September 23, 2011

Chief Osceola is "respectful"?

In Keep American Indian Sports Mascots, J.A. Ingle writes:Regarding David Narcomey's comments in Berry Tramel's “Tribal dispute” (Sports commentary, Sept. 16) that all American Indian sports mascots should be banned, he really needs to cool his heels and look at this situation from a different angle. Being a historian and 1/64th Cherokee, I don't see anything wrong with Indian mascots as long as they're done respectfully. Those such as the Florida State University mascot Chief Osceola are portrayed in a respectful manner and with great detail. It shows the strength and honor of the tribal people. It puts them in an almost mystical light, and keeps their historical memory alive.Comment:  Chief Osceola portrayed in a respectful manner...except he wasn't a chief, didn't wear warpaint, didn't ride a horse, didn't chuck a spear, and didn't act savage for no reason. Other than that, the cartoon-like mascot totally respects the real Osceola.

I'm sure the creators of minstrel shows said they were being respectful too. "But we love our darkies!" they probably told critics.

And putting Indians in a "mystical light"--as semi-fictional characters in America's Wild West mythology--yeah, that's helpful. People are really going to pay attention to modern-day Native issues when they equate Indians with fairies and will o' the wisps.

For more on the subject, see Seminole Spearchucker Is "Top Tradition" and Seminoles Compared to al Qaeda.

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