Buncombe County(NC) Native American Intertribal Association
44 McKinnish Cove Rd.
Asheville, North Carolina 28806

News Release
For Immediate Release: Wednesday April 12, 2000

Contact: Don & Pat Merzlak 828-254-0010 Wicohan2@cs.com
Bruce Two Eagles 828-683-1889 BTwoeagles@aol.com
Visit our web page: www.main.nc.us/wncceib/

National Spotlight To Shine on Erwin Mascot Controversy

Local Indian leader to speak in Illinois & Ohio this weekend

The three year controversy over the use of Indian mascots and imagery at Erwin High School outside Asheville, North Carolina will be back in the national spotlight this weekend.

Bruce Two Eagles of the Buncombe County Native American Intertribal Association has been asked to speak at two national events at the University of Illinois in Champaign and at a Cleveland, Ohio event. In Champaign, the Trustees of the University of Illinois are having a public hearing on the ten year long controversy over the use of "Chief Illinewek." American Indian Charlene Teeters who has led the effort to eliminate "the Chief" spoke in Asheville in November of 1998.

In Cleveland, there will be a big demonstration and conference against the use of "Chief Wahoo" by the Cleveland Indians baseball team to coincide with the a home game there.

Two Eagles said Wednesday, the day before he left Asheville, that what has happened at Erwin has national implications. '"Getting rid of 'squaw' for the female athletes last year was significant nationally. For example, the Erwin change was used as a motivator in the recent successful effort by Indian legislators in Maine to persuade the legislature there to join Montana and other states in eliminating 'squaw' from public geographic name places."

"Beyond that success, the report about Erwin commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department written by Yale University professor Dr. Jace Weaver lays out why using Indian spirituality and symbols for sports teams is so offensive. That report is being used in similar controversies in scores of communities across the country," added Two Eagles.

"The message I am taking to Champaign and Cleveland is that the Buncombe County School Board agreed with the Justice Department to get rid of Indian imagery that is offensive, but they haven't done it," said Two Eagles. Two Eagles had hundreds of flyers to hand out that reproduced Dr. Weaver's report and called on people around the country to "Help Stop Racism In Buncombe County N.C. Public Schools."

The flyers show the 25' Indian statute at Erwin and a t-shirt design used by Erwin at its 1999 school field day. According to Two Eagles, the statue which dominates the scene as one approaches the school is "simply a modern, Indian version of the "lawn jockey" plantation mascot long ago discarded by society as disrespectful to African-Americans. " Two Eagles said the t-shirt "depicts a terrible caricature of an Indian that barely looks human."

According to Two Eagles, " If everything that is happening on the mascot issue across the nation was all being covered by the national media, it would look like the civil rights movement of the sixties. Not many people know, for example, that there was, just recently, a 37 day sit-in by American Indians at the University of Michigan over misuse of Indian imagery there. In Milton, Wisconsin last month, when the highschool changed from the Redmen to the Red Hawks, there was a beautiful transition ceremony where an artist made a statue of an Indian releasing a red hawk. We just hope the Buncombe County School Board will do the right thing and fulfill its obligation not only to the Justice Department but to the students, Indian and non-Indian, throughout the school system."

The Buncombe County Native American Intertribal Association is a non-profit organization made up of Indians from 19 tribes. It is not connected to the Eastern Band Cherokee though some Cherokee are part of the organization. More information on the Erwin controversy is available on the web site www.main.nc.us/wncceib/
Note: Attached are examples of flyers Two Eagles is taking to Champaign & Cleveland (Note: These will be added soon)
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