Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 21, 2024

The Red Nation -- Albuquerque Teacher Cut off Braid, Verbally Assaulted Student: Pack the Courtroom


On October 31, 2018, two Indigenous students at Cibola High School in Albuquerque, New Mexico were assaulted by their teacher, Mary Jane Eastin. One student, had roughly three inches of her braid cut off, and McKenzie Johnson was called “a bloody Indian.”

Pack the Courtroom: Monday, April 29, 2024, 10 a.m.
Central New Mexico Community College, Smith Brasher Hall, 717 University Blvd., Albuquerque, New Mexico 87106

By The Red Nation, Censored News, April 21, 2024

On October 31, 2018, two Indigenous students in an Advanced Placement literature class at Cibola High School in Albuquerque, NM were assaulted by their teacher, Mary Jane Eastin. One student, who asks to remain anonymous, had roughly three inches of her braid cut off, and McKenzie Johnson was called “a bloody Indian.” 

The day of the incident, Eastin decorated her classroom as a witches’ den and dressed as a witch. The students were instructed to leave all their belongings behind as they entered the dimly lit classroom and began their assignment.

Eastin used a flashlight interrogation-style to conduct the assignment and punished any incorrect answers by forcing students to eat dog food. When students refused, she escalated and threatened them with a box cutter, ultimately cutting the hair of an Indigenous student. Two of three Indigenous students in the classroom were targeted. We believe this to be racially motivated and a blatant act of anti-Indianism.

Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) was slow to respond. The principal did not initially reach out to the Johnson family. Eastin was not removed from her job until November 30, a full month after the assault. The superintendent did not issue an apology to the family until December 2018. To this day, Eastin has never apologized and, based on information and belief, continued to teach out of state.

McKenzie Johnson, victim of the racially-aggravated verbal assault, has bravely spoken out for years despite both repercussions and the traumatic nature experiences. The full testimony, recordings of the initial APS board meeting, and remarks from the Johnson family can all be heard on this week’s episode of The Red Nation Podcast, and can be found at

On January 8, 2020, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico filed a lawsuit in the Second Judicial District Court against APS and Mary Jane Eastin for violating the New Mexico Human Rights Act (NMHRA). This case has now reached the Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico.

At stake in this case is something very fundamental: the protection of all students attending public schools in New Mexico. Currently, students are not protected legally from discrimination at the hands of public school teachers under the NMHRA.

We demand that the broad definition of “public accommodation” in the NMHRA be interpreted as it reads, so students can be protected in public schools. Furthermore, we demand the Supreme Court of The State of New Mexico uphold the New Mexico Court of Appeals’ reversal of the decision of the District Court so that this provision can shield McKenzie Johnson and other students who confront racism in public schools.

This case should not be viewed as an isolated incident. Rather, it is emblematic of the longstanding history of anti-Indianism and racism in U.S. education. This case is yet another example of the racist legacy of Indian boarding schools. To this day, our hair is still being chopped off by educators and settlers alike.

For Indigenous students to survive, for Indigenous People to survive, the education system needs an overhaul. Institutions tasked with educating our children, built on stolen and unceded territory, are obligated to serve the Indigenous communities on the lands they occupy.

The Red Nation stands with McKenzie Johnson, our comrade Demetrius Johnson, and the Johnson family. We ask that Indigenous People stand with not only McKenzie Johnson but all Indigenous students of present and past who have been harmed or taken by this ongoing legacy of anti-Indianism in U.S. education.


PACK THE COURT ROOM: Calling on all Native families, students, teachers, administrators, relatives, and APS community to attend the Supreme Court of the State of New Mexico hearing for McKenzie Johnson V. Board of Education for Albuquerque Public Schools and Mary Jane Easton.

Showing your support for McKenzie is crucial for shifting the violent climate that Native students face in public schools. Please follow courtroom etiquette, only small signs will be allowed inside, banners and bigger signs are welcome outside.

WATCH AND LISTEN: Albuquerque Public Schools did not want to listen to McKenzie Johnson, but you can on The Red Nation Podcast – McKenzie Johnson v. Legacies of Anti-Indianism in Education.

Believe Native women!

A sincere apology from Ms. Eastin to McKenzie Johnson and family.
End Anti-Indianism and racist violence in APS
Implementation of disciplinary measures and corrective protocol for racism and discrimination.
Installation of Native American history courses, with material and curriculum written and arranged by Native scholars and authors.
Native American history month initiatives that go beyond symbolic gestures and recognition.
APS adopts a land acknowledgment that takes concrete steps towards land back and acknowledges its role in ongoing colonization and occupation of stolen land.


Don’t touch my hair

Don’t Cut My Hair

My Hair is Sacred

Protect Indigenous Students



Not Your Bloody Indian!



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