Opinion: No honor in use of Indians as mascots

"What, you may ask, is the big deal anyway? Briefly, American Indians object to seeing their culture trivialized and used for fun and games, they object to their spirituality and iconography being misused (the feather, the paint, the fire), and they object to being rendered one-dimensional and frozen in a 100-year-old Hollywood myth.

What ‘honor’ shown?

When schools retort that they are “honoring Indians,” American Indians ask how it can be an honor when the schools rarely, if ever, study or address current Indian issues of sovereignty, treaty rights, health and education? Why would a school put something it feels has dignity into a situation where it is routinely belittled by opposing teams? And, finally, they ask, “If being a mascot is such an honor, why are not other racial and ethnic groups clambering to be so ‘honored’?” American Indian educators also ask that we put quotation marks around “Indian” mascots because they truly are not American Indian anyway.

Recognizing that reality, the North Carolina State Board of Education issued a directive in 2002 to all school systems “to educate themselves on the educational, curricular and psychological effects of using American Indian sport mascots and logos,” and urged “that all public school administrators review their policies and procedures toward the use of American Indian sport mascots, logos and all demeaning imagery.”

Thirty schools in North Carolina have retired their “Indian” mascots. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg system made it systemwide, as did the Guilford County Schools in and around Greensboro. The Southern Guilford “Indians” became the Southern Guilford Storm, complete with an exciting new logo of clouds and a lightning blast. West Mecklenburg became the Hawks, recognizing their proximity to the Charlotte airport. Others changed to the Titans, Colts, Eagles, Bears and Bluebirds, to name but a few."

Get the Story:
Monroe Gilmour: Educators show leadership in retiring Indian mascots (The Asheville Citizen-Times 11/2)