July 01, 2009

Standing Bear place mats

Trimble:  Custer, the plastic iconHere in Nebraska not long ago, McDonald’s gave out place mats with the story of the Trial of Standing Bear, that heroic Ponca chief who fought his way back to his Nebraska homeland after enduring the tribe’s forced march to Oklahoma only months before. His trial here, brought by helpful attorneys and a newspaper publisher, and even with the passive help of General George Crook, marked the federal court’s decision that an Indian is a “person” for the purpose of Habeas Corpus. The argument that an Indian was not a “person” under the law was used by the Army to deny Standing Bear’s citizen rights of a trial, and to force his people on a second trail of tears back to Oklahoma. That court decision allowed the chief to stay in his homelands, and it set a precedent for all Indian people. The place mat story, given away with all meals by McDonald’s, was beautifully illustrated and proved popular with kids and parents.

So I tend to think that McDonald’s is not a bastion of racism and part of the vast conspiracy that I facetiously describe above. All corporate advertising departments have some person that will come up with an idiotic idea that will offend someone or some group; and this is apparently what happened with McDonald’s.
Comment:  At the end of his column, Trimble suggests we shouldn't waste time on the Custer toy. He's implicitly chastising Kevin Abourezk and Tim Giago, who wrote columns denouncing the toy. But Trimble's column is longer than their columns were. Isn't it a bit ironic to waste time writing a column telling other people not to waste time writing columns?

Anyway, for more on the Custer toy, see McDonald's Response on Custer Toy and Melvin Martin on Custer Toy. For more on Standing Bear, see Standing Bear Breakfast and Celebration and Standing Bear, Pop Icon.

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