By Vincent Schilling
So over the course of one week–I decide to pay very close attention to the stimulus that entered my brain regarding the definition of an American Indian person. I don’t know if it was coincidence–much like if you have ever ridden in a VW bug and you suddenly notice all of the other VW Bugs on the freeway–but I was absolutely amazed at what I experienced from all visceral fronts.
It started with television, of course. I was watching an episode of Storage Wars, when the auctioneer is talking with the other guy that has purchased a unit of Native American artifacts. I was frustrated that ancestral property was being sold for a few hundred bucks but then fuel was added to the fire; unsurprisingly within 30 seconds the comments about scalping started. And so began a telling week.
In my car driving all over Hampton Roads in Virginia, the NFL team adopted by the region is the Washington Redskins. Bumper stickers, T-shirts, jackets, sweatpants, window decals all made their way into my brain for what seemed a hundred times a day. I have been tempted many times to hire a graphic artist to create a giant decal of other “skin-color”–Skins characters alongside the Redskins logo–but then I fear coming across as racist. Truth be told I don’t want to offend another ethnicity–but why is it okay that we are still portrayed this way?
The week continued, I went to a local thrift store–admittedly a guilty pleasure of my wife Delores and myself–and once again I was surprised at the amount of American Indian “education.” In the first glass case sat a large plastic Indian chief next to Mickey Mouse and Santa Claus and a few aisles over was a cheap dream catcher in a plastic bag with a 99 cent tag. I also saw a lunch bag with Indian markings and found in a stack of comic books Daffy Duck with an Indian headdress standing next to a tipi on the front cover.
For more on the subject, see "Little Things" Have Big Consequences and Natives Experience Racism Every Day.