October 01, 2012

Bowling alley revives "Inca" mascot

Inca Lanes mascot offends some tribal members

By Mara KnaubKenrick Escalanti has “broken bread” with the direct descendants of the Inca people. That's why the Quechan tribal member takes it personally when a local business is using a “goofy” caricature of a Native American as a mascot.

However, a spokeswoman for the owners of Inca Lanes says it never crossed their minds that it would be considered offensive and their only intention was to revive a “nostalgic” figure.

Jerry and Nancy Thomas brought back the mascot to celebrate the reopening of a newly renovated Inca Lanes, 1250 W. 16th St. It's been a part of the business since its beginnings in 1987, when the mascot was painted on a back wall.

“We have had the character for 25 years,” said Cristy Thomas, Inca Lanes spokeswoman.

“We thought bringing him back would be nostalgic. We thought people would remember him, kind of a throwback.”
Comment:  I don't know if Inca ever wore outfits like this. But the hooked nose, big teeth, and pot belly make this figure look vaguely ridiculous. It's certainly not an "honorable" depiction of the Inca.

So the owners thought this old mascot wouldn't offend anyone? Well, now they know differently. What are they going to do about it...anything?

This is such a typical situation. The owners thought it would be "fun" or "nostalgic" to bring back a stereotypical mascot. They didn't think anyone would mind because they think Indians are extinct.

Note that they're not admitting their mistake or apologizing for it...yet. They're basically flaunting their ignorance and expecting everyone to accept it. The implicit message seems to be: "Indians get upset at being depicting as primitive savages? How were we supposed to know, and why should we do anything about it?"

For more on old Indian mascots, see Decision 2012:  Silverbacks or Chiefs and EMU Revives Hurons Mascot.

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