By Jenny PetersonSpecial to CSMS MagazineI live in Missouri, the home of the Kansas City Chiefs. I have been in too many football games where the hatchet chopping and painted-face fans excitedly have acted out Indian antics all around the stadium. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. It seems like it is all in fun. Honestly, when I first heard on the news that there was controversy surrounding the “Indian Mascots” I thought it to be somewhat absurd. It seemed like just another thing for a “group” to complain about. I knew that I personally didn’t look down on the Native-Americans because they were my team’s mascot. Matter of fact, I actually naively thought “they should feel proud, their history is being remembered.” However, as I researched this topic and tried to look at it from the Native American standpoint, my view has changed. As I reviewed the sports teams, I realized that the Native Americans are the only culture that is used as team mascots. We would never allow a Negro mascot or an Asian mascot. There would not be a team called the “Blackskins.” Obviously, that would not be acceptable. Most of the mascots are animals such as dolphins, eagles, cardinals, broncos, bears, etc. There are “Cowboys” but that doesn’t seem to get portrayed negatively. Therefore, why is it acceptable to use mascots for the American Indians represented in our country? It could be embarrassing and hurtful for Native Americans to attend sporting events in our country where there is face-painting, hatchet chopping or Indian wooing sounds being made. The mascots and the mentality that goes with it seems condescending and disrespectful to the Indians and their history. This could be interpreted as an insult to the American-Indian culture. Many children are not being taught the history of the Native American culture now days. Therefore the only image the youngsters of today experience is the one that these Indian sports team represent—which is usually one of a blood thirsty, killer image. Would I want my culture represented that way? The answer is no. I have come to the conclusion that Indian mascots are a negative portrayal of the Indian culture. Native Americans should be able to move forward as other cultures have been permitted to do. Do I want to be remembered as a culture that used to permit slavery? No, I want to move beyond that. Learn from it, and move forward, never again living in the history of those horrible times. I believe the Indian culture should be allowed the same courtesy. The use of Indian mascots has a negative affect on all children. It is time to let our Native Americans move forward. History is important. But so is the future. Therefore we need to educate our children about the Native Americans of today, not just yesterday. They are people like you and me. They are valuable members of our society. We need to treat them with dignity and respect. We need to educate our children, and et it begin with me.Jenny Peterson is a student at NSU. She lives in Missouri.
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