November 25, 2008

Poospatuck in Ugly Betty

In the November 20 episode of Ugly Betty titled When Betty Met YETI, a schoolteacher named Molly says the following:I've gotta run. We're doing a big Thanksgiving thing at school today. I have a Native American from the Poospatuck tribe coming to speak.Since this is probably the first and last mention the Poospatuck will ever get on TV, I thought it deserved a note. Every bit of Indian awareness helps.

This bit is fiction, of course. But Ugly Betty's writers know how to commemorate Thanksgiving better than the city of Claremont's parents do. Don't rehash the tired clichés of centuries ago. Expose the schoolchildren to real, live Indians.

If I ever heard of the Poospatuck before, I forgot about them. I gather they're the closest tribe to New York City--closer than the better known Shinnecocks. Here are the facts about them:

Poospatuck Reservation, New YorkThe Poospatuck Reservation is an Indian reservation in the community of Mastic, Suffolk County, New York, United States. The population was 271 at the 2000 census.

The reservation is the smallest in New York. It is located on the north side of Poospatuck Creek on the east side of Poospatuck Lane and south of Eleanor Avenue.

The reservation is recognized by the State of New York but not the Bureau of Indian Affairs--an important difference in the debate over Indian gaming.
"The Fighting Poospatuck"?

I wonder why schools have named their teams after the Seminoles, Utes, and Sioux but not the Poospatuck. How about the "Fighting Poospatuck"? Wouldn't that strike fear into the hearts of one's opponents?

We hear over and over how these team names are supposed to honor the "strength, honesty, loyalty, dignity and truthfulness" of Indian tribes. But don't the Poospatuck have as much of these qualities as any other tribe? (If you disagree, cite the evidence to prove your case.)

What the Poospatuck don't have is a reputation as a fierce, warlike tribe. That and that alone is what schools are "honoring" when they name themselves after Indians. Their talk about honoring strength, honesty, and loyalty is a transparent crock of excrement.


For more on the the likes of Ugly Betty, see TV Shows Featuring Indians. Incidentally, Ugly Betty is one of the best shows on TV today. With Latinos playing a major role, it's nicely multicultural. I suggest you watch it.

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