If one happened to be in Champagne/Urbana, Illinois before a big sporting event, in order to laud their mascot, Chief Illiniwek, a white boy dressed up in Native attire, one could see images of bleary-eyed, drunken Indians painted on the windows of the downtown bars. On sale in the local markets and drugstores, one could purchase rolls of toilet paper with images of Indians imprinted on every sheet.
One year, before a big football game between the Minnesota Gophers and the University of Illinois Fighting Illini, stuffed Indian dummies could be seen with ropes around their necks hanging from buildings and trees on the Minnesota campus.
Now any Indian or white that finds the things I have written above as “honoring” American Indians holds a very different view of what the word “honor” holds for the majority of Native Americans.
I cannot end this piece without referring to the Sunday a few years ago when the fans of the Washington professional football team (I will not use the “R” word here), painted a pig red, placed a feathered bonnet on its head, and then chased it around the football field at halftime. If they had painted a pig black and placed an Afro wig on its head and chased it around the football field at halftime, how many African Americans would have considered that an “honor?”