Opinion | Sports

Native Sun News Today Editorial: Michael Haney fought racist mascot up until to his death

Fightin’ Whities honor the white business man as their mascot.

Michael Haney and Bob Laskowski had a lot in common
By Native Sun News Today Editorial Board

The last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series was in 1908.

Native Americans didn’t get the right to vote until 1924. So that was a very long time ago.

But the most important point to be made here is that the team that got beat was one that Indian activist Michael Haney, a Seminole Indian with a trace of Sioux blood, had been fighting to change their name and logo until the day he died. That’s right; the team was the Cleveland Indians.

Haney was a member of the American Indian Movement and he; along with Charlene Teters, Spokane, and Vernon Bellecourt, Ojibwe, had been protesting at Cleveland Indian games for many years. Russell Means and Dennis Banks also participated in some of the protests.

Haney, Suzanne Harjo, Muskogee, and Tim Giago, Oglala Lakota, made one of the first appearances before a national audience in 1992 when they spoke out against using Indians as mascots on the Oprah Winfrey Show.

Before his premature death Haney spoke with Giago and said he was having a ceremony to put a curse on the Cleveland Indians and the Washington R-Words. Everybody sort of laughed him off, but for anyone keeping statistics, neither team has won any championships since before the curse of Michael Haney which he said he initiated in 1993.

On Wednesday night in game 7 of the World Series the Chicago Cubs put the kibosh on the Indians in 10 innings. The Washington R-Words have had pretty inconsequential seasons over the past 20-some years.

Is the curse of Michael Haney for real or the curse of Russell Means?

In 1972 Means predicted that the next time the Cleveland Indians go to the World Series they would go all the way the 7th game, go into extra innings and then lose it on a walk-off home run. Kind of eerie, huh?

Many years ago Giago was driving from Brookings to Rapid City when he stopped for breakfast in Mitchell. He spotted the Rapid City sports broadcaster Bob Laskowski enjoying breakfast and joined him. The breakfast lasted about 2 hours as Giago spoke sincerely to Laskowski about why he was troubled by American sports teams using Indians as mascots.

Laskowski, who died last week, took the conversation to heart and when he went on the air the next time he vowed never to use the word “Redskin” again in any of his broadcasts and he was true to his word: He never said Redskin on the air again.

We wish Bob and Michael the best of everything good as they make their way to the Spirit World.

Read more news and opinion on the Native Sun News Today website: Michael Haney and Bob Laskowski had a lot in common

(Contact the Editorial Board of NSNT at editor@nsweekly.com)

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