• California State University, Sacramento
    California State University, Sacramento
  • Racial prejudice
    Racial prejudice
Rate now

Maury Wiseman was accused of racism and anti-Native American bigotry following an in-class confrontation he had with a student in 2015. Wiseman allegedly claimed that he did not consider the term ‘genocide’ appropriate relative to U.S. settler and government actions against Native Americans. According to his former student Chiitaanibah Johnson, who is a Native American of Navajo and Maidu descent, Prof. Wiseman argued against using the word genocide because “genocide implies that it was on purpose and most native people were wiped out by European diseases.”[1]

Upon being challenged by Johnson with facts alluding to her points, Wiseman allegedly accused her of “hijacking” his lesson and of “making [him] sound like a racist and a bigot in [his] classroom,” and threatened to disenroll and expel Johnson from the course.[2] Following the incident, Johnson met with the university’s president, Robert S. Nelsen, who apparently told her that “his hands were basically tied” and that Wiseman was protected by his faculty’s labor union.”[3]

Following a month-long investigation, the university president determined that “neither side was at fault,” but that the school would take on additional measures to address the issues raised during the controversy, including the addition of a minor in genocide and Holocaust studies, training for both faculty and students on cultural sensitivity and student conduct.

Prof. Wiseman was not required to attend the training.[4]


[1] Schilling, V. (Sept. 6, 2015). History Professor Denies Native Genocide: Native Student Disagreed, Then Says Professor Expelled Her From Course. Indian Country Today. Retrieved from https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-studies-tribal-colleges/history-professor-denies-native-genocide-native-student-disagrees-gets-expelled-course/

[2] Flaherty, C. (Sept. 15, 2015). Not Up for Debate? Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2015/09/15/sacramento-state-student-says-she-was-kicked-out-class-arguing-native-americans-were

[3] Schilling, V. (Sept. 13, 2015). Native Student and Family Disappointed After Meeting With University President Re Native Genocide. Indian Country Today. Retrieved from https://indiancountrymedianetwork.com/education/native-studies-tribal-colleges/native-student-and-family-disappointed-after-meeting-with-university-president-re-native-genocide/

[4] Magagnini, S. (Oct. 7, 2015). Sac State president: neither side at fault in confrontation over term ‘genocide. The Sacramento Bee. Retrieved from http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/education/article38147970.html

Social Profiles

Departmental Contact

Jeffrey Wilson, Chair of the History Department

Contact email


Ratings by students for this professor

Student ratings with the TrueRate seal have had their academic status confirmed. Views expressed are the reviewer's alone.