Saturday, February 26, 2011


I will forever be indebted with my high school. I have learned so much. It has made me who I am. Tell me which school lets a high school senior travel the world and not attend classes to understand what it means to be empowered as a woman? India, Spain, and Chiapas would have been a mere dream. Especially Chiapas. I was able to be a rebel with a cause and come to terms that it is perfectly fine to be agitated. But in a school in which I was able to explore post-colonial issues at my leisure in the library between classes, our institution was shrouded in the image of the INDIAN. Shady Side has a strong sports tradition. The symbol of the Indian is coveted, but during my junior year, the forum was opened so that students could voice their opinion on the Indian. This is what they said:

-We are paying tribute to Native people all over the United States. We re acknowledging their bravery and strength. They are commendable, strong people. We value them. That is why they are our mascot.

-it is a shady side tradition. We should not change it if it never was a concern. we have such pride in the symbol. it isnt Indian. Its Shady Side.

-Who cares?
This is what I Think as well as other students:

-For several years, the United States had genocide over genocide, exterminating and moving indigenous families around America. Native populations have been reduced to small numbers. In fact, Native peoples are not one people. They are several people. They are nations with different languages and dances and movements and religions. In the late 20th century, Native people united to reconstruct an identity that was a reaction to the years of colonialism of Native tribes. A Sioux Indian has very little in common with an Iroquois Indian or a Cherokee Indian yet they are lumped together. The mascot does not allow for any acknowledgement of the sovereignty of different Indian nations/tribes. Also, when schools has the INDIAN as the mascot, the symbol is always a Native Indian in Great Plains garb. It gives the illusion that all natives are the same and their culture is marked by long feathered head dresses and fringed suits. It is an incorrect description.

-The mascot does not really pay tribute to the Indian. It is a mockery to the Indian. Other teams in the leagues are wild cats and predatory fish such as the sharks. Placing a people in that category makes the Native look as though the group is part of the flora and fauna. It makes them sound as though they are wild and primitive and animalistic.

-We should be looking at a historical perspective. We should keep in mind history and compare and contrast to today. There are Native Americans around today. They do not look like the romantic image that is splayed across Shady Side banners. There is sorrow but hope in the reservations. There is a history of deceit. The image of the Indian on athletic ware gives the illusion that A. A native population is dead and we are honoring their ghosts. and B. that those who are in reservations are not "true" indians because they are not wearing headdresses. We have painted images as to what Native people are supposed to be like and those who do not fit those images are illegitimate.

-I understand that this is a tradition but keep in mind that traditions can change. We are constantly evolving. We acknowledge that we should not discriminate because of race, socio-economic status, gender, age, ethnicity, or sexual orientation yet we have a Native American mascot? Something is not consistent hear but we can learn. And it is a concern because we are bringing up. Students voiced these concerns. People do care. That is why the discussion continues. The mascot is a mockery to indigenous people.

Does this look appropriate?

Contrast this video to a traditional pow-wow. See the difference? No war paint in the second video.

I hope we could change the mascot in my school. It is disappointing to see that the administration is not really taking strides to change the mascot. Their fear is the loss of funding. But I think we need to take that hit to illustrate that our school is conscious about social issues and is sensitive to issues. This is a battle for Native people because it is a small step of acceptance and acknowledgement for indigenous rights and legitimacy. I hope for the best.

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