April 21, 2009

Indian mascot painter opposes "Indians"

Saugatuck community forum divided over whether 'Indians' is appropriate mascot for local schoolsJohn Fox, the American Indian student who painted the Saugatuck Indian mascot in the high school's gym in 1970, said he wouldn't recreate his artwork today. He was among those who spoke at Monday's community forum to address whether the Saugatuck school's mascot should be changed.

"Indian team mascots create a tension between our cultures. Native American's don't want to be your mascots," said Fox, now a 52-year-old Saugatuck artist. "When I painted the mural, I didn't know my culture very well and didn't understand that it was offensive."

Fox said those who claim that Indian mascots and names honor his heritage are wrong.

"We wouldn't go and name a sports team the 'Fighting Jews' to honor them. There would be a firestorm over that," he said.
Comment:  I'm guessing a lot of Indians are in Fox's position. They don't know their culture well, or if they do, they haven't thought about the mascot issue much. When they do think about it, as Fox has, they realize mascots are wrong.

Below:  The Saugatuck Indians' mascot, a stereotypical chief.

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