The subject matter was heavy one late April day in James Jacobs' "Social Perspectives, Human Worth, and Social Action" class at Bethel University in St. Paul.
Instructor Jacobs, a Native American, and adjunct professor Tricia Fenrick were having their students watch the movie "Dakota 38," which tells the story of the largest one-day execution in U.S. history, when Dakota Sioux were hanged after the U.S.-Dakota War.
As first reported Bethel Clarion student newspaper, the class took a break after watching the film. Once the class reconvened, Cody Albrecht, an Illinois native, had put on a Chicago Blackhawks sweatshirt.
The NHL team's name originated with Frederic McLaughlin, who founded the franchise. McLaughlin named his team after the Blackhawk division, an Army unit in World War I, which claimed a a 19th century Sauk and Fox Native American leader as its namesake.
More recently, the name and logo of the Blackhawks has been spotlighted as demeaning and offensive to Native Americans.
According to the Clarion, Albrecht, after realizing the discomfort he created by wearing the sweatshirt, offered to turn it inside out.
Jacobs, the professor, took his displeasure with Albrecht's wardrobe change public.
"So your college professor is a Native American," Jacobs wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post. "A Native American who has spoken multiple times about the offensiveness of Indian mascots. Yet you come to class with an Indian mascot sprawled across your chest… Bold move sir."
By the following week Jacobs had changed his tune, updating friends with news that Albrecht had extended an apology. Jacobs also wrote he hadn't expected his original post to get as much attention as it had, writing similar experiences had been "minimized" at other institutions he's worked for.
Wrote Jacobs: “I’m glad to say that this became an incredible learning opportunity for the student we had a lengthy conversation about it and the student really listened to why those images are offensive and hurtful.”
Since the Clarion reported on the campus mini-controversy, the story has been picked up by numerous conservative websites -- including the Daily Caller, Breitbart.com, and TheBlaze -- which, predictably, depicted the incident as evidence of political correctness run amok.
In his follow-up Facebook writing, Jacobs said Albrecht had been the recipient of "strong" and "discouraging messages," and asked that people put a stop to it. Jacobs said his student had "truly matured and we have taken big steps in the reconciliation process."
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