“This is a derogatory term for Indians that sticks out like an anomaly,” said Mause today. “No other group still has to deal with this kind of a term being used” in such a public and widespread way.
Harjo: Get educated
Harry: Don't you think that this is a pretty petty thing to be nagging about? Aren't there bigger issues out there in the world today than name-calling?
Suzan Shown Harjo: Most of the people who ask that question don't do anything about our big issues. The Native American parties to our lawsuit are the ones who are doing something about the big issues, and this is one of them, because it is contextual, atmospheric--it affects federal Indian law because, for one thing, policymakers don't make good policy for cartoons or for people who are used for others' sport.
R-Skin Fan: Are you drunk???
Suzan Shown Harjo: As a political and health decision, I don't drink at all. Alcohol is a powerful medicine that weakens natural healing medicines, so it's not a good idea to mix medicines. Thank you for asking.
JJ: Ever think that instead of promoting equality, this fight of yours will sour people about Indians. People may think that Indians are kind of stupid for trying to change a mascot's name.
Suzan Shown Harjo: The thoughts of those who could be soured over a bid for justice are of little interest to me--what are they going to do? Get mad and take away the western hemisphere?
Harry: I am first to agree that what has happened to the Indians by the Americans was a horrible thing, and it shouldn't be looked over. However, how long are you going to play that trump card? Eventually, you need to move on as a group and realize that things are never going to revert back to the olden days. Eventually you are going to have to take responsibility for yourself and stop pulling out that same card.
Suzan Shown Harjo: We aren't trying to go back to a bygone era. We seek justice in our own time and in comparison to all the other human beings of our time.
Noah Hurwitz: I'm alarmed at the number of offensive remarks that people have made during this chat. Why is it that there is so little respect given to Native Americans?
Suzan Shown Harjo: That's one of the problems with dehumanizing, objectifying images, names, behaviors--promotion of disrespect.
Scott: Don't you think this is petty? If Native Americans have health problems and all suffer all the other ills of our society, wouldn't you be better serving your people by concentrating your effort on these issues and not what a football team writes on their jersey? Don't you think your priorities are a little out of whack?
Suzan Shown Harjo: I and other Native American parties to our lawsuit have worked very hard to achieve the American Indian Health Care Improvement Act and to gain clinics and hospitals in Indian country. What have you done to help our health conditions?
Hawkeye: Are there some instances where Native American-inspired mascots are appropriate?
Suzan Shown Harjo: Nope.
James Jones: I pay taxes!
Suzan Shown Harjo: So do I. So what?
8thKickapoo: Don't you think if a team were the Casper Skinned White Devils some people would take offense?
Suzan Shown Harjo: You see, part of the perception problem for many white folks looking at this issue is that there is no equivalent pejorative for all white people that's anywhere near the same as the r-word for Native Peoples or the n-word for African Americans.
Skins fan: I have a lot of sympathy for the injustices your people have faced. I have a family member who is a Native American that was adopted. But I also feel that the nicknames of teams such as the Braves, Seminoles, and even the Redskins were meant to honor your people and not to disgrace them.
Suzan Shown Harjo: Even if that were the case (and I respectfully disagree with that view), they are not considered honorifics today by the vast majority of Native Americans. And, even if it were the case that one team meant well by it, it still would be the job of the other side to mock the image, name, traits of their opponents. The very nature of the context makes it preferable to just make the change and move on. My guess is that the Republic will still stand.
A. Anthoney Allen: The arrogance and insensitivity of some white people never ceases to amaze me. If sports teams and mascots are not called the crackers, the chinks, the wops, the spicks, the kikes or the niggers, then how can anyone feel the term Redskin is not offensive? Removing these offensive names would be an excellent way for this country to start the new millenium. It's not ironic that the Washington Redskins are a team in our Nation's capital. After all, this country was founded on the skins of Red people. It's as simple as that!
Suzan Shown Harjo: Take heart. These Native references in sports are going the way of the lawn jockeys.
It's the same fear and loathing we see directed toward Obama. The same lack of rational engagement on the issues. We're white and you're not, so we demand the right to make you our mascot. And we're mad as hell that you're trying to limit our white privilege.
Anyway, Harjo kicked the butts of mascot supporters. I'd love to see her debate the proponents of Redskin magazine. She'd kick their butts too.
For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.