February 12, 2016

Tulare Redskins "keep memory alive"?!

With California banning the "Redskins" nickname in schools, mascot lovers are crying all over the state. Here's a prime example:

Departure from 'Redskins' stirs up 100 years of emotions

By Luis Hernandez and Calley Cedelof“We’ve been fighting this ‘Redskin’ deal for years,” he said. “It has been a nationwide battle.”

The California law reflects the “Not Your Mascot” movement, which calls for banning all Native American names for schools and professional teams.

Celaya said he is displeased with the way in which rival schools have treated the mascot. He said he still remembers chants from opposing teams at games when he attended the school.

“Teams chant ‘burn the Redskin,’ ‘kill the Redskin’. It is uncomfortable to be a Native American sitting in the crowd and hearing that,” he added.
Comment:  Then there's this:A member of the California Indian Basketweavers Association, Malone said she doesn’t mind professional sports franchises and public schools use of Native American names.

“To me, it helps keep the memory alive,” she said. “If they don’t mention the names, they are going to forget them.”
I'll never understand idiocy like this--especially from an Indian.

This led to a brief discussion on Facebook:Uncle Tom assimilated idiot.Something like that. Why does a living Indian need a mascot to keep the memory alive? She is the keeper of the memory--her, her family, and her tribe. And everyone like her. Not some cardboard cutout from a comic book.

It would be like my saying, "We need to memorialize the town of Schmidt in Germany. Otherwise, people will forget Rob Schmidt ever existed."

Hello? I'm creating my own legacy by writing, posting, and so forth. I don't need someone else in a far-off place to do it for me.

The whole idea is ridiculous.

Rob's rant takes off

What, you think Redskins, Warriors, Braves, and Chiefs are your names? Instead of the actual words you use for yourself, perhaps in your own language? The only choice for naming yourself is the white man's stereotypical labels?

Indians are part of literally millions of place names, history books, monuments, museums, movies, TV shows, comic books, paintings, coins, stamps, etc. Not to mention millions of businesses and products with Indian names and logos. Jeep Cherokees, Indian Motorcycles, Apache helicopters, Tomahawk missiles, and on and on.

And those are just the references. We also have 567 federally recognized tribes with their own cultures, ceremonies, powwows, casinos, etc. And many more of all these things in Canada and Central and South America. Throughout the Americas, the Native population is growing; Natives are reinvigorating their cultures, gaining political power, and so forth.

But somehow Native people are teetering on the edge of extinction--of being wiped permanently from our collective memory? And saving them is up to the Tulare Redskins, represented by a stereotypical Plains chief in central California? Either we save the racist mascot or the race dies forever?

Asinine. Stupid beyond belief. It's like a kindergartner's understanding of reality. "If I close my eyes and can't see the mascot anymore, all the Indians will vanish from reality."

Elders cling to mascots?I've heard similar things around mascots in the Wisconsin Dells, and what it boils down to is that for a lot of the older generation, the mascot was the only public representation of Natives out there. I think there's a fear that once the mascot goes, there will be nothing, and for many folks, "the Indian" or whatever mascot was the one place where you could express actual Native pride--the one time the school/district/town acknowledged there were actual Indians. I think it's vital to show folks that the mascot is being replaced by better representation--a gain, not a loss.

(Yes, clearly a *huge* part of this is a lack of conscious awareness of the psychological consequences of mascots, but I do think that's where it comes from. It's part of the undervaluing of Native self-image that mascots produce.)
I'm sure that's a big part of it. But it's silly. Worse, it's ignorant--and horribly so. It's buying into the white man's assertion that Indians are dead and gone, or nearly so. All we can do is remember them as we kill off the last ones, sell their land, and take their resources.

Get a clue, lady. Read Indian Country Today, Indianz.com, and Pechanga.net with their hundreds of Native stories every day. Join Facebook and Twitter and see thousands of Native activists working to preserve and share their cultures and worldviews. Join #IdleNoMore, #MMIW, #NoKXL, #NotYourMascot, or any other movement so powerful it's known by a hashtag.

The Tulare Redskins aren't your legacy. The entire hemisphere of Native history and culture beyond the Tulare Redskins are your legacy. Embrace your real legacy, not the white man's fiction of a legacy.

For more on the subject, see Tulare Union's Stereotypical Redskins Mascot.

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