SAY NO!!! To Indian Mascots
Chief Illiniwek's final official appearance was at an Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball game on February 21, 2007.
In Whose Honor?
Long ago when our people first met, the White Man gave us a name to express his hatred. That name was "REDSKINS". They viewed the "REDSKIN" as a big dumb animal. They slaughtered our children as they would slaughter the wolf. They skinned the bodies of our families and made leggings and tobacco pouches. They turned in the REDSKIN of the Native American for bounty. Yes, they took away our religion, and they said, "What animal understands a higher power?" They confined us to areas because the modern man keeps animals in a game reserve. It was their game, their sport and their joy.
When we hear and read the name REDSKIN, we remember the past. This is the modern day, the dawn of the 21st century, but as Human Beings we see the White Man has no respect for us in the present. We are not allowed to move freely or to be free from their words of hate.
We are treated like they treat the animals,
"Stay out of sight and keep quiet REDSKIN, and you can have your life".
What you have missed is how the word REDSKIN came into existence and how it has been used.
What you have missed is how it has never changed...
Survival has forced silence onto the heart of the Native American people and you are told to be complimented by the name of hate:
"... every redskin must be killed from off the face of the plains before we can be free from their molestations. They are of no earthly good and the sooner they are swept from the land the better for civilization... I do not think they can be turned and made good law abiding citizens any more than coyotes can be used for shepherd dogs"
~ Major John Vance Lauderdale, surgeon US Army. Attending physician at Wounded Knee Massacre
"Hunting redskins became for the time being a popular sport in New England, especially since prisoners were worth good money, and the personal danger to the hunters was now very slight."
~ Douglas Edward Leach, Flintlock and Tomahawk: New England in King Philip's War (W.W. Norton & Co. 1958) ~
"Redskin Indians are "animals who do not even feel reason, but are ruled by their passions." "It can be known that they were born for this (slavery) because, as Aristotle says, such types were created by nature with strong bodies and were given less intelligence, while free men have less physical strength and more intelligence."
~ Magistrate Juan de Matienzo, in his book, Government of Peru, 1567 ~
"The Pioneer has before declared that our only safety depends upon the total extermination of the Indians. Having wronged them for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untamable creatures from the face of the earth. In this lies safety for our settlers and the soldiers who are under incompetent commands. Otherwise, we may expect future years to be as full of trouble with the redskins as those have been in the past."
~ An editorial of January 3, 1891, only a week after the Wounded Knee Massacre. "The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer" printed an editorial by it's publisher, L. Frank Baum, author of The Wizard of Oz ~
"Eastern humanitarians who believe in the superiority of the Indian race will raise a terrible howl over this policy, but it is no time to split hairs nor stand upon delicate compunctions of conscience... A few months of active extermination against the red devils will bring quiet and nothing else will."
~ Rocky Mountain News, a Denver newspaper- On August 10, 1864, Byres, the editor of the Rocky Mountain News, at Denver, wrote that the only way to deal with "Indians" was to exterminate them. ~
"We simply chose an Indian as the emblem. We could have just as easily chosen any uncivilized animal."
~ Eighth Grade student writing about his school's mascot, 1997~
"When I first landed in Cincinnati, I thought there weren't any Indians living here. But since noon, I have seen a Cherokee, Navajo, Winnebago, Dakota, Mohawk and a Comanche ~ And those were just the RV's, trucks, cars and small aircraft!"
~ Dennis Banks ~
On October 16, 1946, a man named Julius Streicher mounted the steps of a gallows. Moments later he was dead, the sentence of an international tribunal composed of representatives of the United States, France, Great Britain, and the Soviet Union having been imposed. Streicher's body was then cremated, and - so horrendous were his crimes thought to have been - his ashes dumped into an unspecified German river so that "no one should ever know a particular place to go for reasons of mourning his memory."
Julius Streicher had been convicted at Nuremberg, Germany of what were termed "Crimes Against Humanity." The lead prosecutor in his case - Justice Robert Jackson of the United States Supreme Court - had not argued that the defendant had killed anyone, nor that he had personally committed any especially violent act. Nor was it said that Streicher had held any particularly important position in the German government during the period in which the so called Third Reich had exterminated some 6,000,000 Jews, as well as several million Gypsies, Poles, Slavs, homosexuals, and other untermenschen (subhumans).
The sole offense for which the accused was ordered put to death was in having served as publisher/editor of a Bavarian tabloid entitled "Der Sturmer" during the early-to-mid 1930s, years before the Nazi genocide actually began. In this capacity, he had penned a long series of virulently anti-Semetic editorials and ''news."
Stories, usually accompanied by cartoons and other images, graphically showing Jews in extraordinarily derogatory fashion. This, the prosecution asserted, had done much to "dehumanize" the targets in the mind of the German public. In turn, such dehumanization had made it possible - or at least easier - for average Germans to later indulge in the outright liquidation of Jewish "vermin." The tribunal agreed, that Streicher was therefore an accomplice to genocide and deserving of death by hanging.
Yet in the United States of Justice Robert Jackson, the indigenous American Indian population had already been reduced, in a process which is ongoing to this day, from perhaps 12.5 million in the year 1500 to fewer than 250,000 by the beginning of the 20th century. This was accomplished, according to official sources, "largely through the cruelty of Euro American settlers," and an informal but clear governmental policy which had made it a known goal to "exterminate these red vermin" or at least whole segments of them.
Bounties had been placed on the scalps of Indians, - any Indians - in places like Georgia, Kentucky, Texas, the Dakotas, Oregon, and California and had been maintained until resident Indian populations were decimated or disappeared altogether. Entire peoples such as the Cherokee had been reduced to half their size through a policy of forced removal from their homelands east of the Mississippi River to what were then considered less preferable areas in the West.
Through it all, hundreds of popular novels - each competing with the next to make Indians appear more grotesque, menacing, and inhuman - were sold in the tens of millions of copies in the U.S. Plainly, the Euro American public was being conditioned to see Indians in such a way so as to allow their extermination to continue.
By 1900, the national project of "clearing" Native Americans from their land and replacing them with "superior" Anglo American settlers was complete; the indigenous population had been reduced by as much as 98 percent, while approximately 97.5 percent of their original territory had ''passed'' to the invaders. There was, of course, no Nuremberg-style tribunal passing judgment on those who had allowed such circumstances in North America. No U.S. official or private citizen was ever imprisoned - much less hanged - for implementing or propagandizing what had been done. Nor had the process of genocide afflicting Indians been completed. Instead, it merely changed form.
Between the 1880s and the 1980s, nearly half of all Native American children were forcibly transferred from their own families, communities, and cultures to those of the conquering society. This was done through forced attendance at remote boarding schools, often hundreds of miles from their homes, where native children were kept for years on end while being systematically '"deculturated" (taught to think and act in the manner of Euro Americans rather than as Indians).
The express purpose of all this was to bring about the "assimilation" (dissolution) of indigenous societies. In other words, Indian cultures as such were to be caused to disappear. By the government's own data in the mid-1980s, Indians received the lowest annual and lifetime per capita incomes of any population group in the United States.
Under such circumstances, alcoholism and other escapist forms of substance abuse are epidemic in the Indian community, a situation which leads both to a general physical debilitation of the population and a catastrophic accident rate. Teen suicide among Indians is several times the national average.
The average life expectancy of a reservation-based Native American man is barely 45 years; women can expect to live less than three years longer.
It is continued at great length, including matters like the radioactive contamination of large portions of contemporary Indian Country, the forced relocation of traditional Navajos, and so on. But the point should be made: Genocide, as defined in international law, is a continuing fact of day-to-day life (and death) for North America's native peoples. Yet there has been - and is - only the barest flicker of public concern or even consciousness of this reality. Any serious expression of public outrage is strangely absent, no one is punished and so it continues.
One of the reasons for the ongoing holocaust in Native North America has been a continuation of the popular legacy, often through more effective media. Since 1925, Hollywood has released more than 2,000 films, many of them rerun frequently on television, portraying Indians as strange, perverted, ridiculous, and often dangerous things of the past. Moreover, we are constantly presented to mass audiences one-dimensionally, without any recognizable human motivations and emotions: Indians therefore serve as props, little more. We have now been thoroughly and systematically dehumanized.
Nor is this the extent of it. Everywhere we are used as logos, as mascots, as jokes: "Big Chief" writing tablets, "Red Man" chewing tobacco, "Winnebago," campers., "Navajo" and "Cherokee" and "Pontiac" and "Cadillac" pickups and automobiles. There are the Cleveland "Indians," the Kansas City "Chiefs," the Atlanta "Braves" and the Washington "Redskins" professional sports teams, - not to mention those in thousands of colleges, high schools, and elementary schools across the country each with their own degrading caricatures and parodies of Indians and / or things Indian. Pop fiction continues in the same manner including an unending stream of New Age manuals aiming to expose the inner works of indigenous spirituality in everything from pseudo-philosophical to do-it-yourself styles. Blond yuppies from Beverly Hills go around the country claiming to be reincarnated 17th century Cheyenne Ushamans ready to perform previously secret ceremonies.
A great effort has gone into making Indians unreal. It is for this reason important, that the American public begin to think about the implications of such things the next time they witness a gaggle of face-painted and war-bonneted buffoons doing the "Tomahawk Chop" at a baseball or football game. It is necessary that they think about the implications of the grade-school teacher dressing their child in turkey feathers to celebrate Thanksgiving. Think about the significance of John Wayne or Charleston Heston killing a dozen "savages" with a single bullet the next time a western comes on TV. Think about why Land-o-Lakes finds it necessary to market its butter with the stereotyped image of an "Indian princess" on the wrapper. Think about what it means when non-lndian academics claim - as they often do - to "know more about Indians, than Indians do themselves." Think about the significance of charlatans like Carlos Castaneda and Jamake Highwater and Mary Summer Rain and Lynn Andrews churning out "Indian" bestsellers one after the other, while Indians typically can't get into print.
Think about the real situation of American Indians. Think about Julius Streicher. Remember Justice Jackson's reasoning. Understand that the treatment of Indians in American popular culture is not "cute'' or "amusing," or just "good, clean fun."
Know that it causes real pain and real suffering to real people. Know that it threatens our very survival. And know that this is just as much a crime against humanity as anything the Nazis ever did. It is likely the indigenous people of the United States will never demand that those guilty of such criminal activity be punished for their deeds. But the least we have to expect - indeed to demand, -is that such practices finally be brought to a halt.
From cartoonish Indian caricatures to the tomahawk chop
Say No To Mascots!