indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Fredericks Peebles & Morgan LLP
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Doug George-Kanentiio: A Mohawk's perspective on 'Redskins'

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: doug george-kanentiio, mascots, mohawk, new york
     

The following was submitted to the Cooperstown Central School District in New York.

I extend my greetings to the residents of the Cooperstown Central School District and congratulations to the community for their willingness to discuss this sensitive topic. As much as it may be of concern to the people there it is equally of importance to those Native people who once called the region their home.

I am a descendent of the aboriginal inhabitants of the Cooperstown area. A distinct Mohawk presence can be traced back hundreds of years prior to European contact. The Mohawks have three clans: Bear, Wolf and Turtle, each one of which had their own territory. Cooperstown was once the homeland of the Turtle Clan people and, in accordance with our customs, the land was protected and cultivated by the women of that clan. No decision regarding the usage of the land in any way could be made without the knowledge and approval of the female citizens of the Mohawk Nation.

There was a time when the Mohawks sought to share the land with the refugees from Europe. In 1710 we sent a delegation to England to escort a group of Germans from the Palatine region to our territory. Our wish was to live in peace with the Europeans and to learn from them. We set aside land in the Cooperstown-Schoharie area for them to build their homes. We never ceded jurisdiction but allowed the settlers to use our resources to raise their families and build new communities.

These grateful colonists saw us as friends and not savages, as human beings and not pesky redskins. We taught them to survive in the New World and went so far as to encourage our children to intermarry. To this day we carry the names of those who came to us from Germany and later Scotland, Ireland and England.

That era of peace was broken during the American Revolution when the Mohawk Nation held true to its treaty obligations to Britain. We were promised that our lands would be protected against trespass or illegal sale. Many of the colonists joined us in this battle among brothers. The result was that we were driven from our homes and compelled to seek refuge in Upper Canada and along the St. Lawrence River. As before, we made land available to those who were loyal to the Crown and continued to live in peace and mutual respect.

Altogether, the Mohawk Nation lost over 9,000,000 acres of land, an area which includes Cooperstown and all of the Adirondacks. This was done without our consent. In order to rationalize the theft of the land falsehoods were created which de-humanized our people. We were no longer friends but demons. We were labeled as savages and cannibals, warlike primitives without intellect. Among the most tragic of profanes were those books used in schools, which grossly distorted our history and passed on terrible lies about us.

The use of “redskins” was among the worse of these labels. That word originally referred to the Beothuks of Newfoundland, a peaceful people who colored their skin with red ochre as adornment and to keep the mosquitoes at bay. Their passivity was mistaken for weakness and after the waves of European diseases killed most of them those who survived were hunted and murdered for sport. By 1830 they were extinct. One of the reprehensible tactics was to remove the skins of the Beothuks and use them as covers for books and as leggings for the hunters.

This act of skinning Native people, both men and women, continued on along the frontier. It was an act of terror meant to instill fear and drive the Natives from coveted lands. It was justified by these stereotypes that were highly effective in undermining the dignity, pride and self-assurance of our people. We are, among all peoples in this hemisphere, the most misunderstood, the most libeled and the most despised because of the lies in the media, in popular literature and, sadly, in the schools.

I am an individual who has been deeply involved in the effort to remove these images. I have worked with schools, educators, politicians and the media. I initiated the action to bring an end to the Saltine Warrior at Syracuse University. I met with the New York Education Chancellor Thomas Sobel to introduce a new and creative curriculum in state schools. I have enlightened journalists and authors as to who we are as Native people. All this was meant to strive for the truth while enhancing the American public’s appreciation for their aboriginal heritage.

My appeal to the residents of Cooperstown is to remove that which stands it the way of our peoples. I ask that we work in harmony to do what is surely best for the students of your district. This coming May 25-26 there will be a Native American celebration at the Fenimore House. I ask that your students attend to listen to our music, hear our lectures and see our art. I ask that there be an annual Mohawk-Iroquois day in which our presenters can visit your classes, hold assemblies and make direct person-to-person contact. I ask that you review the resource material I have enclosed so the students and teachers may come to understand the wonderful contributions our ancestors have made to the United States and to the world.

We have before us an opportunity to remove the embarrassment Cooperstown students feel when they are asked about the mascot. Let no one believe that the mascot is somehow an “honour” to the Mohawk people. It is a deliberate humiliation which no other ethnic group would tolerate.

As a citizen of the Mohawk Nation I ask your district to do the American thing by showing a willingness to do what you all know in your hearts is right, kind, fair and just.

Submitted February 6, 2013

Doug George-Kanentiio, Akwesasne Mohawk, is a co-founder of the Native American Journalists Association, a former member of the Board of Trustees for the National Museum of the American Indian and the author of many books and articles about Native history and current issues. His latest book is "Iroquois on Fire". He may be reached via e-mail: Kanentiioaol.com. Kanentiio resides on Oneida Iroquois Territory in central New York State.

Related Stories:
Doug George-Kanentiio: Mohawks drawn into U.S.-British war (2/6)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Natives are at point of outrage in Canada (1/7)
Doug George-Kanentiio: 1794 Canandaigua treaty is renewed (11/14)
Doug George-Kanentiio: The canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha (10/23)
Doug George-Kanentiio: Another outrageous land claims ruling (10/12)


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Judge won't rush ruling on Dakota Access easement amid change (12/9)
Mark Trahant: Trump's pick for Interior poses problems for tribes (12/9)
Lakota Country Times: Rosebud housing program wins top award (12/9)
Native Sun News Today: More tribal citizens sign up for Medicaid (12/9)
Elizabeth Cook-Lynn: Maybe we can learn from our tragic history (12/9)
Brandon Ecoffey: Reservation basketball coaches deserve better (12/9)
Mike Myers: What Trump's election means for indigenous nations (12/9)
Caleb Trotter: New law in Oklahoma hurts legitimate Indian artists (12/9)
Gun Lake Tribe shares nearly $5.8M in gaming revenue in Michigan (12/9)
Little River Band payment puts gaming revenue sharing at $32.1M (12/9)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe files notice of appeal in casino lawsuit (12/9)
Bureau of Indian Affairs opens door to big shift in tribal economies (12/8)
Tribes promise fight against Dakota Access ahead of court hearing (12/8)
Tribes bringing #NoDAPL battle to international human rights forum (12/8)
Dakota Access Pipeline disputes small fine for disturbing tribal site (12/8)
Harold Frazier: 'Wopila tanka' to all the #NoDAPL water protectors (12/8)
Native Sun News Today: Temporary win on Dakota Access Pipeline (12/8)
Lakota Country Times: Arrests made in fatal Pine Ridge shootings (12/8)
Native Sun News Today Editorial: A bumpy ride with Donald Trump (12/8)
Delphine Red Shirt: We must step up and take care of our children (12/8)
James Giago Davies: Obama could have stopped #NoDAPL abuses (12/8)
Steven Newcomb: 'Unjust' war against #NoDAPL water protectors (12/8)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community starts work on casino upgrades (12/8)
Seminole Tribe still shares gaming revenue despite lack of compact (12/8)
Chukchansi Tribe finally distributes $1.4M in overdue gaming funds (12/8)
Tribal sovereignty foe slated to join Donald Trump's administration (12/7)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin denies speculation of 'privatizing' tribal land (12/7)
Sen. Barrasso passing on gavel at Senate Indian Affairs Committee (12/7)
North Dakota county wants 'Sheriff Kirchmeier' account off Twitter (12/7)
Indian Health Service plans to award $1.4M in Native youth grants (12/7)
Rosalyn R. LaPier: How Standing Rock became a site of pilgrimage (12/7)
Lakota Country Times: North Dakota county sheriff hit with lawsuit (12/7)
Vi Waln: The #NoDAPL movement reminds them we are still here (12/7)
Native Sun News Today: Lakota artist designs 'Water is Life' tipi (12/7)
Ivan Star Comes Out: The lust for oil and the #NoDAPL movement (12/7)
Common Dreams: Veterans ask for forgiveness at Standing Rock (12/7)
Tiffany Midge: Don't shame Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for pipeline (12/7)
Editorial: A 'false victory' on the Dakota Access Pipeline easement (12/7)
Nick Zaiac: Let tribes decide what to do with their own homelands (12/7)
Redding Rancheria 'excited' about bid to move casino to new site (12/7)
Aquinnah Wampanoag Tribe defends right to use land for gaming (12/7)
Dakota Access resumes push to complete final portion of pipeline (12/6)
Dave Archambault: It's time for water protectors to return home (12/6)
Kirk Francis: Tribes must remain vigilant despite #NoDAPL victory (12/6)
Tracy Loeffelholz Dunn: Numbers behind Standing Rock's victory (12/6)
Supreme Court schedules oral argument in tribal immunity case (12/6)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.