October 19, 2011

Justin-Siena unveils new Braves mascot

Justin-Siena unveils new Braves logo

By Isabelle DillsStudent leaders and members of the local native Wappo tribe helped unveil the school logo, which features an illustration of the Brave in a cross-armed stance. The costumed mascot will make its first appearance during this week’s homecoming festivities—the exact date is being kept a surprise for students.

“Intimidating” is how several students described the mascot, which reportedly bears an authentic likeness of a Wappo.
Justin-Siena has been without a mascot since the mid 1990s when administrators—worried that the image was offensive—did away with the private Catholic school’s original Native American mascot.

Mishewal-Wappo Tribal Chairman Scott Gabaldon attended Tuesday’s assembly to give his support of the new mascot.

“I always felt if it was done in a respectful way; it can be honorable,” Gabaldon said to the students.

He also helped educate students on how to be respectful of the Wappo tribe during school events.

The tribe did not hold pow-wows that involved drinking or drugs, nor did they use tomahawks, he said. Gabaldon also advised students not to do the type of chanting that involves hitting their mouths, creating a “wah-wah-wah” sound.

“It’s really derogatory and we ask that you refrain from that at school functions,” Gabaldon said. “If you see someone doing it, I hope you will correct them. Consider it your duty to correct them out of respect to the school and the tribe.”

During Tuesday’s assembly, students Lupe Padilla-Aguayo, 17, and Garrett Adair, 18, presented pictures and historical information about the Wappo in terms of customs, traditions and dress.

Padilla-Aguayo and Adair were among the student leaders who researched the traditions and customs of the Wappo tribe to help create the mascot. The students later presented their research to designthis!, a local print and web graphic design studio that created the logo.

One of the biggest design challenges was the Wappo’s “unique” style of headdress, known as a flicker, said Eileen Mize, Justin-Siena’s director of communications. The flicker has small feathers that border the piece as well as a distinctive feathered quill, she said. In the logo, the headdress has six feathers that stick out from the sides, closely resembling the traditional Wappo flicker.

Many different poses for the mascot were considered before deciding on the cross-armed stance, said Kris Yumul of designthis!. One of those poses included the mascot holding a spear, he said.

“We realized we didn’t need to be so literal,” Yumul said. “We liked the cross-armed stance the most because of its quiet confidence.”
Comment:  The students consider this mascot "intimidating." They wanted to give him a spear to make him more intimidating.

The mascot is stern-faced, stoic, half-naked, warpainted, from the distant past. But don't worry...he's "respectful," "honorable," and has an authentic headdress, so he's not at all stereotypical.

Yeah, right.

I guess the Wappo tribe supports this mascot because of the flicker headdress. It's still stereotypical because it presents an Indian as a primitive warrior of the past. Every mascot of this type is automatically stereotypical even if the depiction is accurate.

Debating mascots

Someone named Matthew Owen questioned me about this mascot on Facebook. It led to the following debate:Does this offend your sensibilities?Since it's an inaccurate portrayal of today's Indians and probably yesterday's Indians too, I'd say yes.Most Indians I am friends with, little offends them cause they walk in beauty, regardless of the idiocy of the world's inhabitants.One can oppose something without being offended by it.

It offends my sensibilities because it's inaccurate and stereotypical. That's different from offending me or my emotions. I don't get mad at stereotypes any more than I get mad at math errors. They're simply mistakes to be corrected.

Of course, most major Native organizations oppose Indian mascots.

Does it bother you that the Washington Redskins have made some Native children cry?

Newspaper Rock: Redskins make children cry

Love the "I'm a mature adult so stereotypes don't bother me" argument. But it kind of misses the point about whom stereotypes are influencing and harming.You know what, Fuck off buddy.

I am Cherokee and Chocktaw myself. You don't know what I am thinking and stop putting words into my mouth you little prick.

You don't get it. And likely never will.

I don't have time for your whining...
I don't get what...that most major Native organizations oppose Indian mascots? Apparently you don't get that or you wouldn't act as if it weren't true.

Guess you didn't have any intelligent arguments to offer, eh? So you ran away like a little baby. Boo-hoo...Rob challenged me and I couldn't take it!

Thanks for unfriending me after you lost the argument, chump. I don't have time for people who excuse racism and stereotyping, regardless of their heritage. If you can't take the heat, stay out of the kitchen.

Stay the hell out so I don't have to kick your butt all over the map, okay?


My fair-weather friend Owens just cracks me up. I've been writing about Indian mascots and stereotypes for almost 20 years. I must've posted tens of thousands of comments on them.

Then he comes on my wall and asks me about them? And acts like they're not a problem? What did he think I was going to say? The mountains of research and evidence are wrong and he's right?


For more on Indian mascots, see Chief Osceola Is "Respectful"? and Chief Zee's Successor?


dmarks said...

Stepping back from all stereotype issues, and looking at it aesthetically, it looks like some guy who put a lampshade on his head and put arrows loosely in it.

Anonymous said...

I lose a little respect for you every time you do this, Rob. When you start telling genuine Natives how they should think and act you're just as guilty of committing the arrogant "White man's burden" sin as any character in a Rudyard Kipling novel.

And no, I'm not talking about your facebook friend who may or may not be a real American Indian. I'm talking about the Wappo Tribal leadership who made huge progress by working with the school to use the opportunity to teach them about stereotypes and to create a mascot that is historically accurate.

The Wappo tribe has approved of this Wappo likeness. No one else should have a say in the matter, not "most major Native organizations" and certainly not some white guy who creates comics filled with other accurate Indian likenesses that are also approved by a group of American Indian fact-checkers.