Now here's my rebuttal to Braithwaite's e-mail. In part 1, let's look at Braithwaite's claims about how much support exists for the Carpinteria Warriors.
Quantifying the support
Braithwaite's primary argument is that 1) Natives have a right to decide for themselves what's offensive and 2) most of Carpinteria's Natives support the Warrior mascot. Braithwaite hits on this point again and again:
If some one Native states the imagery is racist why do I not take their word for it? Two reasons: they have made no compelling case and other Native Americans simply disagree with you. Should I take your word for it or theirs? Now I believe there can certainly be depictions of racist imagery, but ours does not fall into that category--again, as many Native Americans attest. It has nothing to do with white privilege. It has to do with listening to Native Americans who disagree with you.
"Is offensive to (some) Native Americans." Some. Is not offensive to others--to the vast majority of those who actually live in the community. Yes, only you can define yourselves. The vast majority of Carpinterian Native Americans have defined themselves perhaps differently than you.
Note his slightly shifting terms:
Well, which is it? Native Americans in general, Carpinterian Native Americans, or Carpinterian Native American children past and present? These are three different categories of people.
If Braithwaite knows what Natives think about Indian mascots in general, he hasn't shown any evidence of it. And how would he know what Native children "throughout Carpinteria's history" thought and think? I suspect these claims are just hot air with no basis in fact.
As for Natives in Carpinteria today, how many are there? How many are enrolled Indians in federally recognized tribes? How many come from local tribes and how many from elsewhere? How many are Latinos who claim a bit of Indian blood and want to honor the "warriors" among their ancestors?
Survey, Shirley, or...?
Really, did Carpinteria or Braithwaite do a survey of the town's Natives? If so, Scott, give us the total number of respondents and the breakdown for and against the mascot. Identify and quote some of these pro-mascot Natives if you can. Give us anything to prove you didn't make up your claims about what Natives think.
Tellingly, in one of his e-mails, Braithwaite cited Joe Shirley, president of the Navajo Nation, as a mascot supporter. People quickly and rightly ridiculed this claim.
First, Shirley didn't express an opinion about the Carpinteria Warriors. It's extremely unlikely he'd know or care about a high school in another state. Second, Shirley hasn't taken much of a stance on Indian mascots in general. Here are the only references I could find about his position:
NCAA Bans Indian Mascots
Not Everyone Happy With NCAA Mascot Ruling!
“I wonder, though, why this anti-defamation applies only to tournaments. Why does the NCAA not forbid the practice at all games. Is the NCAA saying that members can’t be racist at tournaments but can be at all other games?
“I agree with Navajo President, Joe Shirley, that the current practice is offensive. It steals the pride and self-respect from the Native American people. It is an extension of what is found I too many U.S. history textbooks.”
I believe Braithwaite admitted that he read something about Shirley on the Internet. I hope his claims about what Natives believe are a lot more substantial than that. But I'm betting they're not. I'm betting he found a few pro-mascot Indians on the Internet...heard a few brown-skinned people support the Warriors in person...and decided these few Indians represented "the vast majority."
For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.
Below: Another big bust: a Plains Chief representing California "warriors."