Archive for Sunday, June 23, 2002

Mascot issue

June 23, 2002


To the editor:

Recently, a group of developers sought to develop the former Sunflower Army Ammunition Plant. Also, the Kansas Board of Education advocated the elimination of the usage of American Indian sports mascots by Kansas public schools. I would like to add to these statements.

First, as mentioned some time ago in the paper "Indian Country Today," the Shawnee Nation of Vinita, Okla., put in a land claim on Sunflower. As the land in question is federal surplus land, by law, federally recognized tribes have first dibs on the land. They also have access to federal "Superfund" moneys to clean up the environmental mess at Sunflower. This land was occupied by Shawnee people from 1825 to 1869, and prior to that, it was occupied for many centuries by the Kaw Nation and Caddoan Quiviran peoples.

Secondly, no specific ethnic group should be forced to accept being characterized in a stereotypical, ethnocentric manner by majority groups. This behavior is paternalistic. Not all people react to actions similarly. Nor should this be assumed to be appropriate to do. Paternalism is wrong! Native peoples have been misrepresented without permission or consultation. After Simon Little Owl and his friends came up with the "Fightin Whites" jerseys in Colorado to combat what they perceived as racist mascots at a local school, that school administrator still didn't get it. It is not all right to assume mascots are a form of honoring an ethnic group. Especially, not without asking native peoples.

Mike Ford,


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