Honor or Disrespect to the American Indian
Often times you hear about sport teams like the Cleveland Indians or the Washington Redskins, the Braves, or the other teams with Indian names, nicknames, and mascots. The names of the teams are a lot more important to the American Indian culture than what most people think and the mascots are insulting to the American Indian people. Somehow the sport society has forgotten about them and because we see them as people of the past and we have managed to be insensitive to their culture and heritage. It should be forbidden for all teams to use Indian mascots, logos and nicknames because of how people of their heritage perceive it.
The arguments to keep these names are usually, “it is a part of history” “or “it’s an honor”. The names are a part of history, but the teams are not nor are the sports or the mascot. Touchdowns home runs and goals have nothing to do with American Indians or their culture. There is no honor found in an imposter American Indian in war paint on the center field or on someone’s jersey. Who wants to see their great great-great-grandfather who had his land taken from him, forced from his home, and most of his people killed off, and then had his face on someone’s shirt, because it is honorable? Then to listens to people refer to his team (because he is the mascot) which also refers to the American Indians by the slang/slur names: Redskins, Savages, Braves, most of the team names that refer to them are slang/slur are considered racist yet we still use them.
To name a team after another ethnicity today is unimaginable but since American Indians are thought of a people of the past it’s okay. This is degrading to the Indigenous people because they are so forgotten and so excluded because of how popular culture has portrayed them. Valadez has a very good point in this quote this is exactly how the American Indians feel, “I thought about the idea of having a football team named the El Paso Mexicans. At first I was excited about the idea, but then I asked myself: what if there are no Mexicans in the team?” Just like the Cleveland Indians, which not all the people on that team are American Indians makes it odd that these people are titling themselves as Indians? It is like the people that carry empty guitar cases for the fashion of it. It is just weird. I guess it would be odder if they dressed up like them though. Oh wait they do.
Just as it is weird that people are on teams call the Indians and aren’t exactly American Indian. It is also weird that people dress up as American Indians as well. “Some well recognized universities in the United States, the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign and the Florida State University Seminoles, use Indian mascots. In fact, they have students dress up as the Indian mascot and perform during the games which have become a tradition at these schools.”(Valadez). It is already strange that people name a team after an ethnicity and then they don’t have any or have very few people of that ethnicity that play on it, and now they have people that dress up like and portray it. Just as strange as it is to see a white girl dress as a geisha for Halloween wouldn’t it is strange to see a non-American Indian dress up as one and attempt to do a dance. The American Indian culture is very intricate. Every bead has a meaning every design on the costume has a story. Every feather has a very powerful meaning because the eagle feathers are so sacred. It is incredibly disrespectful to see someone dress up and pretend to be what they aren’t if they knows nothing about the culture or heritage.
The mascots are the biggest problem being that the majority of the schools in America use animals as mascots. Then there are the schools that use the Indians as mascots. It is literally putting the Indigenous people, a race of human beings, at the same level as animals and bugs. Not only is the mascot hurtful to the people of that race but it also is demoralizing to the people of that religion. Sherman Alexie makes a point in his interview, “Think about it in terms of religion. Those are our religious imagery up there. Feather, the paint, the sun that’s our religious imagery. You couldn’t have a Catholic priest running around the floor with a basketball throwing communion wafers. You couldn’t have a rabbi running around.”(Valadez). Alexie’s point in the interview by Valadez was people wouldn’t have a catholic priest as their mascot running around in a game; they just wouldn’t because it is wrong. So again the question is why are American Indians any different? Probably because people have forgotten about the Indians they are thought of as the past.
American Indians are people of the present and they are not meant to be mascots. Just as we wouldn’t use a guy named Bill who is Caucasian to be a mascot or a catholic priest as a mascot we shouldn’t use an Indian either because America needs to be more racially sensitive and religiously sensitive to the American Indians. Since it offends people that should be enough for American Indian names logos or mascots to be forbidden to be used in America, because the Indigenous people deserve our respect and need to be known as people who are still here in the American society.
“Native American Mascots Used by Professional Sports Teams and Schools”
(with Images) · Luis Valadez.” Storify. N.p., n.d. Web. 30 Mar. 2016.
“The Toughest Indian In The World.” CBS News. CBS Interactive, 19 Jan.
- Web. 30 Mar. 2016.