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Mascots are Ďat best inaccurate, at worst a mockeryí
By Lawrence Sampson

Posted: Mar 13

Mascots are not offensive. They canít be. They simplycannot be. After all, Joseph Martin says so. Those of us that have seen the effects of this racism, are all suffering from some form of mass delusion. Those that have dealt with this issue intimately, and personally, must have some altered sense of reality. The Commission on Indian affairs? Morons. The US Patent and Trademark Office? Simpletons. The NAACP, and the American Jewish Committee? All led astray. That every single Indian organization with a national scope, has erroneously denounced the racist stereotyping of Indian people, is further evidence that something is terribly wrong in Indian country. Perhaps weíve all contracted mad-cow disease, I donít know. But it sure is scary, and I, for one, and thankful we have the likes of Mr. Martin here to set us all straight.

Iím always interested to take up this conversation with Europeans, "fresh off the boat" so to speak.

It seems they are unanimously amazed that this situation exists at all. You see, itís illegal in Europe to publicly misrepresent an ethnic group, with any charicatures-an outgrowth of the Nuremburg trials, after World War II. Seems a particular group over there had this nasty habit of fomenting genocide with racist imagery, perhaps youíve read about it.

I know Mr. Martin hates to hear about it, however, I must digress.

That Indian youth have a stratospheric dropout rate, coupled with the usual accompaniment of alcoholism, and drug addiction rates, and the obligatory suicide rate, is well known. That these facts are related to few role models, and poor self-image, is also a no-brainer.

From this point, itís not a really big leap, to see that Indian mascots are harmful to Indian youth. At the very least, stereotypes do nothing positive. Itís not rocket science. Recent reports from the psychology department at the University of Illinois echo this sentiment. Are they wrong too? And I wonít go into all the specifics of the Weaver report, documenting the numerous ills, yet ANOTHER misguided soul reported. Even CNO chief Chad Smith, another confused Indian, states "At best, these mascots are inaccurate, at worst they are a mockery."

I know, I know, other, somewhat prominent "Indians", have said the mascots are essentially a non-issue, that no harm comes from them. I would offer that every ethnic group has those in its ranks that adopt a foreign outlook. (see Ben "Nighthorse" Campbell, Congressman) Enough said.

If the mascots donít affect Mr. Martin, or his family, Iím happy for him, and all the others who goose-step to his lingo. It seems to me, however, that the mindset of "If it doesnít bother me, then it doesnít bother anyone" is a dangerous one.

Certainly of more concern than "Politically Correct" folks who advocate retiring these mascots. I am also aware of some reservation-based schools who also use Indian mascots. But, Iíve yet to see Indian people wearing face paint, or feathers at a sporting event, or with signs saying "SCALP THE REDSKINS." Itís not acceptable in our society, but the average American doesnít know this. These are the things that happen on the periphery, even if an honest attempt has been made, to have "respectful" Indian mascots.

These are the things that cannot be controlled.

And in any event, Indians behaving poorly wouldnít make it right.

I mean after all, whoda thunk any self respecting Indians would have a Redskin motel on their reservation? "Findings by the so-called experts are immaterial", says our friend Mr. Martin. Itís true, we are really lucky to have such a shepherd to show us the way.

Lawrence Sampson is Delaware and Eastern Band Cherokee. He lives in Texas.

To read Joseph Martin's column

Back to Mascot Index Page

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