March 31, 2015

"You damn redskin!"

'You Damn Redskin!' Surviving a Racist Attack

By Dennis G. ChappabittyDuring the usual jabbering I’d said I was a Comanche Indian headed back to my final year of college. As we drove, the driver said they’d been drinking beer and needed to pull over. We pulled off near an old deserted town called Silver City, north of Drumright, Oklahoma. After driving far down the road, I asked, “Why not stop here and pee?” They said, “No, we’re going further down.”

My Indian gut told me something was not right. The car stopped and the young men all got out while I stayed in the middle of the back seat. After they took care of their business, one of them said, “Hey, why don’t you get out?” I said, “No, I don’t have to.” Then one of them said in a loud, angry tone, “You will get out, now!” With no choice, I slowly got out of the car while they all stood on the right side of the road all looking at me with squinting hateful eyes and clinched fists.

I sensed movement to the right and behind me. I quickly turned and ducked as one of them swung a bottle of beer toward the back of my skull. When I ducked, he hit the car door and the bottle shattered. The battle for my survival was on.

I took several punches to my body as they all closed in shouting “You damn redskin, we’re going to kill you!” I fought back with full force and we all fell down in the roadside ditch full of tall weeds. While down, the kicking and punching continued over and over as I moved away from the car and farther down the ditch.
Wichita North Redskins

"Remarks by Clem Ironwing, Sioux, during a public Mascot/Identity Committee hearing."

By Matthew Richter
The following remarks were made by Clem Ironwing, Sioux, November 11, 1996, during a public hearing called by the Mascot/Identity Committee. Denied a seat on the Committee, Mr. Ironwing, an elder, was given three minutes standing alone on the school stage in front of three television stations, local radio stations and the Wichita Eagle newspaper in front of an audience of 250 to explain why it is not right for the school to continue using this mascot. His remarks follow:

"The word Redskin was taught to me at a very young age, and this is the meaning it has for me.

"I am a Native American. I grew up on an Indian reservation. As a child, the United States Government and the Catholic Church came into our homes, took us away from our families, and forced us into Catholic boarding schools. There was no choice to be had in this matter, you had to go. The Catholic Church with the blessings of the United States Government took it upon themselves to determine that we were savages, and needed to be transformed to fit into their society.

"When my hair was cut short by the priests, I was called a 'redskin' and a savage. When I spoke my native tongue, I was beaten and called 'redskin.' When I tried to follow the spiritual path of my people, I was again beaten and called a 'redskin.' I was told by them to turn my back on the ways of my people, or I would forever be nothing but a dirty 'redskin.'

"The only way 'redskin' was ever used towards my people and myself was in a derogatory manner. It was never, ever, used in a show of respect or kindness. It was only used to let you know that you were dirty and no good, and to this day still is."

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