Daniel Stout Mr.

Bogner ENGL 200BE 27 October 2003 USD 383 School Board The Indian Mascot Must Go! On October 3rd 2001 the USD 383 school board voted 4-3 to keep the Indian Mascot. (Kansas) There are several reasons supporting the idea that United School District 383 should remove its Indian mascot for Manhattan High school: first is that the Indian mascot is rooted in racism; second, that the mascot reinforces the ideals that justify the extermination of entire peoples; and lastly there is no reason to keep the Indian mascot for Manhattan High. We can all agree as evaluating this proposal remember that we both share common goals as members of a republic, and that is to listen to the majority but protect the minority! This is the fundamental reason why every single person doesn’t vote, because then the majority would reign supreme, trumping minority rights. Included in that set of rights is the right to education; having the Indian mascot hampers education for indigenous persons. Problem The mentality that Indians are ok as a mascot because they are sub-human, it makes indigenous peoples look as though they are lower life forms than that of white members as it compares a religion and a people(s) to animals and imaginary creatures. This evaluation has no choice but to discredit a people and make them seem lower than human. Just as we treat animals as things without feelings that is what we do when we make Indians as the mascot of Manhattan High. This mentality that “they are different” and “they are lower life forms” is what justified

Stout slavery. Deeply rooted in the literature of the slave era in the United States is an ideal that Africans weren’t on the same level as that of white persons. This racist mentality is devastating, when one allows this to continue it allows persons to devalue and eliminate other persons for

2

their own desires. This is what slavery ultimately was, it was a racist policy in which allowed the “supreme white” to enslave and torture actual human beings, specifically to indigenous peoples. You can look to the use of measles and small pox as ways of eradicating entire people. Not because of anything they particularly did, but it’s what they weren’t, they weren’t evaluated as actually being as valuable or as desirable as the “white folk”. While one might say this is a little extreme, I argue it’s not; attendants of schools won’t be there forever, they will eventually move on to college and fulfill position of power and prestige throughout their lifetimes, if not in government, in the corporate world. Because School is a critical agent in socialization, we mustn’t allow such racist mentalities to be established in our nations future. Allowing it to continue only dooms entire peoples to death. Even if that isn’t compelling Indian Mascots are detrimental to academic success of indigenous peoples in school by causing confusion, intimidation and harm. Today, as a teacher educator, I show future teachers why Indian mascots are one cause for low self-esteem in Indigenous children. This is the point where this issue becomes detrimental to the academic achievement of students in school. (Pewewardy) Remember, you are a school board member, and got that membership in order to educate all of youth, not just the majority. That is why it’s imperative that you look closely at that mascot issue, ensuring that everyone has equal opportunity.

Stout Proposal

3

All that the USD 383 needs to do is bring the issue back to a vote, at that point the Indian mascot would disappear upon the approval of the proposal by the school board. Funding wouldn’t be an issue. First, the booster club is extremely good at raising money and providing the sports programs with new uniforms on an almost yearly basis. This means there can easily be a phasing out of the old Indian mascot uniforms and symbols. This phasing out allows funds to be raised and prevents any kind of funding problems to occur. Second, there is federal funding that can easily be obtained for this very situation, and that is to change a current Indian mascot. This federal funding wouldn’t come at any cost to the residents; it’s included in the tax money that people already pay. Justification While the mascots symbols are a tool of racism which mock not only people(s), but their religion; it teaches stereotypes and creates an environment that excludes peoples from education, which is what is the main purpose of a school, To provide education for all that attend. (Munson) Let us first look at the idea of stereotypes. Indian mascots are more than just names and symbols, they represent a mentality that is grasped from an entire populace, that populace being the school attendants. The Indian mascot is an environment that marks it success by striking fear and intimidating the school’s opponents at sporting events. Typically the Indian is portrayed in a manner that associates indigenous peoples with “scalping” and the “tomahawk chop”. While the members of MHS community contended that these references ‘weren’t intact at this school’, it is inherently false (Munson).The helmets and flyers that were stuck to lockers of athletic participates were routinely covered with a tomahawk with a feather attached. Tomahawks serve no purpose but to be used with a connotation of scalping and violence (Pewewardy). It is rooted

Stout in the idea that indigenous peoples are inherently violent and will massacre, kill and scalp their opponents. Indigenous peoples aren’t inherently violent, this is simply not true. But that’s what the connotations displays “when its strikes fear in the opponents”, when it is simply not true as indigenous groups are rich in culture and history, not savages as the mascots suggest (Pewewardy). This isn’t protecting the minority, like all leaders of a republic should strive for. Another example is the wrestling shirts from my junior year. They displayed an indigenous person with only loin cloth pants, a tomahawk, a headdress and a war painted face,

4

yet another depiction of savagery. (Pewewardy) That symbol is rooted in the idea that indigenous peoples are unable to afford the normal clothes of the western oriented person. The face of the indigenous person on the shirt was also that of anger and rage. That face symbolically displays the ideal of being easily raged and ill-tempered. All of these are stereotypes that were present during my attendance at MHS, in which I gladly left in the spring of 2002, not as a Manhattan High Indian, but as a student from Manhattan High School. As my representative I request you take my proposal in consideration. The environment plays a critical role in my next argument also. The environment created by the Indian mascot is one that encourages mockery of a persons heritage simply to “get into the game” or “get riled up”.(Pewewardy) Just as a person attending Kansas State University gets riled up by wearing purple and proudly wearing a powercat on their face or a foam finger, Manhattan High attendants did similar things. While the administration tried to contain and stop the tomahawk chop or students “war chanting”, they couldn’t always do this. Students would often start to do these things out of sheer mockery of a person’s heritage-but for what gain, to get riled up? These activities devalue what the headdress and the chants actually meant. Manhattan High students rarely if ever actually knew the background as to why or how to do the chants

Stout

5

correctly. This contributed to the mockery of the indigenous lifestyle, and it discredited the actual valued activities and devalued the very lifestyle and heritage of an entire ethnicity. It would be just like making the mascot chant random lines of the Christian bible without fundamental rooting in what the lines mean or how they are supposed to be used. It’s making a mockery of an entire heritage, and just degrading. This is equally wrong and should be rejected because of its mockery of traditional Anglo-Saxon views. (Munson) Most importantly, it shows no respect for indigenous persons. This is especially evident when indigenous peoples from around the area asked for the removal of the Indian mascot, not doing so only proves that the people “being respected” don’t feel that way. (Pewewardy, LeBeau) If the indigenous people don’t feel respected there is absolutely no reason to say that it is respectful, as one would might contend. These are things that should be taken into account as you consider your duty as a leader of the republic, for these are people that are in the minority and need the leaders to protect the minority, just as our founding fathers hoped for. Anticipation and Refutation of Opposition Now, I originally said that we just don’t need the Indian mascot, and I still contend that. Many of the proponents of keeping the mascot as the Indians contend that the Indian mascot is a sign of respect and teaches that respect to the attendants of the school. This is simply not true as proven above, it’s inherently racist and hampering. Something else to remember is that the proponents made a huge mistake, they based the entire argument about respect on the idea that the Manhattan High Mascot of the Indian was special because the school mascot was named after a indigenous person who coached football back during the depression. Not only is this claim ill conceived as per this coaches poor performance as a coach, who never had a winning season in the 6

Stout season he coached. More importantly, the mascot was actually voted on a full decade before he was even coaching at the school which means the mascot selection couldn’t have been an issue of respect as many contend. Beyond that argument, there is still perception and affects from other schools. Not all schools that MHS plays or competes with will know that they are called the Indians out of respect for a football coach, even if that argument was true. This critical because we mustn’t think that the effects are only going to be contained locally, they do spread. Take for example the school tradition at Manhattan high in which the flyers put on competitors lockers were often ones that referred to the opposing school. Now I know that MHS wasn’t the only school to do this, for I have seen it in Junction City High School and emporia high school, just to name a few. This leads me to believe that this isn’t some sort of special MHS tradition. Other schools around the area take the Manhattan high mascot and disrespect it and mock it “to get riled up”. This is something that is out of the jurisdiction of the USD 383 school board. But there is an easy solution, eliminate the Indian mascot and eliminate the ability of other schools to disrespect the mascot and perpetuate the ideals discussed above. Not changing the mascot will be failing the republican system established by our founders, failing to create an environment in which everyone is able to succeed in school, and doesn’t take a stand in the fight against racism. Sometimes people must make the hard decision. This is one of those times. Do the right thing, remove the Indian mascot!

6

Stout Works cited LeBeau, Mark. Bill to Eliminate Indian Mascots. October 1, 2002. November 3, 2003.
http://www.yvwiiusdinvnohii.net/News2002/0210/LeBeau021001MascotBill.htm

7

Munson, Barbara. Position Statement regarding the Use of AIndian@ Logos in Public School Districts. No Date Given. November 3, 2003. http://pages.prodigy.net/munson/position_paper.htm Pewewardy, Cornel. Why Educators Can’t Ignore Indian Mascots. 1998. November 3, 2003. http://aistm.org/cornel.why.educators.htm. Kansas. Unified School District #383. Wednesday, November 7, 2001- 7:00 p.m. MinutesRegular Meeting Robinson Education Center. Manhattan, KS: October 3, 2003.