Some collected materials about the NCAA's
decision to ban Indian sports mascots from the Indianapolis area

This is how it started...

NCAA bans some mascots at tourneys

Associated Press
August 5, 2005
 
The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise. The NCAAs executive committee decided this week the organization did not have the authority to bar Indian mascots by individual schools, committee chairman Walter Harrison said today in Indianapolis. "Nicknames or mascots the NCAA deems hostile or abusive would not be allowed on team uniforms or other clothing beginning with any NCAA tournament after Feb. 1," said Harrison, the University of Hartford's president.

What each institution decides to do is really its own business outside NCAA championship events, Harrison said.
What we are trying to say is that we find these mascots to be unacceptable for NCAA championship competition, he added.

At least 18 schools have mascots the NCAA deems hostile or abusive, including Florida States Seminole and Illinois Illini. The full list of schools was not immediately released. Not all schools with Indian-related nicknames are on that list. NCAA officials said some schools using the Warrior nickname do not use Indian symbols and would not be affected.

North Carolina-Pembroke, which uses the nickname Braves, will not face sanctions. NCAA president Myles Brand explained the schools student body has historically admitted a high percentage of American Indians and more than 20 percent of the students are American Indians. Schools on the list could still appeal. I suspect that some of those would like to having a ruling on that, Brand said. But unless there is a change before Feb. 1, they will have to abide by it.

Major college teams also would not be subjected to the new rules because there is no NCAA Divsion I-A tournament or playoff.

Vernon Bellecourt, president of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media, was pleased with the postseason ban but had hoped for even stronger action. "We would have hoped the NCAA would have provided the moral leadership on this issue, but obviously they've chosen to only go halfway," said Bellecourt, a member of the Anishinabe-Ojibwe Nation in Minnesota.

The NCAA two years ago recommended that schools determine for themselves whether the Indian depictions were offensive.

Florida State, for example, has received permission from the Seminole tribe in Florida to use the nickname. "That, however, will not suffice. Other Seminole tribes are not supportive, " said Charlotte Westerhaus, the NCAA vice president for diversity and inclusion.

Among the schools to change nicknames in recent years over such concerns were St. Johns (from Redmen to Red Storm) and Marquette (from Warriors to Golden Eagles).

The NCAA plans to ban schools using Indian nicknames from hosting postseason events. Harrison said schools with such mascots that have already been selected as tournament sites would be asked to cover any offensive logos. Such logos also would be prohibited at postseason games on cheerleader and band uniforms starting in 2008.

Other measures approved this week include stronger penalties for schools that repeatedly fall below the NCAAs new academic cutline.

Harrison said schools would receive a warning letter the first year; restrictions on scholarships, recruiting and playing time the second year; and a postseason ban the third year. If a school fails to meet the standard four consecutive years, all teams at that school would be ineligible for postseason play.

"I'd fully expect that we never get to the fourth year," Harrison said. "A school should take stronger action before that. But I think this should send a message that there will be real, serious consequences if you don't. Schools also would receive a bonus point if a player returns to school to complete his or her degree."

The board also approved a two-year contract extension for Brand. His deal was to run through Dec. 31, 2007 and now includes an indefinite two-year rollover

Where it is now...

NCAA allowing Florida State to use its Seminole mascot
By Steve Wieberg, USA TODAY

 
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Florida State's fierce defense of its Seminoles nickname and mascot proved successful Tuesday.
The NCAA granted a waiver in the first challenge to a new policy, removing FSU from a list of colleges whose sports teams, it said, use "hostile or abusive" Native American names and imagery.
"The staff review committee noted the unique relationship between the university and the Seminole Tribe of Florida as a significant factor," NCAA senior vice president Bernard Franklin said in a statement released Tuesday. "The decision of a namesake sovereign tribe, regarding when and how its name and imagery can be used, must be respected even when others may not agree."
The Executive Committee, which unveiled restrictions on such symbols this month, "continues to believe the stereotyping of Native Americans is wrong," senior vice president Bernard Franklin said in a statement. "However, in its review of the particular circumstances regarding Florida State, the staff review committee noted the unique relationship between the university and the Seminole Tribe of Florida as a significant factor."
The tribe officially sanctions FSU's use of Seminoles as a nickname and Chief Osceola as a mascot. Max Osceola, the chief and general council president of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, said Tuesday that it was an "honor" to be associated with FSU.
But dissent has been voiced within the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, primarily by general council member David Narcomey, but the council has taken no official position on the FSU issue, according to Jennifer McBee, the tribe attorney general. Narcomey, saying he was voicing his opinion only, wrote in an e-mail to USA TODAY of the decision: "I am deeply appalled, incredulously disappointed ... I am nauseated that the NCAA is allowing this 'minstrel show' to carry on this form of racism in the 21st century."
FSU athletics director Dave Hart called the decision "the right thing to do." Hart, President T.K. Wetherell, school trustees and state lawmakers reacted angrily to FSU's inclusion on the list, subjecting it to restrictions at NCAA championships. This ruling affects only FSU; 17 others are subject to penalties.
"The two things we requested in our appeal were granted," Wetherell said. "I'm ready to play football, start school and have classes begin and all that kind of stuff."

Take a look at many opinions in between...
 

Editorials

Indianapolis Star

World without Wompum
Dan Carpenter

August 17, 2005

A friend and fellow Marquette University alumnus tells me he stopped sending money to the school as soon as it dropped the "Warriors" nickname under which it became a basketball power during our years and under which it won its only NCAA hoops championship.

That's principle and priorities for you, I guess. I hadn't paid a great deal of attention when the change came in 1994, and I've got no money to donate anyway; but as a rule, I endorse any and all dumping of ethnic monikers and mascots, including the noble warrior stereotype.

The "positive-image" proponents are a bit disingenuous anyway, if you ask me. I recall that, two decades prior to the cataclysmic erasure of "Warriors," the Jesuit institution had canned its popular "Willie Wompum" (sic) mascot, portrayed by a bouncy student in a faux fringed buckskin costume with an outsized papier mache head of a grinning redskin.

A warrior with a toy tomahawk. Protests greeted this merciful move, even during that era of supposed awakening about all the racism under America's noses; and I have to admit, I was part of the general indifference toward this grotesque insult when I was a left-lunatic student and campus newspaper editorialist during the late 1960s.

As far as I could tell, only the politicized minority of American Indians themselves were passionate about the issue, a manifestation of social inertia that has counterparts in black fan support for segregated baseball in the 1930s and women's acceptance of all-male fire departments before the 1970s.

Whether you're a Seminole making a business deal with Florida State University or a Shawnee who's barely aware there's a football team in Washington, D.C., you'll tend to flow with the tide of the way it's (seemingly) always been. Keep this in mind the next time a defender of the status quo piously points out that he's heard little or no objection from an exploited minority group. Like the rest of us, they're trying to get along. It's up to the best of us, regardless of whether we're affected personally, to go on the warpath for social change.

Given the genocidal treatment of America's native peoples by the European settlers and their more subtle heirs, the use of Indian caricatures to sell beer and whip up stadium crowds strikes me as arrogant at best. At worst, it's something akin to those marches through Irish Catholic neighborhoods by Protestants celebrating the victory of William of Orange. Dropping the nicknames and mascots has to be one of the easier acts of reparation the ruling class will ever confront; and indeed it's been done without apparent disastrous consequences at Stanford, St. John's, Dartmouth, etc. A generation has come of age knowing only "Golden Eagles" for Marquette's teams; and as drab as that fallback is, it survived a recent alumni referendum against "Warriors"
(resurrected by some older diehards waving big donations) and the utterly lusterless "Marquette Gold."

Yet the pockets (sometimes deep) of resistance persist, as the letters to the editor and the declarations of pious outrage from white big shots attest. I would advise all of them, including my old friend, who happens to reside in Florida, to relax. A resurrected Willie Wompum wouldn't chop down a single 21st- century opponent for our alma mater, and the Florida State Seminoles by any other nickname would continue to smell of sweet success on the field and foul deeds on the police blotter.

______________________________________________________________________________

Indian Mascot Issue Heats Up

By: By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service


The final paragraph in a recent editorial in the Rapid City Journal gave me a real laugh. It reads, "The NCAA has finally recognized that the use of Indian names, logos and mascots are offensive to the Indians and cannot be used at NCAA-sponsored events. It's about time."

It's about time? I wrote my first column for the Rapid City Journal about using Indians as mascots in 1982. That was 23 years ago. Since that time I have written many more columns for the newspaper on mascots. Not once in those 23 years did the editors of the paper write an editorial agreeing or disagreeing with my stance.

They continue, to this day, to use the "R" word (Redskin) on their sports pages and heaven knows I've mentioned this in other columns. And they have the audacity to say; "It's about time?"

Will miracles never cease? To have this newspaper finally acknowledge that what I have written for them all of these years is correct and right is a minor miracle. It didn't care one whit as long as only Indians were complaining. It took an action by the mostly white organization, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to open their heretofore-sealed eyes. Now when it stops using the "R" word on their sports pages I will really believe it is sincere. Otherwise, its editorial is pure hypocrisy.

Some of the major television networks are playing the ruling by the NCAA as major news. The ruling was a small victory for those of us who have protested the use of Indians as mascots for the past 20 years. It states that the NCAA did not have the authority to force schools to drop Indian mascots or nicknames but they could bar the use of Indian mascots from postseason playoffs that are sanctioned by them. The NCAA also pinpointed a couple of teams that use mascots offensively. One was Florida State University's use of the Seminole Tribe's name.

The uproar at FSU is that the Seminole Tribe approves of their use as mascots.
I think the chairman of the Seminole Nation should attend the next FSU football game and allow the fans to put a collar and leash around his neck and lead him around the 50-yard line at halftime. As a matter of fact, since the Seminole do not mind that their name appears on sweatshirts and T-shirts as "Noles," they should shorten their tribal name to "Noles" in order to accommodate the FSU fans.

I believe it is about time that the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Education Association censor those Indian tribes that would demean all other Indian nations by allowing their good names to be associated as mascots for America's fun and games.

How can they consider it an honor to be mimicked, aped and insulted at sporting events? As I have said many times before, if there was a team mascot called "Zulu" would the blacks consider it an honor to see white fans paint their faces black, put on African attire, and wave spears in the air at football games? I think not!

Fox News pitted an obvious redneck against our own Charlotte Teters, a member of the Spokane Tribe, on a recent newscast. The brilliant producer of the show failed to realize that there is a difference in time zones and assumed that Teters, who lives in Santa Fe, was on Central Time. He phoned her while she was still in the bathroom brushing her teeth and told her she would be on the air in five minutes. Rushing to the phone without a chance to relax and prepare, she had to face the abusive comments of her protagonist. Under these severe circumstances, she held her head high and responded to the idiotic questions of the show's host with intelligence, dignity and self-assurance.

There are benefits to the NCAA decision. First of all, it put an issue the majority of Indian people have been fighting for on the front burner. Teters responded to the trumped-up Sports Illustrated survey on the use of Indians as mascots. It was a survey so rigged by SI that it falsely indicated that most Indians loved to be mascots. She referred to a survey that ran in my former newspaper, Indian Country Today, which was then the largest Indian newspaper in America, which showed just the opposite results.

Discussing Indians as mascots is like arguing politics or religion with hard- core fanatics. The word "fan," incidentally, is derived from "fanatics." These fans have never walked in our moccasins and they will never know how we feel.
They will never know the difference between an "insult" and an "honor." If anyone wants to honor Indians, honor our treaties.

The president of the NCAA, Myles Brand, wrote a brilliant editorial in the August 11 issue of USA Today. He wrote, "Imitation, it is said, is the highest form of flattery. But when it is viewed in the eyes of those being portrayed as hostile and abusive -- no matter how well-intended -- imitation becomes the lowest form of disrespect and insult."

If a conservative newspaper like the Rapid City Journal can admit its past mistakes, so too can many others. The mascot issue has been under the nose of the Journal editors for more than 23 years in the columns I wrote for them. And now they finally admit I was right. I laughed at the editorial because I was stunned by it. But, as their editorial goes, "It's about time."

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is president of the Native American Journalists Foundation Inc. He can be reached via e-mail at najournalists@rushmore.com.


 


Mascot ban helps, but Indians face bigger issues
Ruth Holladay
August 14, 2005

 
So did Indiana's American Indians ring up the NCAA's headquarters last week, eager to praise that body's executive committee for its decision to ban Indian-related mascots and names from championship basketball games?Did they invite National Collegiate Athletic Association President Myles Brand and his dozen committee members to a powwow? Did they cheer? Hardly.


In truth, the call has left plenty of Indians here angry, bitter and even more aware of their second-class status.
This is information non-Indians need to process -- especially if you are among those sports fans angry about being denied your Chief Illiniwek Indian security blanket or convinced that the politically correct police engineered this plot to spoil your fun.
Indians have a different perspective. And while this state's 38,700 American Indians do not speak with one voice, they share plenty of concerns.

First, the NCAA's decision did not go far enough, some said. "It is a step in the right direction," said Noadiah Malott, Noblesville, a Cherokee and spokeswoman for the state's American Indian Council. The social group, made up mostly of mixed-race Indians, is planning a powwow next weekend in Lebanon. Like others, she would like to see all offensive Indian mascots abolished at all sporting events.
She knows most non-Indians don't get it; friends have told her the mascots and names are a sign of respect.
That's not what Indians see when a white guy is dancing around, pretending to be Indian or acting stupid, she said.
"People don't understand the sacredness to us of what those mascots are wearing, the stories behind them and how we hold all that in esteem," she said.

Second, the NCAA's decision is a cruel and ironic reminder that in the very state named for their ancestors, Indiana's Indians do not have a place at the table. "This is not just about mascots," said Debra Haza, Columbus, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians. "It is about everything that pertains to Indians here."
Everything means jobs, health, education and cultural awareness. The problem is not just keeping up, it's getting started. The state's first and only Native American Indian Affairs Commission was barely up and crawling in 2004 when its chairman quit last winter, after five months. Indian activists are eager for the governor to appoint new leadership. Many Indians are struggling so hard to sustain a decent life that the mascot issue is almost trivial, suggested Bruce Brown, executive board chairman of the American Indian Center of Indiana. The federally funded agency, with offices in Indy and Peru, served 100 Indians last year.

Indians have higher rates of diabetes, alcoholism and tuberculosis than other races, said Brown, a member of the Sac and Fox tribe of central Iowa. Indiana has no health care center to serve federally recognized Indians. The closest is in Chicago.As for education, Indiana gives lip service but no action, said Sally Tuttle, Kokomo, a member of the Choctaw Nation. Mixed-race American Indian kids in public school are not counted as Indians, she said. If they were, the state could get federal dollars to promote Indian education.
Still bent out of shape over the Indian mascot thing? Try a mile in someone else's shoes.
 


Andrea Neal is a teacher at St. Richard's School in Indianapolis and adjunct scholar with the Indiana Policy Review Foundation. Contact her at aneal@inpolicy.org

NCAA makes wrong call in nickname dispute

August 10, 2005
 
Perhaps the NCAA failed to see the irony. While meeting in Indiana -- "land of the Indians" -- its executive committee decided to censure college team names derived from American Indiana nations, including the Seminoles, the Utes, the Choctaw and the Chippewas.


A victory for cultural diversity? Not really. By adopting a policy of condemnation, the NCAA has blocked the conversation that leads to cultural understanding. Who's in a better position to decide if a nickname offends? An athletic regulatory monopoly in Indianapolis or the universities and American Indian groups affected?
The issue is not a frivolous one. Institutions of higher learning have an obligation to eliminate symbols that are racist or demeaning. Few would object to the NCAA's written policy to prohibit member schools from displaying "hostile and abusive" racial and ethnic labels or imagery at any of the 88 NCAA championships.
The problem is in the application.


The NCAA declared as hostile or abusive the nicknames of 18 schools, only a few of which jump out as patently inappropriate (the Southeast Oklahoma State Savages and the Carthage,Wis., Redmen, among them). The NCAA censure list included teams known as Indians, those with tribal names, most but not all teams known as Braves and those with the words "fighting" in their nickname: the Fighting Illini and Fighting Sioux.
What a shame. Indian names are a part of our national identity. Surely it's possible to wipe out stereotypes, such as the grinning red face that still appears on the Cleveland Indians' ball cap, without wiping away the historical symbols that add to our country's cultural richness.


Especially when Americans Indians agree to it. The Seminole Tribe supports the continued use of the nickname Seminole by Florida State University. In a resolution passed this year, the Tribal Council stated that the "Seminole Tribe of Florida has an established relationship with Florida State University, which includes its permission to use the name, 'Seminole,' as well as various Seminole symbols and images, such as Chief Osceola, for educational purposes and the Seminole Tribe of Florida wishes to go on record that it has not opposed, and, in fact, supports the continued use of the name 'Seminole.' "


This kind of agreement should not be denounced but emulated. The NCAA could insist, for example, that any university that uses a tribal nickname meet with local American Indian residents to develop a memorandum of understanding about what is respectful.


Brian J. Buchanan, chief of the Miami Nation of Indiana, said he's glad the NCAA forced the issue because some schools continue to misrepresent American Indians with logos that feature tomahawks and derogatory caricatures. But he said the decision went too far in the case of the Seminoles and others who have thoughtfully worked out appropriate usage.


Buchanan said he would welcome a conversation with any high school, college or pro sport team in Indiana striving to do the right thing. At least eight Indiana high schools, for example, go by the nickname, Braves.
"I've had a few high schools notify us on that and wanted our thoughts and opinions," Buchanan said. "The mascot called the Braves, as long as it's done in a dignified way, is not a putdown. If you call somebody a brave and then show an Indian who looks like he's three sheets to the wind with a tomahawk in his hand, that misrepresents Native Americans."


The use of Indian names is not in itself demeaning, but honors our past. Consider: Indiana's Miami County is named after the Miami Indians. The Ohio River received its name from a Miami word: Oyom or Ohi. Kokomo was named for Chief Kokomoko of the Miamis. Mishawaka was the name of a Shawnee princess. Shipshewana was a Potawatomi chief who was forced to leave his homeland and move westward to Kansas in 1838.
A 2002 poll conducted by Sports Illustrated was revealing. Asked if high school and college teams should stop using Indian nicknames, 81 percent of American Indian respondents said no.
Let's not tell colleges to erase Indian names from their uniforms and banners. That's a copout. Let's insist that they reach agreement with the native peoples in their communities about what is respectful. Then let's teach the students at these schools about the rich histories of the tribes their teams commemorate.
 


Indianapolis Star


Mascot ban helps, but Indians face bigger issues
August 14, 2005

Johnny Flynn

So did Indiana's American Indians ring up the NCAA's headquarters last week, eager to praise that body's executive committee for its decision to ban Indian- related mascots and names from championship basketball games?

Did they invite National Collegiate Athletic Association President Myles Brand and his dozen committee members to a powwow?

Did they cheer?

Hardly.

In truth, the call has left plenty of Indians here angry, bitter and even more aware of their second-class status.

This is information non-Indians need to process -- especially if you are among those sports fans angry about being denied your Chief Illiniwek Indian security blanket or convinced that the politically correct police engineered this plot to spoil your fun.

Indians have a different perspective. And while this state's 38,700 American Indians do not speak with one voice, they share plenty of concerns.

First, the NCAA's decision did not go far enough, some said.

"It is a step in the right direction," said Noadiah Malott, Noblesville, a Cherokee and spokeswoman for the state's American Indian Council. The social group, made up mostly of mixed-race Indians, is planning a powwow next weekend in Lebanon.

Like others, she would like to see all offensive Indian mascots abolished at all sporting events.

She knows most non-Indians don't get it; friends have told her the mascots and names are a sign of respect.

That's not what Indians see when a white guy is dancing around, pretending to be Indian or acting stupid, she said.

"People don't understand the sacredness to us of what those mascots are wearing, the stories behind them and how we hold all that in esteem," she said.

Second, the NCAA's decision is a cruel and ironic reminder that in the very state named for their ancestors, Indiana's Indians do not have a place at the table.

"This is not just about mascots," said Debra Haza, Columbus, a member of the Little Traverse Bay Band of Odawa Indians. "It is about everything that pertains to Indians here."

Everything means jobs, health, education and cultural awareness.

The problem is not just keeping up, it's getting started.

The state's first and only Native American Indian Affairs Commission was barely up and crawling in 2004 when its chairman quit last winter, after five months.
Indian activists are eager for the governor to appoint new leadership.

Many Indians are struggling so hard to sustain a decent life that the mascot issue is almost trivial, suggested Bruce Brown, executive board chairman of the American Indian Center of Indiana. The federally funded agency, with offices in Indy and Peru, served 100 Indians last year.

Indians have higher rates of diabetes, alcoholism and tuberculosis than other races, said Brown, a member of the Sac and Fox tribe of central Iowa. Indiana has no health care center to serve federally recognized Indians. The closest is in Chicago.

As for education, Indiana gives lip service but no action, said Sally Tuttle, Kokomo, a member of the Choctaw Nation. Mixed-race American Indian kids in public school are not counted as Indians, she said. If they were, the state could get federal dollars to promote Indian education.

Still bent out of shape over the Indian mascot thing? Try a mile in someone else's shoes.


NCAA deserves applause for its ruling on nicknames

Bob Kravitz is a columnist for The Indianapolis Star.

August 10, 2005
 
"Good afternoon and welcome to the Jesus Dome, home of the Kokomo Fighting Christians, for today's important football game against the upstart Hebrews from Miami Beach.
"What a scene we have here, with 70,000 howling fans waving foam-rubber crucifixes. And there are the Christian Crazies in their usual priest regalia, and I'm guessing they started on the holy water early this morning.
"But don't rule out the Hebrews, who've been trying to reach the Promised Land for 40 years now. As usual, they'll be led onto the field by their lovable mascot, Moishe the Dancing Rabbi."
Offensive?
Good.
Hope you were offended. Hope you thought it was crass, insensitive, sacrilegious and downright rude.
And now I hope you have some idea how a Native American might feel when confronted by the sight of 60,000 people wearing a mock-Indian headdress and doing the insipid tomahawk chop.
I hope you have some idea how a Native American might feel when looking at the Cleveland Indians' Chief Wahoo -- the Steppin' Fetchit of the modern age.
I hope you have some idea how a Native American might feel when his or her history and culture and religion are misrepresented, when an entire race of people are defamed for the sports world's amusement.
And the Washington Redskins . . .
Intuitively, I always knew it was a vile, reprehensible, derogatory term for a Native American. It was no different than using the ugliest epithet we know for blacks, whites, Hispanics, whomever.
Then, after checking with sources, I found out it was even worse than I once thought.
The term, actually, is derived from our country's formative years, when trappers and bounty hungers were paid money for every dead Indian -- or as they called them, Redskins -- they delivered.
But, then, it's never a smart thing to look at that franchise for social enlightenment. Remember, the team in Washington was the last NFL team to integrate.
The next time you're ready to dismiss the NCAA's recent ruling on Indian nicknames as so much baloney, do this: Insert your own ethnicity or religion. How would Italians feel watching the Bayonne Mafioso? How would blacks feel seeing some Jim Crowe-era caricature of a black man on the jersey of the hometown team? How loud would a devout person scream when seeing sacred religious items being used like props in a game of dress-up?
Go ahead and sigh and say it's more tiresome political correctness.
I call it simple sensitivity.
And I applaud the NCAA.
While it's true that the Seminoles or Fighting Sioux names are far less inappropriate than Redskins, the bottom line is, educated and enlightened people cannot sit idly by as an entire race is mocked or diminished. Weren't the first 400-plus years of persecution enough?
I understand that certain schools, Florida State for example, have tried to do right by the true Seminoles of the region. And the FSU people are to be believed when they say they are attempting to honor the area's Indian heritage. But no matter how pure their intentions are, the concept itself is indefensible.
(And don't throw the Fighting Irish at me. That's one school and an entirely different kind of history. In this country, there are thousands of high schools and college with Indian nicknames. Although, happily, that number is dwindling.)
If you're still not buying, still pawning this off as more soft-hearted liberal drivel, do this:
Think of a Native American child, and see things through his or her prism. What does Chief Wahoo do for a child's self-esteem? When all those clowns are doing the tomahawk chop, how does it make you feel about your people's heritage and history? You are not a person. You are a plaything.
I would agree; you can get crazy with this whole thing.
In Denver, I can remember when one of the local columnists trashed the then-new hockey franchise for calling itself the Avalanche. He interviewed two avalanche survivors and said it was irresponsible and crass to use the nickname.
I'm sure somebody out there takes offense at Stanford's mascot, which happens to be a giant dancing tree. Somewhere, there's an ecologist who is concerned about deforestation, and is outraged.
This, though, is different. This is about people, an entire group of people who deserve the same respect as the rest of us. Just wear the other man's shoes. Put yourself in his place. How would you feel?
 


My View: Gregory A. Reinhardt
Stop perpetuating ridiculous stereotypes
Reinhardt is a professor and chair of anthropology at the University of Indianapolis and author of an upcoming book, "Picturing Indians."

August 9, 2005
 

The NCAA has said it's time to stop using American Indians as sports mascots in postseason play, and it couldn't be more right. Four years ago the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights recommended that public schools rid themselves of so-called "American Indian" mascots.
Why drop Indians as team symbols? The centuries-old American tradition of picturing phony "Indians" affects people across the globe. It perpetuates clichés and flashy tripe, endorses secondhand fallacies as reality, treats hurt feelings as trivial and dismisses authenticity and facts simply by asking, "What's the big deal, anyway?"
The big deal is what happens to American Indians, nearly all of whom bear their own version of "the white man's burden." This isn't the usual burden, that Euro-Americans shattered (and are thus responsible for) the lives of American Indians. Instead, this weight is on them. Through practices ranging from plain misperception to screaming racism, the baggage of American society presses down American Indians.
This burden co-opts, minimizes and disposes of hundreds of distinctive native cultures as curious but inconsequential, as if all American Indians share a single belief system, lifestyle and history. Far too frequently, Indians dissolve into cartoon figures wearing feathers and face paint.
Back to the question: "What's wrong with having Indian mascots?" We could ask similar questions about dressing up as "Indians" or holding "Indian pageants" at Thanksgiving or having powwows that lack Indian participation and support, or teaching children what we previously learned ourselves about Indians, much of it misinformed.

 



Banned: The Florida State Seminoles, represented by mascot Chief Osceola, are among the teams affected by the NCAA's ban.

Phil Sears / Associated Press

It's time we acknowledge and understand that Euro-Americans created these mostly ridiculous stereotypes. We also need to recognize how these images affected and reflected American life in years past, carry that conversation into the present, and challenge virtually all future depictions of American Indians.
Does this mean that Indians shouldn't portray themselves as they see fit? No, but even this question is touchy, and a quick glance at history reveals why. Indians from across the continent have reinvented themselves to please us. Old photos show how tribes have dressed up like tribes of the Great Plains. This Great Plains influence (beaded buckskin and feathered war bonnets) undoubtedly started with white America: We want to recognize all Indians easily, and many of them have accommodated us all too well.
It is completely up to Indians as to how they see and represent themselves. Euro-Americans should have zero say in this; it's not their place. The real concern is that pictures of Indians only cloud reality and continue casting them in tired, lame and trivial roles.
Even though perpetuating centuries of stereotypes is a magnificent way of shutting Indians out of contemporary life, most Euro-Americans still don't see the outrage. We make, sell and buy imaginary "Indians," thinking they are way cool. Let's hope we have begun to recognize that stereotyping them isn't cool.
Where are the American Indian protesters? Maybe most of them are preoccupied simply with subsisting. Maybe they're trying to keep their individual cultures and languages alive. Maybe they're too busy reeling from high rates of tuberculosis, alcoholism, unemployment, suicide and poverty. Or maybe they have yet to find a cohesive voice. It's high time that everyone in the United States finds better, more sincere and more respectful ways to present Indians to the rest of the world. That's why Indian mascots need to go away. Three cheers to the NCAA for saying as much.
 


Nickname policy goes too far afield

Indianapolis Star editorial

August 11, 2005
 
Our position is: Uses and misuses of Indian names and imagery were being resolved without NCAA dictate.
The NCAA has waded into an unnecessary controversy by ruling member schools will have to abandon "hostile" or "abusive" Indian nicknames, mascots, themes or logos when playing in NCAA tournaments.
As the case of the Florida State University Seminoles illustrates, the NCAA ruling begs the question of who is offended. And by what?
The Tribal Council of the Seminole Tribe of Florida has unanimously endorsed FSU's use of its name and related symbols. Jim Shore, the tribe's general counsel, told reporters he doesn't have a problem with any Indian-related mascots, adding, "We have bigger things on our agenda, like the health, education and housing of our own tribal members."
The NCAA has bigger things to do as well.
With that said, university administrators and alumni shouldn't waste much time fighting the NCAA's edict. Who now cares very much that the University of Massachusetts Minutemen were once the Redmen?
It also should be noted that while Florida Seminoles don't object to FSU's use of the name, a larger Oklahoma branch of the tribe does. The Oklahoma Seminoles also oppose FSU's tradition of having mascot Chief Osceola -- who in real life was captured under a flag of truce and beheaded by U.S. soldiers -- ride onto the football field dressed in war paint while fans do the "Seminole Chop."
But NCAA officials would have been wiser to let schools continue to deal with this matter on their own. It was slowly becoming a non-issue.
Since the National Council of American Indians launched its campaign in 1968 to address the use of stereotypes by athletic teams, many high school, college and professional teams have either dropped their Indian names, shown more respect for the imagery used or negotiated agreements with local tribes.
Where does the legislation of sensitivity end? Are the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and their leprechaun mascot demeaning to those of Irish ancestry? What about the Minnesota Vikings? Or, for that matter, Hurryin' Hoosiers, a name whose origins are probably every bit as offensive as the terms cracker, hill jack or redneck?
 


Rest assured: Some are offended when Indians are used as mascots
Guest Column

Bloomington Herald Times

September 1, 2005
This guest column was written by Steve Russell, who is an enrolled Cherokee
citizen and associate professor of criminal justice at Indiana University.

I hate being called "Chief" by clueless people and I still feel a rush of anger
when I see fake eagle feathers brandished by people who have no idea what they
signify - understanding all that keeps real eagle feathers safe is the
Endangered Species Act. One opinion column, two letters to the editor, and now
an editorial and I've got déjà vu all over again.

The letters could perhaps be ignored as clamor of the ignorati, particularly
the claim that Indians had anything to do with coining the term "Native
American." We don't call ourselves "Native American" except in organization
titles where the acronym works better than it would with an I. We call
ourselves by our tribal names and Indians collectively, not because we don't
understand Columbus' mistake but just out of habit. Any Indian who is offended
by the choice of either "Indian" or "Native American" is just looking for a
reason to be offended.

In the case of mascots, we don't need to look for reasons. Our children are the
least successful ethnic group in every level of education. Our children have
the highest suicide rate of any ethnic group. Whether being mocked and
stereotyped makes it worse could be debated, but there is no question that
mascots don't make it better. I myself am a high school dropout, made to
believe Indians could not do formal education.

Ask the people who have felt the sting.

But wait; didn't Andrea Neal of the Indiana Policy Review Foundation tout a
Sports Illustrated poll (of 351 self-identified Native Americans) that said
Indians don't care? And what about the subsequent Annenberg Public Policy
Center poll that showed the same thing?

Annenberg, too, sampled "self-identified Native Americans" (768 of them), a
term which includes plenty of people who have nothing to do with Indians.
Annenberg systematically oversampled in states with no federally recognized
Indian tribes and undersampled states with large reservations or urban Indian
populations.

Sampling methodology. Who cares? What would most African-Americans have told a
pollster about Sambo's Restaurant or Aunt Jemima before her makeover? What
would most Hispanics have told an English-speaking pollster about the late
Frito Bandido? Who cares? The argument that nobody is offended is plainly
bogus, and PC - meaning Plain Courtesy - is not something to be put up for a
vote.

When the NCAA acted, the Seminole Tribe of Florida (population circa 2,600) had
endorsed Florida State University's mascot, while the Seminole Tribe of
Oklahoma (population circa 12,000) had not. FSU Trustee Richard McFarlain
responded, "I could care less what the Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma thinks. They
should take care of their own problems. They're in Oklahoma. They got run out
of here by, who was it, Andrew Jackson? The real Seminoles stayed here."

These remarks do not bode well for history teaching at FSU. However, McFarlain
caught a break recently when a motion to denounce the FSU mascot failed in the
Oklahoma Seminole Tribal Council. A motion to endorse did not follow but, once
more, who cares? I expect a close look at the many Ojibwe ("Chippewa") bands
would yield similar stories, but when did human decency become a subject for
referendum?

I keep going back to what our children are told about themselves, what I was
told about myself, and I wonder at people who will exert themselves to justify
sending the same negative messages to another generation of Indian - and non-
Indian - children. When I teach a course at IU called American Indian Justice
Policy I am confronted every semester with the results of stereotyping. Even
schools that do not indulge in racist caricatures like Wahoo or Illiniwek have
no control over their opponents' actions.

As for the FSU Seminoles, I can't improve on the words of Suzan Shown Harjo,
plaintiff in the lawsuit to cancel the racially derogatory trademark of the
Washington football team: "It is shameful that the mighty Osceola is portrayed
as a mascot. He is represented with fakey 'war paint,' which he never wore; on
an Appaloosa horse, which he never rode; with a Plains Indian war lance, which
he never used; acting the fool, which he never was; and performing for non-
Indians - which he never, ever did."

Non-Indians don't mock Indians because it's right, but because less than 1
percent of the U.S. population cannot yet stop them. You live on our land; you
keep our dead in your museums; and now, you want to control our public image to
make us the painted clowns of John Wayne movies. Expect a fight.

 


Letters and Online Chat from the Indianapolis Star

Indians' opinions are the ones that matter

Whose opinion on this issue matters most: American Indians' or everyone else's? From what I have read, the Florida Seminole tribe is not the only one in America but is the only one to condone Florida State University's portrayal. When thinking of other ethnic uses such as the Boston Celtics or the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, these organizations were started by that ethnic group. Historically, Irish, Italian, German and Russian groups have been outgoing in showing their cultural pride. As far as I can tell, none of the schools in question, as well as the Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks and Washington Redskins, were started or are currently supervised by any American Indians. These mascots and school images are a white man's view of American Indians. The NCAA is doing the right thing.

Stacey Duggan

Bloomington

Indian roots everywhere

The NCAA has stuck its toe into the politically correct pool with the recent decision to ban school nicknames and mascots that it, not American Indians, has deemed offensive. Surely, it recognizes the hypocrisy of banning the use of any name associated with American Indian and remaining in Indian-apolis or Indian-a.

A move to Chicago might be acceptable, but wait, that's in Illinois -- can't go there, either. Only 28 state names are not derived from Indian origin. A search of city names in those states will need to be conducted to ensure that none are offensive. Then we need to research river and street names.

And why are they only concerned with offending American Indians? Surely there are some people of Irish descent that are offended by Notre Dame and the Fighting Irish. Shouldn't the NCAA check in with PETA? Don't those Georgia Bulldogs need someone protecting them, too? I'm shocked the NCAA neglected all of the religious groups that must be outraged with the dastardly Blue Devils in North Carolina.

Joe DeMartino

Carmel

The NCAA banned the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments, but will not prohibit them otherwise.
Is this an appropriate issue for the NCAA to rule on?

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  #2  

Old4 Days Ago

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


Why not just take the "scholar athletes" out of the schools instead? I mean, no one seriously thinks thery're there for an education.

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


This is just another example of the NCAA overstepping their power. They are so far out of touch with reality it is hurting college athletics and they are making themselves look foolish. If the rules governing athletics werent enough now this. What will be the next step, will they remove the name Hoosiers and Fighting Irish. I think it is a good thing that Miles Brand is president, this way they have a perfect leader to go along with their insane policies.

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AngryRe: NCAA's mascot ruling


To put it mildly, the NCAA has again stepped over the boundry. Colleges and universities are way too much into PC foolishness (political correctness) and not far enough into "Real Education"! As a manager, I hire college graduates who can't spell, let alone write business letter. First Things First!!

Chief Illini is a Great symbol of not only Illinois University but of Native Americans and is in no way degrading to anyone with their head on straight. Get a Life!!!

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Old4 Days Ago

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Thumbs downRe: NCAA's mascot ruling


Haven't we had enough with all the "PC" crap!!

"PC" and the term "offended" is nothing more than the desire by liberals and academia to impose their views of morality on others.

But it has nothing to do with right and wrong. It's all "feel good" ideology and it is nothing more than an attempt to hijack freedom of thought and speech in a free society by the modern "Thought Police". Of course they think they know more than freedom loving Americans.

Shame on the NCAA as it continues to cave in to PC thought and liberal thinking as model of good human behavior.

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  #6  

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


If the representation of Native Americans was belittling or demeaning they should intercede. Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the Seminole tribe of Florida recently release a public statement praising Florida State for helping keep the Seminoles in the public eye? I also believe the University of Illinois' symbol of the Chief with the full head dress is tastefully done and portrays the tribe the state of Illinois is named after in a graceful and regal manner. These examples make the NCAA look a little foolish IMO.

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


I am waiting for the NFL to ban the patriots name because my ancestors who were patriots were not a bunch of obnoxious drunks. While they are at it, they can ban the Fighting Irish, because that is derogatory to natives of Ireland and ban iu's nickname because their football team is an embarrassment to Hoosiers.

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AngryRe: NCAA's mascot ruling


No, of course not!! The whole issue is way beyond ludicrous! What trivial nonsense this is...making an issue of the mascot names of high school and college athletic teams. Good Grief, people, get a grip and concern yourselves with some of the REAL problems in today's world!!

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


I think that this is a very positive step for the NCAA to take. There remains, however, much to be discussed about what is appropriate, and what is not. In my mind, this is something that should be done in consultation with American Indian groups in the college's region or state. There may be some colleges with a significant American Indian student populations that would like to have a name or mascot related of the local tribes representing the university. But in general, I think that the end is near for American Indian-"inspired" mascots. There is nothing respectful or honorable about using these terms, no matter what some might argue. If they want to truly honor American Indians from that area, why not establish or expand language revitalization programs, American Indian studies courses, or scholarships for American Indian students? Why not devote the same energy to hiring more American Indian faculty, or recruiting and keeping more American Indian students? Students, alumni and sports fans who stubbornly oppose these changes should reevaluate the purpose of a university, and look for better ways to "honor" American Indians.

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Thumbs downRe: NCAA's mascot ruling


I am concerned about the NCAA's ruling on mascots. First, because there doesn't seem to be concrete guidelines as to what determines the material to be offensive. If there are, they were not reported.

For instance, Illinois was mentioned, but I see the mascot Illini and the chief mascot as an honorary naming. I don't see why that is offensive to anyone. I guess I can see why Redmen or Redskins may be offensive, but naming a team after a particular tribe whose heritages are intertwined?

It seems to me that the NCAA is bowing to pressures that really aren't there.

I'm Nordic and I take offense to the Viking mascots. It puts us in a bad light.

I'm also a bearcat and I want you to know that we are not as vicious as we are portrayed.

Pretty soon all mascots will be vegetables so we don't offend anyone except the carrots.

Three cheers for the I.U. Garlics!!!

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


This is crazy. The NCAA is so worried about the trendy American Indian stereotypes, yet totally ignore another sterotype of note. I will think the NCAA is serious about sterotyping of groups when they tell Notre Dame to drop the leprechaun and change the name from the Fighting Irish. And that will NEVER happen.

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


Why should we expect the NCAA to stop with potentially offensive indian nicknames and mascots? Following the logic of the NCAA, what about the Oklahoma State Cowboys? Isn't this nickname/mascot potentially offensive to ranchers? What about the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame? Isn't this nickname/mascot potentially offensive to those of Irish descent? Eventually, will all schools be required to follow the lead of the Stanford Cardinal and select a color as the school nickname/mascot? On the positive side, if the NCAA has time to devote to this issue, then there must not be any major items on the docket.

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


I honestly do not understand the "sensitivity" at work here. I'm part Cherokee Indian, and proud to say so. I do not find these nicknames or mascots offensive, even the ones which have already changed. (I even grew up a Cleveland Indians fan, and I also find the logo on their ballcap to be much more intricate than many other teams.)

Obviously there are people out there who don't agree with me, and probably never will. I happen to feel that if the worst thing that happens to me is feeling offended by a college mascot, I've had a pretty good day.

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


The multicultural group stresses inclusion of ethnic diferences. The politically correctness group stresses the inclussion of being nice to others and not critical of differing cultures. Mr. Brand, infamous for his handling of Indiana University debacle, now says groups (schools) cannot determine how that school can identify itself by nicknmes, mascots, logos. The NCAA, by extension, will determine what constitutes acceptable coaching staffs, distribution of tickets based on ethnicity, control speech of Universities, assure racial mix of teams, freeze terms newspapers and newscasters can use in describing games and other transactions.
The NCAA and Mr. Brand demands compliance to their version of multiculturism which by itself is repugnant.

Leftcoast

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Re: NCAA's mascot ruling


There is a deeper issue here than just the NCAA ruling, since the question has more than one facet. Consider the following two tests:

1. Are “Indian” mascots appropriate for sports teams?
2. Are “Indians” offended by these mascots?

The first test seems objective while the second test appears subjective.

Objectively, it would be difficult to argue that the various “Indian” mascots (Braves, Chiefs, Redskins, etc.) are inappropriate mascots but that warrior classes or social castes of other cultures are somehow acceptable. Where are the outraged descendants of Knights, Fighting Irish, Generals, Saxons, Musketeers, Celtics, and Pioneers? Why don’t they feel as victimized as the “Indians” feel? Is it because the student bodies in question are primarily NOT “Indian” themselves? I wonder if white people would be offended if a primarily “Indian” school’s mascot was a Pirate, a Saxon or a Boilermaker. Somehow, I doubt it, so the objective case for banning “Indian” names seems weak.

Having said that, we must also look beyond the obvious to consider the perspectives of those who are offended. A good example is the Civil War era Confederate battle flag. It might pass the first test; it is simply a military pennant used in battle. However, if it were part of a school’s uniform, who could doubt that African-Americans would be justifiably offended at its racist symbolism?

Applying the subjective test therefore shines light on the deeper issue; any time members of a group suffer indignation for the amusement of non-members, the cause of the injury should be removed. This is good for the group and, in the long run, for our multicultural society.

In short, I have yet to hear a credible explanation as to why Chiefs or Warriors are insulting or offensive sports mascots. But I have heard that groups do find them to be such, and this is enough for me.

 Other random editorials from around the country

Lincoln adopts new policy on Native mascots and nicknames

Lee editors and newsroom staffs -- especially those in areas with significant Native American populations and history -- would do well to take a fresh look at the usage of Native mascots and nicknames in sports and other coverage.

The Lincoln Journal Star recently announced a change in its policy, thoughtfully considered after the Native American Journalists Association called on news organizations to adopt restrictions by 2004.

Kathy Rutledge, editor in Lincoln, asked Sports Editor John Mabry and News Editor Jim Johnson, a NAJA member, to develop a recommendation. After researching the issue, gathering readers' views and organizing a staff discussion, they recommended a change, as Kathy explains in the column below.

This type of decision often engenders more debate in the newsroom than it does among most of the public -- but you'll find those with an opinion quite willing to share it.

Typically, those against any change think it's silly for the paper to ignore reality -- if a team at the professional, college or high school level goes by a certain moniker, then so be it. They should be free to choose and our job is to report on reality, not fall into a trap of being politically correct.

Kathy makes a strong argument to the contrary below.

Officially, it's up to each Lee newspaper to adopt its own position on this issue -- and I'd urge you to take a serious look at it this year in advance of NAJA's recommended deadline.

-- David Stoeffler

KATHLEEN RUTLEDGE: Respectfully, we'll call that team 'Washington'

Readers of the sports pages may notice a change in the newspaper's style beginning today: We have stopped using the nickname "Redskins" to refer to the professional football team of the nation's capital. When we're reporting on that team, we'll call it Washington.

We also have stopped printing logos for professional and college sports teams that use Native symbols -- ones that adopt imagery such as an arrowhead and ones that caricature Native culture. The Chief Wahoo logo of the Cleveland Indians, which we stopped using last summer, is an example of rank caricature. Instead, we'll use alternative logos that stay away from Native symbols.

Finally, we've decided to drop the stereotypical modifier "Fighting" when used with team nicknames such as Fighting Sioux or Fighting Illini.

We've made this decision out of respect for Native people. Plain and simple.

We will no longer use "Redskins" or "Skins" because it is a racial slur. It derives from an old, genocidal practice in this country of scalping Indians to earn a bounty. A bounty hunter could prove he had killed an Indian by turning in a scalp. The bloody scalps were called "redskins." I learned this from the Portland Press Herald in Maine, which banned "Redskins" from its sports pages in July 2000.

What about Native people who proudly wear "Redskins" caps and shirts? That's their choice, just as it is the choice of other sports fans to emblazon the name across their chests, some in the professed belief that it honors Native people.

I choose to credit the words of a Lakota man who recalled that he wore a "Redskins" T-shirt as a boy. He thought it was cool. When he was older, when he heard fans "woo-wooing," he saw things differently. "I felt like a cardboard cutout, a cartoon,'' he said.

Last year, the Native American Journalists Association called on news organizations to stop using sports mascots and nicknames that depict Native Americans by 2004.

I asked Sports Editor John Mabry and News Editor Jim Johnson, a NAJA member, to lead our inquiry on this topic. They researched the question, put together a packet of materials that included readers' views, and arranged for newsroom staffers to get together to talk it over. The two made a recommendation and I have accepted it.

Many sports mascots were adopted at a time in this country when Native people had no voice. Now they have a voice.

Some newspapers have already heeded that voice. The Minneapolis Star Tribune banned the use of all Native team names and mascots in 1994. The Oregonian, the St. Cloud (Minn.) Times, the Portland Press Herald and the Kansas City Star limit publication of Native mascots and images in varying ways.

Today, the Lincoln Journal Star joins their ranks. Out of respect for Native people. Pure and simple.


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