Time To Change With Time
“Change starts when someone sees the next step.”
Native Americans are trying to take that next step. For the past 100 years Americans have stolen their sacred names and used them for mascots of high school, college, and professional sports teams. The National Education Association is one of the first to step to the plate by passing, Article I-41, which advises use of Prejudicial Terms and Symbols “The National Education Association deplores prejudice based on race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, age, disability, size, marital status, or economic status and rejects the use of names, symbols, caricatures, emblems, logos, and mascots that promote such prejudice. (92,94)” By having these practices they believe the rights of Native Americans are protected. Native American Mascots in sports need to change to protect and uphold the rights that are granted to them from the constitution.
If we started all over before any names were made and altered these names towards other races how would people react? Lets take the Cleveland Indians for example. What would happen if we had used the Jews, Blacks or Chinese as this political cartoon suggests. Every race involved would have been in an uproar when the caricature came out. They would feel that their constitutional rights were being ignored. But, when “Chief Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians, runs about drunkenly at baseball games”1 they feel that it is ok to disregards the Indian name, heritage, and ritual. Taking in the psychological considerations for the Native Americans “dehumanization, as the word implies, is a psychological process that reduces a person or group to a sub-human level. One way in which this process is deployed is by suggesting the subject of the dehumanization is like an animal. Because animals of various types and “Indians” related mascots are those most frequently used, it can be observed that this practice places Native Peoples on a par with wild beasts.”2 The people or person who decided to use the name the Indians was not thinking of the long-term controversy it was going to cause. “As a group of professional mental health providers, we are in agreement that using images of American Indians as mascots?is damaging to the self-identity, self-concept and self-esteem of our people.” These names might seem powerful and forceful but in the long run they have put a culture down and made the fell less of a person. Not only using the name of Indian is wrong but using Redskin is also degrading.
The Washington Redskins have used the name “redskins” for the last 67 years, and maybe the sports fans have just been accustom to the word. Maybe they should just learn what the word means. Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines the word redskins in the following manner: “American Indian, usually taken to be offensive.” The word originated in the 1600’s when bounty hunters exchanged the dead bodies of Native women, children and men for money. Since the bodies were too much trouble to transport, the bounty hunters started skinning their victims and exchanging the skins for money. Thus the term redskins were invented. “The unified voice of American Indians has been effective. Most recently, a federal trademark panel ruled to revoke the Washington Redskins’ federal trademark protection, because the trademark was considered “disparaging” to the American Indian people?”3 When the Redskins have to change their name maybe they will think about the Yellowskins. Since most of the population is Caucasian why couldn’t we have the name changed. If we have been using the Redskins, which degrade the American Indians, while we don’t think so, why shouldn’t we use the Washington Yellowskins? This change would not only cause uproar in society, but may even cause a major boycott. But why should this change of name cause a boycott? Because Americans only care about one person and that is themselves. Americans believe in protecting their own constitutional and or civil rights, not to help smaller minorities. Lame Deer hits the nail on the head when he states” Desire killed that man, as desire has killed many before and after him. If this earth should ever be destroyed, it will be by desire, by lust of pleasure and self-gratification, by greed.” The earth that is going to be destroyed is the Indian culture while Americans sit on the side watching the slow and painful death. The desire will be the deaf ears the complaints are falling upon. And the lust of pleasure and self-gratification will be the not allowing the mascot to change, because the new mascot might not bring as much power or fear to the opponent. And the greed finishes it off with the demise of one culture to benefit with money and not thinking about another’s beliefs. “Native people are saying that they don’t feel honored by this symbolism. We experience it as no less than mockery of our cultures. We see objects sacred to us- such as the drum, eagle feathers, face painting and traditional dress – being used, not in sacred ceremony, or in any culture setting, but in another’s game.” The Atlanta Braves are also causing controversy within the Native American community.
Hank Aaron, a hall of fame, ex-professional baseball player, states “if the name “Braves” that he wore on his chest for decades was hurtful to many Native Americans, then it should be changed.” After that statement Aaron became one of the first show a clear position on the issue at hand. The Braves a team that uses the tomahawk chop to rally their team have made one change that may put some angry native Americans at rest. A few years ago Atlanta changed their jersey from saying Braves to Atlanta. “IT is not an honor to see white and black sports fans, faces painted in hideous fashion, swilling beer, making chants they learned from Grade B movies, chopping the air in a sign known as the “tomahawk chop,” a sign that means kill and maim, thinking that it is a good thing. It is not an honor.” Tim Giago clearly expresses his view on the Atlanta Braves tomahawk chop. Americans many not understand what message they are relaying while doing this chop, but that still gives them no right to use the name of a Native American Indian name.
“Washington Redskins, Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves — Indian mascots and nicknames have historically been first draft picks in American sports. But for Charlene Teters, a Spokane Indian, transplanting cultural rituals onto the court is a symbol of disrespect. Jay Rosenstein follows Teters’ evolution from mother and student into a leading voice against the merchandising of Native American sacred symbols — and shows the lengths to which fans will go to preserve their mascots.” In keeping all the Native American Mascots in schools, colleges, and professional sports teams we are showing a lack of respect. The Native Americans have voiced the lack of honor these names are bringing to them. “The fact that history has ignored the incredible pain we have inflicted on Native Americans does not now give us the right to ignore their largely muted call.” Americans need to take a step back think about how they would feel if there ritual and or sacred tradition was misused. “We feel that we are being put in a position of sacrificing our dignity and pride and will never be treated as equals in white society as long as the use of Indian symbols continues.”