in Taxation from the University of Washington (the first Native American to hold this degree).  She is a Tribal Attorney for the Puyallup Tribe of Indians. Bernice starts by telling us that she was put in a boarding school. As she speaks, I think of the power of American Indian women. Many tribes are matriarchal and matrilineal. As of 2001, 22% of native nations are led by women as compared to 3.4% of the world’s other nations.

In Washington state, 27 tribes with a combined population of 91,000 contributed $1 billion to the state’s economy. Gaming revenues totaled $440 million and are a relatively new phenomenon, having risen in the past 10 years. Bernice explained that gaming is a traditional activity of the tribes and the success of gaming varies vastly across the tribes and is dependent on location. Some tribes like the Pequot and Mohegan have been extremely successful while others have not. Profits from gaming are used predominantly for social, health and educational purposes. As a result of gaming profits, many tribes are losing their federal benefits. There is no doubt that gaming has raised the well-being of many tribes. These are summarized in studies available at the Harvard American Indian Project.

Russ Steele talks about the progress made by the Suquamish Tribe and how Port Madison Enterprises is expanding its operations to other hospitality ventures. Russ (not an American Indian but married to one) finds his work much more gratifying than when he worked in the mainstream private sector. His goal is to train tribal members to take over key management positions and they already have two members in college. Ray Mullen, economic director for the Snoqualmie, joins the panel for the 12:30 pm session. Before he leaves, Russ Steele commits to having our American Indian Film Festival at the new 3,000-person outdoor theatre that will be finished in 2006.

Filmmaker Benjamin Eichert talks about “Zapatista” is a film about the indigenous people of Chiapas. When the North American Free Trade Agreement was implemented in 1994, the Mexican government moved to divide the land among the indigenous people of Chiapas, a region in the southeast of Mexico. A similar policy of allotment in the US (implemented in 1887 and repealed in 1934) or taking land that belong to tribes and dividing it among the individual members of the tribe resulted in 90 million acres of the best lands in the 134 million acres held in trust for American Indians to be passed onto non-Indian owners.  


Armed with sticks and words, eight thousand Zapatistas (named after the legendary revolutionary Zapata) fought 75,000 Federal troops to a stand-still. Ignored by a mainstream press that cannot and will not cover them, the Zapatistas used poems and children’s stories smuggled on horseback and distributed on the internet to inform the nation of their struggle. In 1996, Benjamin Eichert and two of his friends decided to go down to Mexico and create a film about the struggle. They had just completed their first year of college (the same age as many of our students) and had never done a film before. With much naïveté and ingenuity, they managed to get enough money to buy two digital cameras (which had just come out and turned out to be exactly right for the forests of Mexico) and with credit cards proceeded to Mexico. They make their way deep into the Lacandon jungle. The light-weight, inconspicuous equipment get them into places where they meet with Dominican Priests and Mayan elders; peasant soldiers and warrior poets; radical students from the city; indigenous men, women and children; and even the elusive spokesperson for the movement Subcommandante Marcos. It took them two years and a tremendous amount of luck to complete the film.

“Zapatista” premiered internationally at screenings in London, Mexico City, Oslo, Norway, Havanah, Cuba, and Hollywood and has toured North American. It won First Place for Documentaries at the NEXTFRAME festival and Best of the Festival at the Smithsonian Institute’s Latino Film Festival.  “Zapatistia” is a great example of how important film is in communicating political and social messages.


Benjamin talked about the incredible directness of the people of the Chiapas (descendants of the Mayans), most of whom have only a second grade education and very little financial resources. The village pools money together to send promising children for further education. Once educated, they are expected to come back and teach others. In recent years, the people of the Chiapas have implemented their own government which they call the “good government” as opposed to the “bad government” of the official Mexican government. Under this system, leaders are rotated every three months such that every person is given the opportunity to learn how to lead.  (Isn’t this the model we adopted for the Diversity Caucus?) Women play an important role in the military and in leading their struggle.


On the third day of the festival, Eduardo Gomes presents the film “Raoni” about a Brazilian chief who fought for the indigenous people and for the Amazon rainforests. The indigenous people in Brazil once numbered 4 million and are now down to a few hundred thousand. It’s no wonder the struggles of indigenous people are tied so closely to environmental concerns.

The Pejuta Drum Group are Plains Indians and include Lakota and Dakota close the festival with many songs including their national anthem. The other songs are to honor things. One was to honor Highway 18, a road on which the federal aid comes to the reservation. The song says the aid is coming but they are better than that.

An estimated 500 people attended the events of the festival which was put it together on a shoestring again. We hope that we achieved our goal of giving more visibility to the First Nations Student Association. For us, it’s a labor of love. We do it for each other and for the unbelievable learning that we receive.

Connect to Your Future

Student career conference to encourage diversity in high-demand careers

An estimated 1600 to 1700 from BCC, other community colleges, and several local high schools flocked to the BCC campus on Nov. 2, 2004 to attend the student career conference jointly planned by The Boeing Company and BCC. The conference was groundbreaking in its planning and scope. Our undying gratitude to the three managers from Boeing, Jerry Bunce, Dave Halverson and James Westfall, who worked alongside individuals from the Career Center, Student Services, Student Programs, Tech Prep, High School programs, the Science and Business Divisions to mount this ambitious conference. The mission of the conference was to motivate students to pursue careers in science, technology, and business.

The day was jumpstarted with a keynote address by Rick Stephens, Sr. VP and President of Shared Services of The Boeing Company and a member of the Mission Tribe of California. Rick leads 21,000 people in an $8 billion unit of Boeing. He is also a national workplace expert. His talk was a challenge to students and the college to "learn, unlearn, and relearn" what we need to ready ourselves for the new workplace.  Following this stimulating keynote, eight panels covered engineering, women, biotechnology, field science, diversity in business, local to global, computer science, and science intersections. The purpose of each panel was to show the diversity of the people who are successful in these areas and to give students an idea of the often circuitous path that people follow to achieve their career goals. The Boeing managers and panelists (who included national experts in their fields) volunteered their time to make this conference a success.

And more

Thanks to kbcs 91.3 fm for Voices of Diversity programs which featured Sayumi Irey and Kim Pollock. Congratulations to Robert Jefferson, Program Director who appeared on the cover of Colors NW.