Marquette Warrior: Indian Team Names in Oklahoma

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Indian Team Names in Oklahoma

From The New Warriors:

Political correctness about Indian sports team names isn’t too prevalent in Oklahoma, in spite of the fact (or more likely because of the fact) that there are a lot of Indians in the state. From the The Enid News and Eagle:
Several high schools in northwest Oklahoma, including the Enid Plainsmen, Wakita Warriors, Shattuck Indians, Waukomis Chiefs, Okarche Warriors and Cherokee Chiefs, feature Native American mascots or nicknames, but administrators said those nicknames honor the area’s native people.

“A warrior or a chief is a person held in high regard,” said Wakita principal Kelly Childress. “I don’t think people of Native American cultures have a problem with it.”

“I think it’s a compliment we would use that (Chiefs) nickname,” said Waukomis football coach Mike Felder, who is one-third Cherokee Indian. “Like at Wakita, a warrior is like a solider for that tribe. (Using a warrior for the school’s nickname) is not a disgrace at all. It’s an honor.”

“We would never do anything that’s offensive to any culture,” said Waukomis principal Janet Blocker. “We have been the Waukomis Chiefs for years and years. I don’t see us changing. . . . We have Native American students here in school, and they have never expressed any concerns about it.”

The Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association, the governing body for high school sports in Oklahoma, has no policy about nicknames.

“It’s a local decision with the schools what they call themselves,” said OSSAA executive Ed Robinson.

[. . .]

“As long as you don’t do something improper or insulting, I don’t have a problem with (American Indian nicknames),” said Donnie Childs, a former Enid track and cross country standout who is a member of the Otoe Missouria tribe.

“I love the Enid mascot. I would fight for Enid to keep that mascot.

“I don’t see anybody wanting to get rid of the Fighting Irish (of Notre Dame) or the (West Virginia) Mountaineers. Instead of fighting about the Florida State Seminoles or the North Dakota Fighting Sioux, if people would direct all that energy into presenting the Native American culture, people would change their minds on their own and see that these are proud people and we should honor them even more.”


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