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
Kill The Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Jacqueline Keeler: Racist name haunts urban Indian community

Filed Under: Opinion
More on: baseball, illinois, jacqueline keeler, mascots, racism, urban indians
     


Jacqueline Keeler shares what it was like growing up with a racist Indian mascot in Cleveland, Illinois:
I am a Cleveland Indian.

No — I’m not referring to that grotesque caricature, “Chief Wahoo,” the Cleveland Indians baseball team uses as its mascot. What I mean is that I was born in Cleveland — a child of U.S. Relocation and Termination policies meant to make native American tribes disappear. The purported goal of these Termination-era congressional laws and resolutions was to “liberate Indians” from the wardship of the U.S. government. But what they did, in fact, was eliminate tribes’ federally recognized status, sovereignty, and force the sell-off of tribal assets and land. These policies also led to the loss of a generation of young people to urban centers — many of whom, like my parents, never returned home.

A recent tweet by a Cleveland blog called “Cleveland Frowns” went viral and made me think again of what it means to be a “Cleveland Indian.” The tweet featured a photo of a Cleveland Indians baseball fan, Pedro Rodriguez, his face painted red like Chief Wahoo, wearing a cheap, feathered headdress. He is, in this clownish approximation of an American Indian, attempting to speak to an actual American Indian, Robert Roche, a Chiricahua Apache and executive director of the American Indian Education Center in Cleveland. The image was quickly paired with an eerily similar 2002 cartoon showing a fan in redface saying, “But I’m HONORING you dude!” to a Native American man. And in fact, Rodriguez’s interaction with Roche apparently went much the same way. (Roche, a longtime leader in the Native American community and elder who has been protesting Chief Wahoo for 45 years, stated that he “did not feel honored” by the costume.)

The parallels between the cartoon and real life even led the cartoonist, Lalo Alcaraz, to wonder: “Am I a prophet? A time-traveling cartoonist?”

I am often ashamed of my birthplace, Cleveland, as — let’s face it — its name does not connote class, progress, or future forward thinking, and instead recalls images of Lake Erie oil slicks burning smokily in Rust Belt despair. T.S. Eliot’s “Wasteland” comes to mind. And despite Cleveland Indians fans’ claims to “Cleveland Pride,” it is difficult for me to call myself a “Cleveland Indian,” when Chief Wahoo vies for the title as well. Seeing that image of Rodriguez in grotesque redface made me want to counter the stereotypes fueled by the mascot that still have such a strong hold on the minds of Clevelanders like him and to remind America what being a “Cleveland Indian” meant to my parents and their generation.

Get the Story:
Jacqueline Keeler: My life as a Cleveland Indian: The enduring disgrace of racist sports mascots (Slate 4/13)

Related Stories:
Lalo Alcaraz: 2002 cartoon foretold 'Chief Wahoo' confrontation (4/9)
Opinion: New movement takes 'Chief Wahoo' out of team's gear (04/03)
Activists to rally against 'Chief Wahoo' mascot at opening game (4/2)
Cynthia Connolly: Time to banish Chief Wahoo and other mascots (3/31)
Opinion: What will you do after Cleveland 'Indian' mascot dies? (3/10)
Editorial: Cleveland baseball team should retire 'Chief' mascot (02/28)
Cleveland baseball team asking for opinions on 'Chief Wahoo' (10/24)


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:
Tribal Tribune: Unity at Standing Rock Sioux Tribe's #NoDAPL camp (8/26)
Dakota Access Pipeline lacks key approval to build by reservation (8/26)
Lummi Nation sends totem pole to sacred camp in North Dakota (8/26)
Winona LaDuke: Corporate interests come to destroy our mother (8/26)
Sarah Sunshine Manning: Pipeline campaign awakens our people (8/26)
Ho-Chunk citizen Sharice Davids named as a White House Fellow (8/26)
Leech Lake Band celebrates groundbreaking for new high school (8/26)
Mark Trahant: Native candidates face voters in Arizona primary (8/26)
Native Sun News: Mother charged in beating death of 2-year-old (8/26)
Lakota Country Times: Oglala veteran pushed for Black Elk Peak (8/26)
Jeffrey Whalen: Oglala Sioux Tribe continues to get nothing done (8/26)
Leon Matthews: Off The Rez Ramblings heads back to Pine Ridge (8/26)
Erica Pinto: Jamul Indian Village planning to debut casino 'soon' (8/26)
Harold Monteau: Tribal lending industry facing major challenges (8/26)
Winnebago Tribe becomes first with non-smoking room at casino (8/26)
Tlingit and Haida Tribes win federal approval of gaming ordinance (8/26)
Poarch Creeks won't see Class III gaming after lottery effort fails (8/26)
Dave Archambault: Why the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is fighting (8/25)
Sen. Bernie Sanders joining opposition to Dakota Access Pipeline (8/25)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe chair dispels rumors about camp site (8/25)
Native Sun News: Thousands join pipeline resistance movement (8/25)
Lakota Country Times: Bill honors memory of Cheyenne woman (8/25)
John Yellow Bird Steele: A giant step forward with Black Elk Peak (8/25)
Dina Gilio-Whitaker: There's more than one path to reconciliation (8/25)
Spokane Tribe hit hard as blaze destroys homes on reservation (8/25)
Hopi Tribe struggling to address high levels of arsenic in water (8/25)
Osage Nation celebrates $74M purchase of ancestral territory (8/25)
Former Navajo Nation lawmakers sentenced over fund misuse (8/25)
Ute Tribe remains busy in court with appeal in contract dispute (8/25)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe hails bid to reconsider casino ruling (8/25)
Twenty-Nine Palms Band considers expansion project at casino (8/25)
Grand Traverse Band shares gaming funds with local community (8/25)
Standing Rock Sioux Tribe sees strong support at pipeline hearing (8/24)
Judge takes aim at Ute Tribe after being kicked off sovereignty suit (8/24)
Lakota Country Times: County seeks compensation for trust lands (8/24)
Native Sun News: Sage remains a special plant for Native peoples (8/24)
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.