Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Use Native American Mascots for Positive Influence

Regarding the native American mascot issue, I think many in the native American community are taking the wrong approach. Certainly, I agree that the more pejorative terms such as "Redskins" and "Redmen" as well as the goofy caricatures should be retired for good. These do belittle and demean native Americans. (Actually, I kind of think they serve to demean all of us, but I digress.)

However, I do believe that the more honorable names and tribal designations have a lot of value - and could provide native Americans with a wonderful opportunity to keep their tribes top-of-mind among many Americans. In fact, why don't they work WITH the universities and teams to use their names to educate others about native American history and issues? If we simply eliminate their tribal references from our everyday life, which is exactly what would happen, then they cease to have relevance at all. That would be terrible.

Especially with the colleges and universities, it's a perfect opportunity to promote education, scholarship and charitable giving to benefit the native American population. Certainly, universities such as Florida State and Utah have taken the time and effort to engage and gain the support of the Seminole and Ute tribes, respectively. Others should do the same. If not for these universities' nicknames, would most of us have any awareness of the Seminole or Ute tribes? Probably not.

Although I am not a native American, one would think that they would not want to completely wipe out virtually any daily reference to their tribes. They should use it as an opportunity to PROMOTE rather than hide their vast, rich heritage.

As a side note, I went to a high school in California whose nickname was - alternately - the Scots, the Highlanders or the Clan (with a C, you'll note). The mascot was a Scottish bagpiper. As a first-generation American of Scottish descent, I wasn't humiliated or ashamed of the association. On the contrary, I took pride in it and viewed it as a celebration of my heritage, not a derision of it. Hopefully, native Americans can do the same with nicknames and mascots that portray their heritage in a positive light.

That's my two cents on the issue, anyway.


Post a Comment

<< Home