September 24, 2008

Mascots don't represent reality

Native American stereotypes perpetuated by sports mascotsIt wouldn't be an issue if these mascots actually did interpret Native Americans correctly, but they don't.

It's unsettling to watch someone who is not Native American present their interpretation of a culture they are not a part of for entertainment value. The majority if these mascots throw on some buckskin, beads, war paint and prance around the field and consider that authentic.

I have seen firsthand sacred ceremonies performed by people who dedicate their lives to the traditional Native American lifestyle. These individuals are revered throughout the community. The Native American lifestyle is not something to be taken lightly.

To see the life's work of these people mocked and mimicked at sporting events for entertainment value is offensive because it belittles what defines us as people: our culture.
And:There seems to be a fascination with a fictionalized version of Native American culture.

Realistically, Native Americans largely reside on desolate reservations, live below the poverty line, suffer from unemployment and are in a losing battle with diabetes and alcoholism.

This is not the type of Indian being portrayed by sports teams. These mascots, instead of bridging the cultural gap, continue to build upon the stereotypes.

I have encountered people who still thought I lived in a teepee and hunted buffalo for food.
Comment:  I'm amazed that some people still don't get this author's point. Namely, that when you depict Indians as chiefs and "braves," that becomes the dominant image in people's minds. People see Indian mascots and believe Indians still live and look like that.

Below:  What most people think of when they think of Indians.

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