October 11, 2014

Tulare Union's stereotypical Redskins mascot

Here's the kind of mascot story that has appeared since the Washington Redskins controversy took off:

Tulare Union High School stands by Redskin mascot amid national firestorm

As controversy over Redskin mascot grows stronger than ever, so does Redskin pride at Tulare Union High School

By Dan Kukla
A statue of Chief Seattle, the epitome of Tulare Union High School's depiction of its Redskin mascot, evokes a myriad of reactions depending on the eye of the beholder.

Where some see beauty and dignity, others see ugly racism.

The school views the centerpiece of its campus and Redskin Pride Park as a masterpiece portraying honor and respect.

"This park is where the pride starts," said Mark Hatton, Union's director of student activities. "This is literally the heartbeat of the campus."

ASB president David John Macedo comes from a family rich with Redskin legacy. His grandparents met and fell in love at Union. Now he feels a deep sense of pride in living out that legacy as a Redskin himself.

"It's definitely a lesson to be learned when you're a Redskin," Macedo said. "It's a lesson in stewardship and courage and most of all community."

This profound reverence for the Redskin way of life manifests itself in the school's depiction of the Redskin mascot.

You will not find any animated Indian cartoons on campus or letterman jackets. Over time, Union decided to phase out the use of weapons from its imagery and the word "war" from its vernacular. The physical mascot itself is not a big-headed costume, but rather a human likeness of an Indian Princess that Ingram describes as "beautiful" and "gorgeous."

Indeed, from Chief Seattle to the many murals, signs and displays featured around campus, a walk around school grounds turns up nothing but positive and respectful portrayals of Native Americans.

Comment:  This particular example of mascotry set me off for a couple of reasons:

1) The school uses a real-life individual--Chief Seattle--as its mascot. The only other example of this that I can think of is FSU's "Chief" Osceola.

2) The photos are so obviously stereotypical, yet writer Kukla claims he sees only positive portrayals.

In response to this article, I posted the following comment:"A walk around school grounds turns up nothing but positive and respectful portrayals of Native Americans"...are you serious? Seattle lived in Washington and had nothing to do with California. He did not wear a headdress from the Great Plains or have sexy maidens who did. As Snopes explains, the speech quoted on the statue is a well-known phony from a 1972 film.

Chief Seattle

So every Tulare Union depiction of Seattle is false and stereotypical. That isn't what I'd call "positive and respectful." Falsifying someone's history and appearance is the epitome of disrespect.
I don't know if the girl in the photo is supposed to be "the human likeness of an Indian Princess." Whether it's her or someone else in a costume, Native women don't wear headdresses or dress in sexy buckskin skirts.

Then there's the fact that the school "phase[d] out the use of weapons from its imagery and the word 'war' from its vernacular." Given the remaining stereotypes, this isn't some great achievement.

Moreover, it shows the school's underlying belief: that Indians did nothing but fight wars. That's why it chose the word "redskins": because it embodies the Indians' warlike savagery.

Finally, here's the real Seattle:

Does Seattle look anything like the Plains chief in the logos and statue? No.

Note the woven hat he's holding, which is typical of the Duwamish and other Pacific Northwest tribes. Woven hat, not feather bonnet. Not all Indians come from the Great Plains, silly Tulare Union.

To reiterate, Tulare Union's mascot is false and stereotypical. Worse, the school is arguably racist for ignoring the protests and implying that all Indians fit its Plains chief/Seattle/"Redskin" mold. This is yet another Indian mascot that should bite the dust, and quickly.

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