Plass, a member of the Menominee, Stockbridge-Munsee tribe, was asked to be the Indian mascot for his Shawano Senior High School in Wisconsin.
"I was a teenage mascot," said Plass, who did it for a while, but later realized he was horrified by the experience and the racial stereotyping.
The experience convinced him to fight racial stereotyping of all kinds, the former senior class president said.
Plass brings Bittersweet Winds, his exhibit on Native American stereotyping, to the State Museum Saturday as part of the Seventh Annual Algonquian Peoples Seminar sponsored by the Native American Institute of the Hudson River Valley. The exhibit is open to members of the public not attending the seminar, according to the museum.
"It's a traveling exhibit on Native American imagery. I call it the good, the bad and the ugly of how our images are used and continued to be used not only with sports teams and with marketing," Plass said.
The 160 items in the exhibit include photographs, documents and marketing items. Native Americans are depicted as team mascots, comic caricatures and blood-thirsty savages.
Plass said his goal isn't to argue but to educate others about the impact of racial stereotyping.
I know the woman who worked with Plass to create this exhibit. In fact, I sent her a few hundred of my stereotype images. I haven't seen the exhibit, since it's back east, but I believe it uses some of my images.
So I'm doing the same thing as Plass, an Indian educator. And I couldn't agree more with his stated goal.
My goal isn't to argue with the actual stereotypers, though I'll do it if necessary. It isn't to persuade the Mel Gibsons, Dick Wolfs, or Larry McMurtrys of the world. It's to "educate others about the impact of racial stereotyping." Period.
Below: What you might see if you attended the show: team mascots, comic caricatures, and blood-thirsty savages.