WALTHILL — The anguish felt in the recent death in January 2020 of 29 year-old Ashlea Aldrich, an enrolled Omaha tribal member and mother of two toddler boys, has shaken the local Omaha Reservation community in Northeast Nebraska to the core.

Little is known of the actual circumstances of Aldrich’s passing other than alcohol was involved, and her death is still under investigation, but problems in relationships, including domestic violence, are well known throughout Indian Country, as well as in the broader culture.

The two public schools districts that serve predominately Omaha tribal students, Umonhon Nation in Macy, and Walthill Public in Walthill, have also been affected. Both districts, while unique, have problems rooted in the troubled history of both Euro-American and Indigenous cultures, and the students, their parents, administrators, teachers, staff and school board members, all together are aware of this.

The students themselves, especially the girls, acted on their First Amendment rights in requesting school administrators toward expressing their grief and concern both for Ms. Aldrich, and for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW), a movement among Aboriginal People that has gained traction throughout the country in recent years.

Hiding behind established policies that in most instances could readily be waivered, the administrators and board members of both schools have struggled with these exceptions, permission to have MMIW T-shirts made to be shared by both schools’ basketball teams, and for honoring MMIW by painting a distinctive red or black hand across their faces during one game held at their respective schools.

Umonhon Nation has yet to decide, while Walthill blatantly dismissed their cheerleading squad, claiming the dismissal had nothing to do with their “unauthorized” but respectful demonstration during halftime of a local basketball game that caught national attention over the last several weeks.

Never mind that at Ignacio High School in Durango, Colorado, the entire girls’ basketball team was photographed in December with the MMIW hand across their faces, and earlier this month were busily preparing a gymnasium with educational materials for an upcoming game whose proceeds would go to a local MMIW group!

It is time that the administrators and school boards of these two local schools wake up to the failure of the 1950s in local parental policies, and address the needs and learning potentials of students in the 21st century, who are more than capable of handling honest, forthright, and adult matters often better than their elders, if given the respect and opportunities to do so.




Omaha Tribal

Historical Research Project

In other news

NORFOLK — After reading (Starbucks’ presence in low income communities) Jan. 17 edition, I was just underwhelmed with AP distortion of some facts exhibited. They submit that Starbucks opened a store in Ferguson, Missouri in 2016 (two years after devastating riot that followed the shooting of…

McCOOK — From my viewpoint, the two biggest issues facing the Nebraska Legislature this year are property tax relief and a new economic development incentive program. Both are important, but in terms of economic development in rural Nebraska, property tax relief takes priority.

ORCHARD — The scam that you’re always being warned about may not always come from Africa or Jamaica. It may come from right here in the good old U.S.A., and in fact, even Nebraska.

PIERCE — On Jan. 28 at the conclusion of the West Point-Beemer at Pierce basketball game, the West Point-Beemer team was walking around the stands picking up trash. I visited with one of the players who came by me and I commended the team, coaches and administration. What a class act.

LINCOLN — I take issue with the recent editorial claiming “Those who oppose sexual orientation discrimination bill have valid reasons for doing so.” I watched the Legislature debate this bill last year. I heard opponents resort to fear-mongering including discussions of “men in women’s bathr…

The numbers from Nebraska’s 2019 catastrophic flooding are immense and show the continuing need for strong, coordinated recovery work. Total damages exceed $3.4 billion. Floodwaters damaged more than 7,000 homes. Of Nebraska’s 93 counties, 84 qualified for federal disaster assistance. Road a…

OSMOND — It has been a little over five years since a letter arrived from the City of Osmond informing me of a proposed road improvement to First Street. I made a point to check out the road on that street, and the road appeared to be in good condition.

NORFOLK — In reply to the young lady with disabilities who wrote about LB147, I am sorry that you are concerned about your well-being. I do not think the authors of this bill intend that anyone be injured. They are merely trying to protect our teachers.