October 27, 2009

"Reservation" out, "Tee Pee" and "Indians" in

Twin Lakes decision wise, respectful

By Nathan BairdWhen changes occur for the sake of political correctness, some developments are justified and others are just silly.

I eagerly applaud one change under way. Twin Lakes athletic director Kent Adams recently asked local media to stop referring to the school's home football field as "The Reservation."

That title has always made me uneasy. Using Indians as a mascot name, or referring to one's gymnasium as The Tee Pee, can positively pay homage to a community's Native American heritage.

However, the same can't be said for the term "reservation." It reminds me of a shameful time in our history when the government forced a nation of people from their homes. I can only imagine what a Native American would think of such a flippant use of the term.
Comment:  So it's okay to call the gym "The Tee Pee," but not to call the field "The Reservation"? They sound about equally bad to me.

Baird has made a false distinction between what "honors" Indians and what doesn't. Being consigned to a "tee pee" isn't any kind of honor for today's Indians. None of them live in tipis now and most of their ancestors didn't live in them then. In particular, I think Indiana's Indians were too far east to use tipis.

The criterion Baird should be using isn't whether the term is honorable or not, but whether it's stereotypical or not. "Tee Pee" is actually more stereotypical for today's Indians than "reservation," but neither one is flattering. The Twin Lakes school should drop both names.

In fact, athletic director Adams seems insensitive to what Indians care about. I suspect his people have committed many faux pas besides naming the field "The Reservation." They should avoid the inevitable mistakes and stereotypes by eliminating their "Indians" name and mascot altogether.

I did a quick Google search and...whoops, look what I found:

The team's emblem is a spear and people are worried about "The Reservation?! Oh, you poor saps. You're spreading stupid stereotypes about Indians and you're too ignorant to realize it. Indians as spearchuckers...why, because they were too primitive to develop bows and arrows? How insulting can you get?

Save yourself the embarrassment and drop the "Indians" name, you nitwits. You're not smart enough to portray Indians honestly and authentically, without mistakes or stereotypes. I'm not sure any school is that smart, but you're definitely not.

For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.


Linde Knighton said...

Wasn't Indiana an Adena area? Whatsamatta, too civilized?

dmarks said...

"None of them live in tipis now and most of their ancestors didn't live in them then. In particular, I think Indiana's Indians were too far east to use tipis."

I keep running across historic photos and drawings (from more than a 100 years ago) that show tipis being used in Michigan. If tipis were being used there, they were probably being used by the Natives in the area now known as Indian also.

Click here, and you will see several structures (mostly tipis, and what appears to be a tent-like shed or two)

dmarks said...

correction: area known as Indiana.