By Bob Weaver|
Dr. Larry Cote, head of WVU's Extension Service and administrator over
West Virginia's 4-H program, told The Hur Herald his department may have
made a hasty decision with little consultation with those involved in the
grass-roots of the organization.
Cote has told the media the decision is final.
Most of the 44,000 members and 6,000 adult leaders were unaware of
administrative changes which caused the dropping of Native American
rituals from the program, and few paid administrators linked to the program
had knowledge of the concerns.
The WVU Extension Service is developing a feed-back system to create
alternative approaches to teaching their members "core-values which have
always been associated with 4-H." The long-time rituals were put together
by several of 4-H's early founders and have been part of campfires and
summer camps over an 80 year history.
The changes were initiated by a single complaint issued to the USDA. Cote
was adamant the use of Native American customs by 4-H over an 80 year
span was a desecration of spiritual rituals of Native Americans. No Native
American group filed a complaint.
Cote said he submitted the rituals to a "national review team" which
involved Native American input. He now states there was a second
Callers on several West Virginia talk-radio programs and numerous letters to
state newspapers have been expressing outrage in the 4-H community,
many stating the use of spiritual elements of Native American rituals have
been an essential part of the 4-H program, and have not been
Cote and his co-workers have drawn the line, taking a politically correct
stance on the issue, although he admits the issue is linked to concerns over
loss of funding from the USDA.
The WVU Extension Service declined to provide budget information to The
Hur Herald last week, an employee stating "They would want to know why
you want the information." The Herald has filed a Freedom of Information
A seminar regarding the release of public information and the Freedom of
Information Act was held at WVU a few weeks ago, to help WVU University
and government officials understand the need for openness.
READ "Educated Fools, Ivory Tower Arrogance" under Opinion and Comment