School officials put a moratorium on the chop in the fall in deference to American Indians who may find it offensive. However, students, alumni and townspeople have called for the gesture and its accompanying band music to be reinstituted.
Whether the defenders realize it or not, this is an extension of the white privilege exercised by the American majority. We wanted the Indians' land, so we took it. We wanted to maintain our power, so we passed Jim Crow laws. We want to maintain our wealth, so we pass tax cuts for the rich.
When the trappings of white privilege start disappearing--when we actually start acting as if everyone is created equal--these people hold on to the vestiges of their power. They've lost their segregated schools and exclusive old-boys' clubs. They see brown faces everywhere: in concerts, on TV, even in the White House. So they cling desperately to the last symbols of their racial dominance, including the tomahawk chop.
For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.
Below: A related image. "White men civilized, Indian braves savage."