Stanley Heller: Still a ways to go on mascots in Connecticut

The logo of the North Haven Indians. Image from Facebook

Stanley Heller of The Struggle discusses how efforts to eliminate racist mascots in Connecticut are being met with resistance:
There’s been some small progress in Connecticut in getting rid of Indian mascots, but not enough. A couple of years ago Quinnipiac College changed its mascot from the “Braves” to the “Bobcats”. This year West Hartford public schools decided to abandon Indian mascot pictures. They’ll keep the names “Chieftan” and “Warrior”, but replace all Native American images.

In North Haven, Clark college sophomore and recent North Haven high school graduate (and athlete) Talia Gallagher was allowed to make an extended statement at a Board of Education meeting calling for an end to the town’s “Indian” mascot. She was very poised as she told the assembly that use of the mascot amounted to stealing from a culture of a people who had undergone massacre and theft of land. The use of the mascot continued the stereotype of Indians as “savage, aggressive, warlike creatures”, she said. She mentioned the common practice of “wearing headdresses and stereotypical war paint” at sporting events. She said, “the majority of the Native American community are offended and harmed by any Native American mascot”.

Later town residents were allowed to make their own remarks. It got pretty heated. Opinions did not break down along ethnic lines. A Dr. Camp, who said she was a direct descendant of an Indian nation, in Bolivia spoke strongly in favor of keeping the mascot. She compared keeping the term “Indian” to other teams names that had some ethnic reference like Yankees and Celtics. She asked, “Should we expunge all Indian names from streets and rivers?” She said removing the mascot would be “showing deference to the eradicated tribes by removing all memory of them as it appears in our language.” She suggested those suffering “white guilt” would do better by advancing the “mission” of the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Ah yes, the beloved Bureau of Indian Affairs.

YouTube: The Struggle Video News
A non-Indian woman who lived on an Indian reservation as a child while her father taught at a South Dakota “Indian School” talked regretfully about how for a century those schools tried to wipe away Indian culture from the students. She said studies showed the mascots caused profound negative impacts on Native American student self-worth even when the students said they liked the mascot.

Get the Story:
Stanley Heller: What Movies Best Depict Indians? (Indian Country Today 5/8)

Related Stories
Stanley Heller: Help eliminate an Indian mascot in Connecticut (3/4)

Join the Conversation