May 01, 2010

Indian mascot for Figawi race

Figawi race mascot rankles tribes

By Stephanie VoskThey've scrapped the feather and turned the spyglass around, but the local Wampanoag tribes say the new logo for this year's Figawi race still doesn't cut it.

Race organizers changed the logo for the 2010 event after the Mashpee and Aquinnah tribes complained that the picture of a naked, red-skinned boy with a feather in his hair looking through the wrong end of a telescope was not appropriate.

The organizers considered 10 images before settling on a picture of a boy in a T-shirt and a hat looking through a telescope the right way, race chairman David Crawford said. "It really has been offensive and we decided to acquiesce and do what we're supposed to do," he said.

After reviewing the new logo, however, Cheryl Andrews-Maltais, chairwoman of the Wampanoag Tribe of Gay Head (Aquinnah), yesterday said she doesn't feel it's any less insensitive to American Indians.

Comment:  The old logo was obviously offensive. A half-naked savage so ignorant he couldn't figure out how to use a telescope? What were they thinking: "Let's make fun of an Indian...because we can"? What the hell does a primitive Indian have to do with a boat race?

I'd say the new logo is clearly better--less offensive. Among other things, they've changed the skin color from near-red to a more neutral tan.

But the Indian still has long hair and a biggish nose. And I'm still wonder what the Indian has to do with the race. It's not exactly wrong, just weird.

Perhaps the message is something like: Indians were here first, they're still here, and they're watching over the race. Okay, but the Indians probably weren't invited to the race and didn't give it their blessing. So the logo is still weird.

Incidentally, "Figawi" isn't an obscure Indian word:

FigawiThe Figawi or Figawi Race Weekend is an annual sailing race from Hyannis to Nantucket on the Memorial Day weekend. It is a relatively prominent race and attracts boats from all around New England, not just Cape Cod. While it is a race, its primary aim is to be a fun event.

The name "Figawi" originated with the first sailors of the race, including John Linehan, a well-known New England sailboat racer from Osterville, Cape Cod who, when encountering fog during that first sail to Nantucket, stated, "Where the fuck are we?" The phrase from this foggy passage became lore and was shortened to the more socially acceptable "Figawi."
For more on the subject, see Team Names and Mascots.

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