Archive for Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Woodling: Offensive mascots must go

June 27, 2007


Add Arkansas State to the growing list of universities agreeing to scrap an ethnically offensive nickname.

A couple of weeks ago, ASU officials, bowing to NCAA pressure, reluctantly agreed to drop Indians and pursue another school mascot, joining Dartmouth, Stanford, St. John's and Marquette among others that have junked Native American nicknames.

Then there are some Kansas high schools.

In 1998, the Kansas Association for Native American Education issued a resolution that ":calls for the elimination of use of American Indian mascots and logos in all public and private schools in the State of Kansas."

Then in 2001, the Kansas Human Rights Commission issued a policy statement that "strongly encourages the discontinuance" of Indian-related logos and symbols, including high school mascots.

And how did Sunflower State high schools react to those KANAE and KHRC resolutions?

They were virtually ignored.

In 2000, Hiawatha High jettisoned the nickname Redskins and became the Red Hawks. Otherwise, a check of the Kansas State High School Activities Association directory shows 30 current offenders - 16 Indians, five Warriors, three Redskins, two Chieftains, two Braves and two Redmen.

To tell the truth, I'm not all that sure Warriors needs to be lumped into this category. That nickname is OK if they don't use corresponding Native American mascots or logos. If they do, then they should change.

Without question, the most offensive nicknames are Redskins and Redmen. Imagine the hue and cry, for example, if a school's athletic teams went by Yellowskins or Blackmen. Public pressure would be overwhelming.

Yet Wichita North, Little River and Liberal continue as Redskins, while Atchison and Smith Center remain the Redmen (and Redwomen?). These schools easily could retain red as part of their nickname, like Hiawatha and like St. John's University when it switched from Redmen to Red Storm.

Bonner Springs and Council Grove, the two schools known as the Braves, need to start from scratch, as do Tonganoxie and Kiowa-South Barber, homes of the Chieftains.

I suspect the folks in nearby Tonganoxie would argue that their town was named after an Indian chief, so why shouldn't they be allowed to use an Indian nickname? Answer: See Hiawatha above. Why not something like the Tonganoxie Thunder instead?

Shawnee Mission North can use a similar rationalization. SM North has been known as the Indians ever since the school opened in 1922 in then-rural Overland Park not far from the Shawnee Indian Mission, now a state historical site. Yes, but the other four Shawnee Mission schools don't have Native American nicknames.

And what's the deal with Manhattan? The home of Kansas State University was named after the famed borough of New York City that was purchased from Indians. That's certainly no reason for Manhattan High to be known as the Indians. Manhattan College doesn't use an Indian mascot. They're the Jaspers. Jaspers??? Oh, well.

The NCAA wields an effective club, stressing it won't allow schools with offensive Native American nicknames to host championship events. Why can't the KSHSAA apply the same kind of pressure?


usesomesense 10 years, 11 months ago

While I can understand it may well be offensive to have a mascot like "Indians" or "Redskins", how far do we take this? While the "Braves" may refer to a word with an ethnic origin (as ALL words do) the true reference is to Brave Warriors. This would not be unlike calling a team "The Samurai" , "The Guerriero", "The Guerrero" or "The Conquistadors" .
Would our Japanese, Italian or Hispanic (respectively) friends be offended by borrowing words from their language? Hopefully not, as we've been doing it for a very long time now. As a matter of fact, ALL english language words came from roots from other languages or are assimilated whole as new words. My point is this: the use of "Indians" and "Redskins" are ethnic slurs in general and inappropriate to use. The terms "Braves" and "Chieftains" are a show of respect - the desire to aspire to greatness. As far as I know no one has ever called someone an "Brave" to make them feel bad about themself (at least successfully).

It is not unlike calling a team "The Senators" or "The Monarchs".

Let's not get carried away here (as we usually do).

picod 10 years, 11 months ago

Lets not forget about the "Fight'n Indians"

esubrett 10 years, 11 months ago

I went to Tonganoxie High School and, as the article points out, the town itself is named after an actual Native American Chief. The Chieftain emblem on the helmets and hats are not offensive, they are simply the letter T. That is it. If Tonganoxie changes its mascot then this should open another door, in which other schools like George Washington High and schools like that should also have to change. Don't fold under the PC pressure Tonganoxie School District you will be missing the point. Long live the honoring of Chief Tonganoxie.

50YearResident 10 years, 11 months ago

I think the Indians should be happy about teams being names after them. Mascot names are always used with pride and respect. No school or professional team uses a name that is derogatory to that name. All mascot names regardless of origination are uses with the greatest respect. We need to lighten up on this, afer all, who could cheer for a team called the "turds"?

kshiker 10 years, 11 months ago

Woodling you are an idiot and a spineless sell-out for joining these silly progressives in this Quixotic campaign to eliminate Native American-like mascots. Shouldn't we be concerned with more important things???

Linda Endicott 10 years, 11 months ago

Until recently, when it suddenly became the agenda of the month (year, whatever), I never gave this a second thought. I don't suppose many of the rest of the posters did, either.

However, I don't see how any of the names mentioned would necessarily be insulting. They have never been used in that way. Mascots are always held in high esteem, and looked on with pride.

Even the term "Indian" isn't automatically insulting. The people were originally called that because poor, misguided Columbus, or the people who sponsored him, thought he had landed in India. How can that be derogatory?

Redskin could be a different matter, but even then, the use of any of the words has always been to show strength, pride, bravery in the face of adversity, and someone (especially for sports teams) who is not easily defeated.

How can concepts like pride, strength, bravery and tenaciousness be seen as derogatory and insulting to anyone?

And every civilization or culture has had their warriors. Not just Native Americans.

amazonratz 10 years, 11 months ago

The name "Indians" is only part of the problem. "Scalp 'em, Indians!" and the horrible cheer (I am not making this up) "Ooh, ungowa, Indian Power!" were both used when I was in HS with an Indians mascot. At times these, along with the "Whoo-whoo-whooo" chant of hand clapping against mouth were used, even in games against teams that were comprised mainly of Native Americans (we lived a few towns away from a reservation). These contextual aspects were offensive, to say the least. Sometimes it's not just the name that is the problem.

SloMo 10 years, 11 months ago

I think a good mascot would be the DANDELIONS, after all, I hear they're virtually indestructable. Oh wait, I'm on the wrong thread!

pelliott 10 years, 11 months ago

hey if you want to show respect, do it. i would be ashamed to have my family name on a professional or college sports teams. using a caricature of my culture isn't really like showing my name, it is like insulting my culture.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 11 months ago

How about the "Fightin' Whites" from the University of Northern Colorado? I don't hear anybody complaining about that one. Get a load of their "mascot."

The_Internator 10 years, 11 months ago

Does Woodling have so much tenure that those weak arguments against all Native American mascots pass through his superior editors?

The issue is not black and white:

The Florida Seminole tribal counsel gave their stamp of approval for FSU's mascot, chants, etc. I haven't heard many Irish complaining about Notre Dame. How about the Saints or any other team with religious mascots?

Perhaps Woodling would like to see the ban of all mascots involving any type of cultural history:say goodbye to our Jayhawks!

In many cases cultural oversight is needed, but the NCAA and Washington's call for complete abolishment of all these mascots misses the point that there is an opportunity for cultural exchange and learning, see the Seminoles and FSU. Get Haskell involved with the process and see what happens. There are responsible ways to do everything. This includes mascots and sports editorial writing.

oldvet 10 years, 11 months ago

I noticed the power of the NCAA when the North Dakota Fighting Sioux told the NCAA to shove it... and they hosted major hockey tournaments by simply covering up the images with paper... but of course every person in the stands was wearing the Fighting Sioux mascot on their clothing. When the NCAA takes on the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, then they will show some guts...

Bubbles 10 years, 11 months ago

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penguin 10 years, 11 months ago

That is a joke site for U of Northern Colorado...they are actually the Bears

but on another note they are also the home of a backup punter that wanted a starting job and so he attacked the first string punter on the football team.

I have long hoped that they Hays High Indians would be changed to the Fightin' Volga Germans...I am sure they would endorse that...because there is already the Kennedy Middle School Fightin' Irish in Hays....I believe the each town could go through and pick their own fun stereotypical resident and have fun with it

chemegirlie 10 years, 11 months ago

If they are so concerned about high school and college sports, are they planning to extend this to professional sports as well? Our Chiefs playing in Arrowhead would be in big trouble!

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 11 months ago

That's because the mascot of the University of Northern Colorado is a bear.

The Fightin' Whites, also called "The Fightin' Whities", were a real basketball team that played at the University of Northern Colorado. Check it out:

coldsplice 10 years, 11 months ago

odd that there is no mention here of the KC Chiefs either in the article or the postings...sorry but who cares about Tonganoxie changing their names to the Tornadoes or Kiowa-South Barber (wherever that is) changing it to...whatever, when all the kids going to school are wearing a Chiefs hat?

KC's nickname, while at 1st glance may not be as offensive on as "Redskin", is actually very offensive for it's origin which has nothing to do with high ideals or noble intentions of anyone. Naming your team after former KC Mayor Bartle's rank in some obscure Boy Scout fraternal organization is ridiculous.

penguin 10 years, 11 months ago

ya it was an intramural team formed to make a statement about the use of Native American mascots by the local high was selected to get a response out of people and not intended to be serious...or at least that is what you article says

coldsplice 10 years, 11 months ago

let's stop with the "cultural icons" discussion too. none of the offensive mascot issues that i've been hearing about are about "cultural icons" (read our beloved Jayhawks) it's about race. the Jayhawks nickname has nothing to do with this so leave it out.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 11 months ago

Whether it was a joke or just something to get their point across doesn't much make any difference to me. Did they think white people would be offended by the logo? I'm not offended in the least.

I guess every team that has the Redskins or something like that as their mascot should start using drawings of tomatoes instead.

But something tells me that people would just find something else to get upset about even if all the mascots and logos and chants that could even remotely be considered related to Native Americans were to disappear tomorrow.

acg 10 years, 11 months ago

Aren't there more important things to whine about?

NDNJAYHAWKER 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm an American Indian and have been raised here in Lawrence all of my life. I know my cultural and my traditional ways and respect every elder that has a say so in this matter. Personally I really don't have a problem with anyone using mascot names or symbols representing us. It is a GOOD feeling that they use us to represent there school or sports! But for the white people to get dressed up and try to dance and wear stupid looking clothing is just totally disrespectful that it makes me madder than heck! OR playing some idiotic music that misrepresents us it is not right either. That is what needs to be taken into consideration in my eyes!

coldsplice 10 years, 11 months ago

The Original Bob-get your facts straight...

"The name, "Chiefs" is derived from Mayor Bartle, who 35 years prior, founded the Native American-based honor society known as The Tribe of Mic-O-Say within the Boy Scouts of America organization, which earned him the nickname, "The Chief."[2]"

Larry 10 years, 11 months ago

How about the "Fighting Passivist"...... of course that might offend liberals.

coldsplice 10 years, 11 months ago

75x55-as someone who grew up in Lawrence starting in 1975, bleeds crimson and blue, and is back several times a year, thanks but no thanks for the history lesson. Most of us know the origin of the term and if you did too you would know that long before KU took the name, Kansans had taken over the nickname Jayhawker and were using it with pride for their free state opposition to slavery. Secondly, I don't think you really want to get into an argument defending the Confederacy and the institution of slavery do you...?

Furthermore, you miss the point. If someone had felt that strongly against what was done by people in Lawrence (or by border ruffians on the Missouri side) they at least had the opportunity to leave it. Race is not something you control-it simply is and to use it's imagery carries with it a pretty big responsibilty.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 11 months ago

I'm pretty sure that there is a significant difference between the mascot of a state university and that of an intramural basketball team.

So racism is okay as long as it isn't sanctioned by a university?

Okay, got it.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 11 months ago

the "Fightin' Whites" are an intermural team of Native Americans who formed the team to highlight the racism of naming sports teams after native americans:is that racist?

Yes. Naming a team "The Fightin' Whites" is obviously racist.

coldsplice 10 years, 11 months ago

75x55 The obviousness of such a shortsided opinion as yours is to obvious to require further elaboration (my apologies to Paul Harvey).

TheOriginalCA 10 years, 11 months ago

As long as these mascots are portrayed with dignity and honor, I see nothing wrong with it. i DO believe that the Washington Redskins need to change their mascot though. They are in the nation's capitol and they need to set an example for the rest of the country. I think that you can reflect the heritage of Native Americans in a manner that is favorable and that should be encouraged by the NCAA. What are the Texas Tech Red Raiders portraying? Georgetown has a plant (Hoyas) as their mascot.. LOL. USC has the Trojans. I hope that those of you with ancestors who were Trojans are not offended. I hope that farmers without brains are not offended by the Nebraska Cornhuskers or that OU Sooners cast all cheaters in a negative light. Should racists of Mississippi be offended by the Mississippi Rebels mascot? Should decent people be offended by the fact that Mississippi is honoring Rebels by having them be their mascot?

mom_of_three 10 years, 11 months ago

You are partially correct about the term "Jayhawker."

One of the free-soil guerrillas in Kansas and Missouri during the border disputes of 1854 to 1859. They weren't just from Kansas......

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

I always thought "Chestie Lyons" was the name of a porn star, but I was quite wrong. Ever since I discovered my error I have wondered how many self conscious LHS pubescent teenaged girls have complexes about their bodies today because of that mascot.

At any rate, at least FSHS didn't choose to be the "Free State Fighting Banana Slugs."

acg 10 years, 11 months ago

Because biggunz, if people are bitching and complaining about something, they just aren't happy. It isn't fashionable to complain about the war anymore. Folks are getting tired of it. It's not even front page news anymore. Abortion is too hot button of a topic right now. We've resigned ourselves to gas prices. So they were like, Okay, what can we complain about? Oh yeah, team mascots. We forgot to be offended by mascots!!

mom_of_three 10 years, 11 months ago

But the term "Jayhawk" evolved into something positive, so there shouldn't be an issue with it's offending anyone.

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 11 months ago

If that is so, then the corollary that naming sports teams after native americans is also racist must be true

That's correct. "Fightin' Whites" is every bit as racist as the "Fighting Reds." I'm glad we finally agree!

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

"But the term "Jayhawk" evolved into something positive, so there shouldn't be an issue with it's offending anyone." I think you underestimate the ability of Americans to be offended and who are willing to file lawsuits to compel other people to cease and desist offending behavior.

TheYetiSpeaks 10 years, 11 months ago

Terms like Redskins and Redmen are extremely offensive. Redskins actually refers to the practice of turning the scalps or "skins" of Indian men, women and children in for a bounty. I find the continued use of this term especially disgustingly offensive.

TheOriginalCA 10 years, 11 months ago


As someone who grew up in Lawrence, I can honestly say that your history is accurate and that it is forbidden in the city of Lawrence to discuss this matter. Why else would a bunch of white people fight in the civil war? The civil war was not about abolition of slavery just as much as the Iraq war is not about human rights and getting rid of Saddam. The Iraq war IS about oil and the civil war was about looting, and money. I don't want to turn this into an Iraq war discussion, I am just drawing historical similarities on what war is almost always about.... money

Jamesaust 10 years, 11 months ago

Obviously, the "mascot" for Kansas schools will have to be the USD number to avoid offending anyone. (Look out Vikings, Celtics - you're next.)

Next Friday, the "308's" battle the "259's."
-- The 308's they are so great; 259 smells like slime.
-- We're #308!

Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Honestly, with all the problems facing American's of all races today, it is amazing that this rises above the level of a discussion on "does a dozen eggs count more than one item for purposes qualifying Quick Checkout lines at the grocery store?"

Kam_Fong_as_Chin_Ho 10 years, 11 months ago

"That's correct. "Fightin' Whites" is every bit as racist as the "Fighting Reds." I'm glad we finally agree!"

Not trying to start a fight here, but we don't agree. I do not consider as equal these two instances.

So it's only racist if it's a white person saying it.

Okay, got it.

yme 10 years, 11 months ago

I don't have any comment about Chuck's column. But I am offended by folks who talk about the border wars and use the term Jayhawks for Kansans, but "border ruffians" for Missourians. That is as PC as it gets. Jayhawkers was a derogatory term used by Missourians. Kansans called their counterparts from the east "Pukes," not "border ruffians." What a shame Missourians opted for Tigers for their teams, wouldn't it be much more original to be screaming "Go Pukes."

mom_of_three 10 years, 11 months ago

The definition came out of the dictionary, so I will stick with it.......

mom_of_three 10 years, 11 months ago

I even remember it from history class in school. Another dictionary defition doesn't apply it to either state, but to A name given to a free-booting, unenlisted, armed man or guerrilla.

It evolved from that to a positive connotation.

gogoplata 10 years, 11 months ago

This reminds of the Seinfeld where he kept trying not to offend the indian woman.

WINONA: So, where are we gonna go eat?

JERRY: I thought we'd eat at the Gentle Harvest.

WINONA: Ooh, I love that place, but it's usually so crowded. Can we get a table?

JERRY: Ah, don't worry. I made reser... (catches himself)

WINONA: You made what?

JERRY: I uh, I uh, I arranged for the appropriate accommodation. And then, Knick tickets, floor seats.

WINONA: How did you get these?

JERRY: Got 'em on the street, from a scal... (catches himself again) A uh, one of those guys.

WINONA: What guys?

JERRY: You know, the guys, that uh, they sell the tickets for the sold-out events.


Sigmund 10 years, 11 months ago

Of course you, and the vast majority of Americans, can have all the positive connotations you want about the term "Jayhawk", "Cheifs", or "Redskins" and it won't matter a bit. If the tiniest number of people with nothing better to be offended about are offended we must go through the time, effort, and expense of changing it. Whatever.

classclown 10 years, 11 months ago

Larry (Anonymous) says:

How about the "Fighting Passivist":: of course that might offend liberals


Or just call them the "Fighting Liberals". Although the team would probably quit and leave halfway through the games.

classclown 10 years, 11 months ago

From Merriam Webster

passivism One entry found for passivism. Main Entry: passivism Pronunciation: 'pa-si-"vi-z&m Function: noun : a passive attitude, behavior, or way of life - passivist /-vist/ noun

Linda Endicott 10 years, 11 months ago

A passivist, Scene, is someone who avoids confrontation, especially violent confrontation. They prefer to settle matters peacefully.

A passivist, for example, would not join the military.

It's usually used in the phrase passive resistance: "refusal to obey the demands or commands of a government or occupying power, without resorting to violence or active measures of opposition; its usual purpose is to force concessions from the government or occupying power." (

You never heard of the word before? Really?

gr 10 years, 11 months ago

I don't see why any school would want to choose an Indian nickname. Names are usually chosen to show bravery and power. With all the problems indians have given us in recent years, I sure wouldn't want to give them any honor by choosing their names.

On the other hand, if giving indian names cause them dishonor, then why choose red Hawks? Isn't that bringing dishonor to hawks? Then there's the lions, tigers, and bears. But Jayhawks? - honor, dishonor - appropriate? I like the part about stealing everything not nailed down = goalposts.

Mike Ford 10 years, 11 months ago

I have to give Mr. Wooding respect on this issue. The last 50 or so posts show how clueless many of you are to this issue. If it's okay to clown Native people on a sports field, how does anyone expect tribal issues to be taken seriously by the larger population? None of these posters even mention any Native tribes save the Seminole tidbit at the beginning. None of you know very much about this issue, and yet you feel it necessary to speak with a tone of informedness when you aren't really speaking to anything except your lack of knowledge concerning the many peoples whose land you now live upon. It seems as if too many people have been exposed to these ridiculous charactures and not enough exposure to congressional laws concerning tribes and their cultures has taken place. Please learn before you speak.

Linda Endicott 10 years, 11 months ago

My bad, Yeti...pacifist is the word I was thinking of as well...

But the dictionary and encyclopedia items I looked up apparently make them out to be pretty much the same thing.

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