February 25, 2008

Early mascot victories

Chief OffendersOnce upon a campus, the University of Oklahoma, known in sports circles as Big Red, had a mascot, Little Red. Garishly clad white boys revved up the crowd with "war chants" and "Indian dances"--mainly woo-woo-woo yells and acrobatic leaps--g-stringed OU breechcloth flapping in the breeze.

Big Red fans loved Little Red. Native students loathed him. They demanded that OU banish "the war-whooping idiot who misrepresents American Indians."
What happened:In 1970, after a Native sit-in at the president's office, the school's human relations committee called for the "total abolishment of Little Red....Perhaps for the first time since statehood, Oklahomans have the proposition forcefully thrown up to them that being Indian is being a certain kind of human being and not an object of entertainment."

Little Red was history.
More victories:Encouraged by the victory in the heartland, Native students in the East and West stepped up their efforts to end stereotyping in sports. The 42-year-old Indians were traded for the Cardinal at Stanford University in northern California and joined the ranks of Little Red in 1973. Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire, ended the half-century run of the Indian in 1974, for Big Green.

Syracuse University's symbol was the next to fall. It began as a joke in 1931, when a student rag described the unearthing of fictitious artifacts, including a "portrait of an early Onondaga chief, O-gee-ke-da Ho-achen-ga-da, the saltine warrior Big Chief Bill Orange."

Citizens of Onondaga Nation, six miles away, were not amused by the hoax, but the school embraced the Saltine Warrior.

"There was the Army mule, Navy goat, Georgia bulldog and Syracuse Indian," said Oren Lyons, an Onondaga faithkeeper who played lacrosse under the Saltine Warrior emblem. "We were subhumans in sports." Syracuse consigned its 45-year-old symbol to the archives in 1975. In its place they chose to honor a fruit and school color, the Orange.
Another victory:St. Bonaventure University is in upstate New York, not far from Seneca Nation. For most of its athletics history, men were the Brown Indian and women the Brown Squaw. In 1975, Seneca clanmothers and a chief informed the players and faculty that "squaw" meant "vagina" in certain Iroquoian and Algonquian languages. Brown Squaw was retired, quickly and quietly.

Twenty years later, Brown Indian was swapped for Bonafanatic.
Comment:  Apparently the Little Red mascot is so embarrassing that no one has posted a picture of it on the billions of pages indexed by Google.

FYI, my father was a Stanford Indian before the team nickname became the Stanford Cardinal. Amazingly, the change caused him no harm whatsoever.

For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.

Pictured below:  The Dartmouth Indian.

7 comments:

dmarks said...

Is Bonafanatic the Martian oilcan?

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Talk about revisionist ahistorical events! First, white students wearing flapping breechcloths and giving out with war chants IS WHAT HAPPENS NOW, in the 21st Century, not back in 1970. The Oklahoma University official mascot, Little Red, always was a Native fancy dancer and even occupied his own office on the OU campus. No Native students opposed Little Red until members of the American Indian Movement came to Norman, OK, in 1970, looking to publicize their own agenda that later would include insurrection, sedition, and other forms of uncivil disobedience that contributed mightily to the delinquency of a minority.
The last Native to occupy the Little Red office at OU was Randy Palmer, a Kiowa second cousin to writerfella. Randy at the time was an authentic Native Champion War Dancer, having won many competitive titles at dozens of national Native festivals and gatherings. The office and title included a salary and financial aid package, along with great respect from the entire student body, Native students and faculty included. But the protests and the inflammatory rhetoric from those who likely could not have enrolled and succeeded at OU themselves, served to muddy the waters enough that the decision came down to eliminate the office entirely. What was their central complaint? That the Little Red mascot "danced to the white man's drum," which was false because the drummer on the field sidelines was Randy's father, Dixon Palmer, who was one of the founders of the modern Kiowa BlackLeggings Warrior Society. But after that, there was no more Little Red, no more office, or salary, or financial aid package, or the accompanying respect. Eventually Randy left OU altogether, enlisting in the US Army.
And the members of AIM celebrated on the OU campus with vast amounts of beer and whiskey and drugs, finally going elsewhere while leaving OU Native students adrift and bereft. How does writerfella know all this? BECAUSE HE WAS THERE AS A STUDENT RIGHT WHEN IT ALL CAME DOWN!
writerfella did what he could but failed. However, writerfella made it his business NOT TO FAIL in such pursuits against AIM ever again.
writerfella did not attend AIM's celebrations but they truly sounded just like Rob's speed, partying like it was 1899...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Another of your longwinded responses, Russ?

What a surprise that you shared your OU anecdote for the third or fourth time...not.

Actually, it was as predictable as the sunrise. Too bad we're still waiting for anything resembling documentation of your claims.

Your claim that Randy Palmer was the last official Little Red doesn't necessarily contradict anything in the article. For all we know, this reference

Garishly clad white boys revved up the crowd with "war chants" and "Indian dances"--mainly woo-woo-woo yells and acrobatic leaps-g-stringed OU breechcloth flapping in the breeze.

was to people who acted unofficially as mascots while Palmer acted officially. That's why we need unbiased evidence--not biased anecdotes--to judge the situation.

P.S. I don't use alcohol or drugs. Can you say the same?

Rob said...

I believe the "oil can" is a representation of Big Green, the abstraction Dartmouth chose to replace its "Indians" mascot.

russell said...

Writerfella here --
Except, that writerfella's response directly was in accordance with your inapt and ahistorical posting. So many postings on this blog so quickly become relegated to the 'archive' that you as the blogmaster may iterate and reiterate the exact same information over and over, but the responses to such get lost from falling into storage. However, examine each of writerfella's posts in response to such matters and easily it will be seen that they are not written exactly the same...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Again, Russ, learn to read. I didn't say your posting wasn't "in accordance" with mine. I said you didn't document your claims.

Now that I've explained your shortcoming, why don't you rectify it? Again, let's see some evidence to support your claims. Otherwise, we'll continue to dismiss your anecdote as a biased reading of the situation if not an outright lie.

Rob said...

Apparently "exact same" is another term you don't understand. It means literally using the same words, not generally offering the same arguments. Duh.

It's a funny charge considering how often you regale us with the same anecdotes. I could practically write your biography with all the information you've shared. Judging by your postings, you must think this is the Russell Bates Appreciation Blog.

So you've charged me with doing what you usually do. Hysterical, and hypocritical. Pot calls kettle black...film at 11.

Is this your new gambit to besmirch my integrity? You know, in your campaign of constant sniping? Against your intellectual superiors, to whom you can't hold a candle?

I guess this approach is better than your bald-faced lies. But it's arguably just as stupid. Readers know I'm not posting the "exact same" thing every time. You're only making yourself look foolish, as usual.

If you imbibed too much and are seeing "double," here's a solution. Don't respond the second time I post the "exact same" thing. In fact, feel free to leave altogether. If I'm literally repeating myself, you have no reason to stay.

As for your complaints about the archives, the postings and comments are still there. As I've told you repeatedly. If you're too dumb to access them, that's your problem, not mine. Stop whining and learn how to navigate the Web.