January 08, 2009

No Marching Chiefs at inaugural?

Wyandotte band won't be 'Chiefs' at Obama's inaugurationWyandotte's Roosevelt High School marching band, known as the Marching Chiefs since the 1950s, will drop the American Indian moniker on Jan. 20.

When they perform at President-elect Barack Obama's inaugural parade, the band members, the only high school musicians from Michigan playing, will be called the Roosevelt High School Marching Band. Patches will be sewn over the Indian logos on the band uniform sleeves and the band's Marching Chiefs banner will be retired for the day.

The band is covering up for the day in response to a letter from Harvey Gunderson, president of Religious Americans Against Indian Nicknames and Logos, who protested the nickname of The Chiefs.

"We just don't want to bring any negative publicity," said Mark D'Angelo, the band's director.
Comment:  What this story says about the mascot issue is interesting. To me it says that deep down, the school knows its mascot is wrong. It's not willing to face public scorn at a nationally televised event.

But in its own community, things are presumably different. There all the non-Indians convince themselves that they're "honoring" Indians. And that anyone protesting their stereotypical mascot is just being politically correct.

If this scenario is true, these people are hypocrites. They'll mock-honor Indians in the safety of their own schoolground but nowhere else. If they genuinely believed in what they were doing, they wouldn't hesitate to proclaim their respect for Indians to the world.

For more on the subject, see The 2008 Presidential Campaign.

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