October 04, 2009

Barnhill speech at "Next Dance"

Here's more on the "educational" component of the "Next Dance" clown fest:

Students plan Chief's next dance as yearly event

By Ryan YoungThe keynote speaker, Barnhill, spoke not about the Chief, but of Kickapoo State Park and encouraged everyone to go and experience Native American culture firsthand. The event was hosted, in part, to gather donations for the renewal and renovation of Kickapoo National Park.

"I, too, am fighting for a tradition," Barnhill said.

Before and after speaking at the Next Dance, Barnhill joined the group protesting the event outside Assembly Hall.

"Something is wrong when children don't know that Native Americans still exist," he said.
Comment:  Sounds like Barnhill's appearance was a mixed bag at best. On the one hand, he exhorted people to visit Kickapoo State Park and learn about Indians. And he joined the protest afterward. On the other hand, he didn't denounce Chief Illiniwek when he had the chance. It's not clear he actually told the audience anything about Indians. (Asking them to educate themselves isn't the same as educating them.)

Perhaps the biggest problem was his mere presence. As the token "Indian," he lent legitimacy to the event. That might've been okay if he had chastised the audience about the stereotypical Chief...but he didn't.

So the audience watched phony Chiefs 90% of the time and heard Barnhill exhort them 10% of the time. Nobody said anything negative about the Chief. Did Barnhill really serve the cause of education? Or did he merely allow the organizers to say, "See, we had an Indian talk about education. That proves we care about today's Indians. We're legitimate Native supporters so stop criticizing us"? Or worse, "We're legitimate Native supporters so bring back the Chief"?

For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.

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