February 22, 2008

Plains chief chosen as Uncas mascot

Tribal historian helps Norwich elementary design new school mascotUncas Elementary School has no mascot, which created a problem when the school tried to order T-shirts for the students.

A PTO member chose a Plains Indian wearing a headdress and war paint for the front of the shirt—different from what Mohegan Chief Sachem Uncas, the school’s namesake, would have worn, Principal Christie Gilluly said.

But the school wasn’t happy with the results, she said.

So school administrators have asked Mohegan tribal staff to help them create a mascot that honors Uncas rather than portray him as a caricature, Gilluly said. Next week, the student council and the tribal historian will meet to choose three options for a new mascot, which then will be put to a schoolwide vote.
Uncas School Seeks Proper Symbol For Its Namesake

Tribal Historian Puts students In Touch With Sachem, Moheganswhile several national organizations protest the use of Native Americans and other ethnic images as school and sports mascots, tribal historian Melissa Tantaquidgeon Zobel said this is different.

“It's not Joe Indian, it's Sachem Uncas,” said Zobel, a 12th-generation descendant of Uncas, who was born in the late 16th century. “It's not generic; it's a specific historic figure.”

Zobel presented a primer on Uncas and the Mohegans Wednesday morning to the school's students, who sat before her on the gymnasium floor.

She explained that there are no known images of Uncas, but through writings about him, historians know he was a big man, tall, sometimes wore a headdress and often had a bear claw necklace around his neck. She said Uncas wore his hair in what she described as a “Mohawk.”
Comment:  A Plains chief? Hello? Is anyone paying attention?

It's as if the last 30-plus years of educating people never happened. In 2008, the stereotyping of Indians continues.

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