March 04, 2011

Students "honor" Indians by ignoring them

Mascots lovers claim they're honoring Indians with their stereotypical mascots. A University of North Dakota student points out what a joke that is:

Honor found in engagement, not logo

By Martin RottlerWhen the announcement that the logo would be changed was made in April of 2010, several small groups of students and community members gathered together to hold a series of "rallies" that would show UND's administration what honor was about. I went to these events with a neutral point of view, wanting to soak in everything I could.

Discussions with various students and community members during the "demonstraphoto" (honor through photography, apparently) and at a candlelight vigil that was "coincidentally" scheduled during the Grand March of UND's Wacipi didn't demonstrate any more proof of "honor." As a matter of fact, the distance between nickname supporters and Hugo's rules of honor was lengthened by what I heard!

Examples from these events were in great supply: the unnamed student who said that, because he was Caucasian, he couldn't "really see their (American Indians) perspective and how they feel about it"; the 25+ people I spoke which said outright that they have never been and wouldn't be going to the Wacipi that weekend; and the hundreds of Facebook comments on event walls and groups which would make many racists blush. An American Indian UND student standing on the sidelines of the Demonstraphoto provided the most damning proof of this communal lack of honor: there were more people in jerseys at the photo than there were at the prior year's Wacipi.

This is the perfect example of the disconnect between honor and reality: UND and the city of Grand Forks are lucky to have a premier American Indian cultural event in their backyard. Honor and respect does not come from wearing a jersey/sweatpants/hat to a hockey game, having a candlelight vigil or taking a photo.

Honor and respect comes from firsthand experience with culture and people. Where are all of the nickname supporters at what is the easiest and most accessible way to begin learning about the aforementioned culture and history? Last year, they were walking down University Ave., in earshot of the beating drums and chants of the Wacipi. This year? Who knows. If the greater Grand Forks community truly wanted to lessen the distance between the rules of honor and their current positions, attendance at this year's Wacipi would be a great first step.
Comment:  As I've said many times, mascot lovers aren't honoring Indians. They're honoring their fictional version of Indians. I.e., Indians as a noble but doomed race that existed mainly to justify the white supremacy of Euro-Americans.

"They were savages," thinks the typical mascot lover, "who refused to use the land or share it. They fought bravely for their primitive and superstitious way of life, but they were destined to lose to our superior civilization. We honor them for validating our belief that God wanted Europeans to tame and settle America."

For more on the subject, see Indian and White Guy Can't Mention Indians and "Fighting Sioux = "Obnoxious Baboons."

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