Opinion: Stereotypes of Indian people don't belong in athletics

"I got my first lesson in Indians portrayed as sports team mascots in the early 1950s when my father took me to a Cleveland Indians-New York Yankees game. Dad gave me money to buy a baseball cap, and I was conflicted. I loved the Yankees, primarily because fellow Oklahoman Mickey Mantle had just come up and was being touted as rookie of the year. But being mixed-blood Muscogee/Creek, I felt a (misplaced) loyalty to the Indians. So I bought the Cleveland cap with the famous Chief Wahoo logo on it.

When we got back to Oklahoma, my mother took one look at the cap with its leering, big-nosed, buck-toothed redskin caricature just above the brim, jerked it off my head and threw it in the trash. She had been fighting against Indian stereotypes all her life, and I had just worn one home. I was only 10 years old, but the look of betrayal in my Creek mother's eyes is seared in my memory forever.

So maybe I shouldn't have been surprised when half a century later, a Los Angeles Times editorial about legislators in North Dakota struggling over whether the University of North Dakota should be forced to change its team name and mascot from the Fighting Sioux provoked such a strong reaction. It was an irritant, like a long-forgotten piece of shrapnel working its way to the surface."

Get the Story:
Jack Shakely: Indian mascots — you're out (The Los Angeles Times 8/25)

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