Terese Marie Mailhot: I am your mascot and look how it turned out

A protest against the Washington NFL team's racist mascot during Superbowl weekend in Phoenix, Arizona, in February. Photo by ChrisPetersonTCS / Twitter

Writer Terese Marie Mailhot wonders why Indian people are used to promote everything from butter to sports teams:
I should get paid for how much grief Dan Snyder has caused me. Natives are on everything from butter to sports memorabilia, from Jeep Cherokees to motorcycles, and from tobacco to jerky. We are everywhere and not seeing enough of the jerky. It's bad enough Snyder is paying “homage” to us, but why couldn't he have re-named the Redskins the Custer Killers?

The idea that we're marketable is laughable, but valid when I see the stoic image of a chief in a headdress. I mean who was the first guy to say, “Hey, these people would look really good on a leather starter jacket.” It's your team, but do you really want to claim them? You suck, first of all. You have a history of signing decent players only to have them routinely fail you. You ruined Robert Griffin III. Your team was one of the last to incorporate Black players. Snyder has been quoted, by John Barr at ESPN, as saying, “... I'd like them to understand, as I think most do, that the name really means honor …” Let's consider the word “Honor.” It means high regard and respect. It means it would be a privilege to share our image, to be in our presence, and I guess you are privileged when I consider the white privilege it must take to get away with such ignorance. I'd appreciate Snyder's smug, pudgy face on my hair dryer because it would really honor his hot air.

Sometimes I do get excited to see butter, but I rarely kneel down and pray to it like the Land O'Lakes lady. It's bad enough I have to see the romantic imagery of an Indian woman kneeling every time I'm near the butter aisle, but I get to see Indian representation in the parking lots every time a frat guy or outdoors enthusiast parks his Jeep Cherokee next to me.

Get the Story:
I am Your Mascot, and Your Team Sucks (Indian Country Today 6/16)

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