Monday, August 29, 2005

More on Indian Mascots

An excellent article in Inside Higher Education gives a good overview of the Indian athletic mascot issue.

A couple of memorable comments from the article:
Charles E. Kupchella, president of the University of North Dakota, whose Fighting Sioux name and logo have been accused of furthering a racist stereotype, said in an interview that the NCAA had not made clear what it had determined was “offensive” about the university’s imagery or how it had done so.

“‘Hostile and abusive’ is not defined, and we do not know who says, and by what standard,” Kupchella said. “Our athletes and coaching staff have used the nickname and a logo, designed by an American Indian artist, with great pride and respect.”
And the article actually asked a real American Indian for a reaction:
Steve Denson, a member of the Chickasaw Nation who is director of diversity and an adjunct professor at Southern Methodist University’s Cox School of Business, said he believed that the NCAA, with its advocacy, might have done a favor to institutions that have encountered alumni and donor opposition to eliminating Native American mascots. “In some ways the NCAA is creating a favorable political climate for schools to go back to their patrons and say, ‘The NCAA is making us get rid of it,’ ” he said.

But Denson, who said he believes Native American nicknames such as Seminoles and Utes are acceptable when local tribes approve of them, also wondered if the mascot question really warrants the NCAA’s time and energy.

“The majority of American Indians I know say that compared to poverty on reservations and other issues we deal with every day that are challenging to our very existence,” Denson said, “this is a very secondary issue.”
Indeed. In fact American Indian “spokespersons” who wax indignant about the mascot and nickname issue should be told “get a life.”

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