October 31, 2010

Student "tribe" shows team spirit

Students dispute admin over 'tribal' spirit group

By Kelsey KnorpIt was just beginning to get dark. Feather headdresses adorned every head. Bodies were painted in all manner of patterns and colors, and deafening chants to the steady beat of drums could be heard across campus.

Though the Granite Bay High School Grizzlies were taking the Reed Raiders by storm out on the field, the action in the stands was drawing the most attention at this Aug. 27 home game, which served as an introduction to the “Tribe,” a group of GBHS students who came together under a Native American theme to support their team.

Many of these students attended a tailgate gathering preceding the game, where they painted their bodies and prepared props and chants that were sure to intimidate the opposing team. Credit is given to GBHS senior Grant Dechert for inspiring this spirit phenomenon.

Senior and tribe member Chris Denham said, his "chief," Grant 'Brutus Dechert, sent their "tribe" a message “to notify us that we needed to prepare to go to battle (and defend) the pride of our team.”

Though the original “battle” may have been in defense of Grizzly pride, the tribe also aroused staff and students on campus who considered their actions insulting to Native Americans.

The administration reacted swiftly, ruling students could not wear Indian headdresses and had to change the name of the "tribe" but could continue to wear paint.

“We have Native American students on campus,” English teacher Katrina Wachs said. “I just wonder if anyone has asked them how they feel about it.”

Wachs worries the portrayal of Native Americans through the wearing of headdresses and wild behavior has the connotation of savagery, and wonders about the possibility of Native American descendants taking offense to this.

“It’s kind of like kicking them when they’re down,” she said. “Like, we’ve killed (them), colonized (them) and now we’re going to dress up like (them) and act like savages?”
The stereotyping students offered the usual rationalizations for their minstrel-like behavior:Tribe participants have been cooperative, but their disappointment is evident.

“It’s disheartening,” Denham said. “We’ll still cheer, but our morale has been taken down a few notches.”

Members of the tribe also insist that nothing derogatory was meant by their portrayal of Native Americans.

“My friends and I have never tried to portray Native Americans in a negative way,” Dechert said.

Though he has acquiesced to the wishes of the administration, Dechert feels his constitutional rights have been violated.

“I am saddened that (Native Americans) of old cannot be celebrated by our imitations and costumes,” he said. “I didn’t realize this form of censorship was legal in the United States of America.”
Comment:  Well, boo-hoo! The school interfered with the students' constitutional right to act like racists and demean an entire ethnic group. How horrible.

Dechert tries the magical power of intent to excuse himself. He didn't realize he was acting like generations of idiots who think Indians are nothing more than a pack of howling (were)wolves. Therefore, he did nothing wrong.

The core of Dechert's stupidity is thinking that portraying Indians as savages isn't "negative." Right, and there's nothing negative about comparing Bush to a chimp or Obama to Osama bin Laden. It's just a neutral, objective effort to note the similarities between things. Like Darwin's study of finch beaks in the Galapagos.

It's also his thinking that Indians want to be "celebrated" as savages. Where did Dechert get this ignorant idea? Did he ask any Indians about it? Obviously not. He got it from a million media images--movies and TV shows, sports mascots, company logos, Halloween costumes, etc.--telling him that Indian savagery is good clean fun.

For more on the subject, see Stereotypical "Sioux Me!" Teazshirt and Students Learn from Chief Illiniwek?!

Below:  More "celebrations"!

No comments: