Ellie Reynolds: Native people used as pawns in mascot debates

Students in Lamar, Colorado, dressed up as fake Indians and set up a teepee as part of homecoming events in October 2014. Photo from The Prowers Journal

Ellie Reynolds, a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe, doesn't think an Indian mascot bill in Colorado will promote understanding and awareness:
I grew up outside of the Pine Ridge reservation in South Dakota. My great-grandfather, Orville Sr. "Paha Ska" Salway, was an honorary chief of the Oglala Sioux tribe. Many of the schools located on the reservations themselves have controversial school names and mascots, too. For instance, the Red Cloud Indian School mascot, the Crusader, uses the symbol of a buffalo skeleton with a Native American on a horse throwing an arrow as their mascot. This symbolizes their history.

As a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe, the suffocating political correctness policing of every aspect of our lives concerns me. In [State Rep. Joe] Salazar's well-intentioned attempt to prevent anyone from suffering offense, he is actually perpetuating our inability to even discuss important issues of race, power and American history.

The entire purpose of a school mascot is to provide a single rallying symbol from which a community can celebrate unity. In this day of perpetual outrage, the suppression of these symbols will do little more than to further highlight the divide between Natives and everyone else.

In a society so consumed by political correctness, this bill could be detrimental to its stated purpose and actually prevent meaningful conversations about other cultures and races.

Get the Story:
Ellie Reynolds: Native Americans have become a political pawn (The Denver Post 3/30)

Another Opinion:
Joe Palladino: When are mascots, nicknames offensive? (The Waterbury Republican-American 3/31)

Related Stories
Bill in Colorado restricts use of Indian mascots in public schools (3/24)
Amanda Blackhorse: Dehumanization of our people continues (3/23)

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