July 21, 2008

Mascots teach us Indians?

Another know-nothing named Ken Blanchard claims we'll forget about Indians if we remove mascots such as Arkansas State's Jumpin' Joe (below). Wrong.

Lesbians & Indians[T]he modern left has worked for decades to build a legal doctrine of proprietary ownership of images and words by indigenous peoples. My original Alma Mater, Arkansas State University, used to have a football team called The Indians. The team mascot looked a lot like Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians. But Native Americans apparently own the idea of Native Americans, and so ASU dumped the "Indians" name, and now the team is called the Red Wolves.

I happen to think that this is very bad political strategy. We are now in the business of systematically erasing the most visible references to our Native heritage. The cowboys and Indians movies are long gone. The mascots are on the way out. In a few decades, most American children won't know that there ever were such people as the Cherokee or Osage nations. That is what the Left is achieving. What Native American activists should have done was what everyone who owns a powerful brand name should: lease it out but keep it under control. Team mascots could have been a vehicle for teaching about our Native heritage, and I say "our" because Americans are Americans, native or otherwise. I am sure the reply would be: "we would never sell our heritage." Fine. Then someone will have to dig it up, a few centuries from now, and say all sorts of ridiculous things about it.
Comment:  Are mascots really "the most visible references to our Native heritage"? Perhaps. Will eliminating them cause the result Ken envisions? Not likely.

Indians were permanently etched into the American consciousness almost from the moment Europeans arrived. The early media such as romantic paintings, poems, and plays; Wild West shows; and Western movies cemented the association of Indians with the wilderness, the frontier, the mythical West. These portrayals ensured that we'd never forget them.

Mascots are a 75-year blip on 500-plus years of Native representations. Without mascots, we might revert to the 1875-1925 era, when the aforementioned media products predominated. Indians were well-known before mascots and they'd still be well-known.

Moreover, we wouldn't be without movies featuring Indians. Studios are producing new Westerns: Lonesome Dove and its spinoffs, Dances with Wolves, Open Range, 3:10 to Yuma. And the old Westerns are more available now, on cable and DVD, than ever. So Ken is wrong about movie images being unavailable.

Return to ignorance impossible

More important, reverting to an era of pre-movie, pre-mascot stereotypes isn't going to happen. In case Ken hasn't heard, this is the Information Age. Unless our civilization collapses, we'll never grow more ignorant than we are now.

There are plenty of things to replace the vanishing Indian mascot. Ken can check the new Sacagawea dollars in his change. He can visit a powwow, art gallery, or museum. Go to an Indian casino and gamble. Keep up with the news on PECHANGA.net and Indianz.com. There are roughly 100 articles a day or 36,500 articles a year--more than enough evidence to prove Natives still live.

As for entertainment, there are plenty of options in that area too. As we know, Natives and enlightened non-Natives are producing movies, TV shows, documentaries and news reports, plays, books, CDs, and comic books that tell the truth about Native history and culture. With any luck, these will replace the disappearing stereotypes in people's minds.

P.S. My response to Kenn (no relation to Ken) on the so-called threat of Indians becoming invisible applies here too. Check it out.

Below:  Poor ignorant Ken's primary source of information about Indians.

1 comment:

writerfella said...

Writerfella here --
First of all, the original writer was wrong that the "days of cowboys and Indians" movies are over. Secondly, witness: THE LONE RANGER, COWBOYS AND ALIENS, SUKIYAKI WESTERN DJANGO (Quentin Tarantino), COMANCHE MOON Part II, APPALOOSA, UNDEAD OR ALIVE, SERAPHIM FALLS, and MISSIONARY MAN. Such an inconsistent fallacy renders anything else in tandem he may say also as fallacious...
All Best
Russ Bates