February 03, 2016

The Grand Ronde Indians mascot

In response to the Grand Ronde chairman's defense of Indian mascots, I posted the following:

Our school has decided to call ourselves the Grand Ronde Indians. Below is our new mascot: a brave and noble warrior.

If you think it's a racist stereotype, don't worry. It's an honor...trust me!

Tribal member objects

Some people didn't get or like my little spoof. One in particular:Mr. Schmidt,

I am an enrolled member of the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde. Please consider the fact that the general council of the Tribe did not get a chance to have a say in how the Tribal Council represents us in the mascot debate. I am offended that you have decided to represent me this way. I would hope you would educate yourself and represent yourself better than this. Please consider there are many sides to this issue, even within a single tribe.

Thank you.
You didn't have a chance? What's stopping the council from passing a resolution now? Or holding a press conference? Or writing an editorial the way Chairman Leno did? And saying they disagree with him or whoever's responsible?

Until they make their disagreement plain, it's not my duty to do more research. It's theirs to publicize their disagreement. If it's in the news, I'll see it and share it.

I'm offended that your chairman is continuing to stereotype 5.2 million Natives. How about we do something about him, since he is the problem? Such as one of the responses I suggested. Rather than criticizing me for criticizing him?I understand you criticizing him, but that's not what you did. You criticized and grouped all members as having the same view. You used the same image to characterize those who support your work. You don't feel you need to educate yourself when making yourself a leader of a movement? That is concerning to me. I told you what you posted was offensive to me and you don't think you should apologize for that. As tribal members we are not only concerned about the mascot issue but several issues within our tribe. Unfortunately, it is not at the top of the issues we are working on. We would love to conquer it all on your time table but that is a luxury we do not have. It does not mean that we are not working on it. If you are going to continue with your poor behavior, I feel I cannot support EONM.I was spoofing Leno's belief that Indian mascots are noble warriors. Saying Leno is a jerk or whatever doesn't tell us anything about his belief. To mock his belief, I have to generalize about Indians the way he did.

I think my intent was clear, but now I've stated it explicitly: I was mocking Leno's position, not the tribe as a whole.

"You criticized and grouped all members as having the same view." Incorrect. I didn't say anything about the views of other Grand Ronde Indians in this posting. This is my view of Leno's view of Indians and nothing else.

So it's not a priority to you that Native kids around the nation are suffering because of mascots? Well, it's a priority to anti-mascot activists. We're not narrowly focused on our own interests; we're focused on all of Indian country.

How long would it take you to write a brief statement denouncing Leno...a minute? Why don't you do it so we can see your concern about this issue?

Chairman speaks for tribe

My critic wanted me to educate myself, so I did. From May 2013:

'Teach our history, keep Native mascots,' Grand Ronde tribal chairman urges: Guest opinion

By Reyn LenoThe issue of Oregon public schools using tribal mascots continues to surface in the Oregon Legislature thanks to the inattentiveness of the state Board of Education to Oregon's nine federally recognized tribes. The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde wants to set the record straight on the subject.

High school mascots are supposed to be inspirational. High schools do not adopt derogatory figures or slogans; they adopt admirable and inspirational figures. The banned names of tribal mascots--Indians, Braves, Warriors and Chiefs--are inspirational Native images, and the Grand Ronde tribe does not view their use as derogatory.
The Grand Ronde tribe...not him personally. If he doesn't speak for the tribe, you can set the record straight here and now. Give us a statement that he's wrong and we'll publicize it for you.

Another critic joined in:Come on. Why joke about this offense? I'm not getting something. Why not post an alternative to the insult?I've posted about a thousand alternatives to this "insult" in this and other forums. The question is why not use this tactic once in a while to stir things up.

How exactly is this different from the numerous comments calling the Grand Ronde tribe "sellouts," "greedy," "corrupt," etc.? I must've missed all the criticism of those attacks and insults.

Are direct attacks and insults okay but not indirect ones? What can we say or not say in pursuit of social justice? Spell it out for us, please.

Leno the apple

A few people took my side against Leno:Wtf!! This is totally disgusting. Leno needs to be stripped of all power. F'ing apple!!

[You] hit the nail on the head. (APPLE) why do we put up with them ? No tribes I know of have a value system that says being greedy and selfish is what were about. My own tribe got rid of a chief who was as red an Apple as you can get and unfortunately George Tiger still has followers in place. If Mr Leno and Tiger want to act white turn in your CDIB and citizenship card's we won't miss you.
There you go. See, that wasn't hard.

Of course, a tribal member could suffer retribution from a powerful chairman, but there are ways to speak anonymously. As far as I'm concerned, silence isn't an option.

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