August 16, 2008

Cowboys catch an "Injun"

Teen from Inland tribe accuses deputies of making racist comments while detaining himThe Riverside County Sheriff's Department confirmed Thursday it is investigating allegations of racial harassment by some of its deputies against a teenager from an Inland tribe.

Michael Malone, 19, accused deputies of pointing a Taser at him and making racist remarks during a recent encounter in the Temecula area.

Malone, who identified himself as a member of the Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians, said he believes the deputies detained him because he's American Indian.

It's unclear why deputies stopped Malone.

The deputies said, "Yee-haw, boys, we caught us an Injun," Malone recounted during a meeting of tribal leaders this week in San Jacinto.

Malone said the deputies indicated they thought he was a member of the Soboba Band of LuiseƱo Indians, which has been locked in a dispute with the Sheriff's Department.
Comment:  Apparently the cowboys 'n' Indians mentality is alive and well.

Do I need to explain the connection between this and the mascot and stereotyping issues I often raise? Okay, I will. Mascots and other Native stereotypes let us view Indians as the "other." In that mindset, "we" means white Christian Americans. "They" means the dark-skinned people who wear odd headdresses, paint their faces, and worship rocks and trees. We tolerate them, unless they break the law or simply look funny, but we don't embrace them. We don't accept that they're as American as we are.

Mascots and other Native stereotypes are a primary cause of this lack of understanding and empathy. If we don't believe Indians are normal human beings, we can't relate to them. That leads us to treat them as if they're stray animals who wandered out of the corral (i.e., off the reservation).

Below:  Another "cowboy" finds a stray "Injun."

5 comments:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Both EuroMan's racism and its 'cowboys 'n indians' mentality long have pre-existed mascots and stereotyping. Thus, the latter two subtopics are symptoms and not the disease...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Wrong. Columbus began stereotyping Indians in his first journal entries. These entries predated cowboys (and therefore the "cowboys 'n' Indians" mentality) by two or three centuries.

Moreover, racism itself began with Columbus. Before then, people were prejudiced against strangers and others, but not because of their race. Read all about it in When Did Racism Begin?

So the racism against and stereotyping of Natives began at the same time. Which is obvious if you think about it. One doesn't cause the other; they feed off each other.

But what if racism had come first? It's unquestionable that stereotyping has enormously exacerbated the problem. If racism is the disease, stereotyping is a correlated disease that has made the patient worse.

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
Wow, everybody! Write that one down quick! Rob just said that Cristobal Colon was a cowboy! Of course and we all missed it! Clint Eastwood could have played the Genovese sailor in Ridley Scott's 1492: CONQUEST OF PARADISE instead of Gerard Depardieu!! OMG...
All Best
Russ Bates
'writerfella'

Rob said...

Learn to read, doofus. I didn't say anything about Columbus's being a cowboy.

You said "EuroMan's racism and its 'cowboys 'n indians' mentality" predated stereotyping. I explained why you were wrong, as you so often are.

nobody said...

I know this blog entry is a bit old, but I just add to add that the kind of racist verbal abuse by white police officers to american indians described in this article is so common in oklahoma that most people don't even talk about it. I grew up hearing stuff like that from cops all the time. When I go back home for visits, I still do. Not isolated cases, not once in a while, not a "bad apple" scenario. Its pervasive, all the time, everyday, more often than not, seriously just ask any indian in oklahoma(and likely new mexico and south dakota...etc)

Its so common that I can't imagine that this would have made the news if it weren't for all the troubles at the soboba rez this past year.

--gazelbe