When offensive Indian mascots hit too close to home
So, imagine my surprise, when in the span of just a few hours I was able to capture all of the following images, without even really trying. I'll include the stories with each of them--though admittedly, I was often too shocked or angered to engage in long dialogues with any of the offenders.
Yeah, that's a wild-eyed tomahawk wielding Indian holding the SKIN of the Arizona Wildcat. Right, this is honoring, this is showing pride in Native peoples and traditions. I felt sick to my stomach as I took the picture. She was babbling on and on about the mascot back in the day, and honestly, my ears were roaring with shame and rage, and I missed the majority of what she said. I caught the end though; "We always said, when they got rid of the Indian, 'well, that's just another Indian out of a job!'" I looked at her with a blank face and turned my back.
Adrienne's reaction when she got home:
There are real issues of power here too--these people that I took the pictures of made me feel, if only for a moment, like an unwelcome outsider on my own campus. A campus of a university that I love with all of my heart, and have donated so much time and effort to, made me feel like I wasn't deserving of a spot at reunion. In their eyes, I was a savage in a loincloth, with a big nose and wild eyes, not a Cherokee woman who graduated with a double major, has a masters, and is completing her doctorate. A campus that welcomes this kind of open marginalization, and yes, racism, of Native peoples is creating a system wherein Native students, alumni, faculty, and staff, will never be seen as equals.
You may say you're "honoring" us--but I'm telling you, as a Native person, that this in no way honors me. My amazing friend M. posted this on Facebook yesterday, and I think this sums it up beautifully: