Native Americans Face Violence and Intimidation Over Mascot Removal in Carpinteria
The Carpinteria “Warriors” mascot is the standard Indian chief stereotype, complete with generic plains-style war bonnet and stoic gaze. The school logo consists of a spear with dangling feathers; a visual symbol also associated with plains Indian cultures. Last spring, 15 year old Chumash youth Eli Cordero voiced his objections to the use of this stereotypical imagery by Carpinteria High School. On April 22nd, 2008, he brought his concerns before the school board which then voted to retire the use of all Native American imagery.
Since the April 2008 decision, many citizens of Carpinteria have waged a campaign of terror against those who supported the school board’s decision, as well as the school board itself. A local businessman placed a quarter-page ad in the local newspaper explicitly naming and targeting Eli Cordero, the young student who originally brought the issue to the school board. Since that time, the 15 year old has received death threats and his family has been harassed. Some citizens of Carpinteria shouted racial epithets at John Orendorff, a Native American Army Reserve colonel who spoke at a school board meeting in favor of removing the racist imagery.
Some Native American people have moved out of Carpinteria due to the climate of fear and anti-Indian sentiment. Ashleigh Brown, until recently a resident of Carpinteria, spoke of her decision to move away, “There is a community member who refused to do our printing for our cultural awareness event. Her son…started telling my roommate to keep my nose out of Carpinteria issues, or else I might regret it…So after other townspeople found out where I lived I decided to move out of Carpinteria.”
A student member of the Chumash tribe complained last year that the mascot perpetuates stereotypes and offensive to Native Americans.
The district's 15-member Native American Imagery Committee met for the final time Tuesday night and recommended the change, as well as urging removal of a 10-foot mural of a Native American and a bird.
So we have intimidation, racial epithets, and death threats. Thanks once again, mascot lovers, for showing us how you "respect" and "honor" Indians. Could you be any more hypocritical if you tried?
For more on the subject, see Team Names and Logos.