Indians: Politically Correct?

Bella Sandoval, Staff Writer

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We embrace our school mascot by having our Hart High School Tribe leader wear the “Indian” headpiece, but are we really backing the right horse? Or are we embracing a racist taunt of the Native American culture? I had never thought there was anything wrong with the mascot until last year, when my U.S. history teacher mentioned the controversy over professional sports teams mascots like the Cleveland Indians, the Washington D.C. Redskins and the Blackhawks. I began to question whether or not our own school mascot was offensive.

Since the 1960s, as part of the Civil Rights movements, Native Americans and their supporters have held a number of protests and other actions targeting the more prominent use of names and images that relate to Native American culture by professional athletic teams, such as the Cleveland Indians and the Washington Redskins. A 2013 study indicates that more than 2,000 secondary schools currently have mascots that reference Native American culture, compared to around 3,000 fifty years ago. Many of these changes have been voluntary as the issue has been discussed at a local level. However, there has also been resistance and backlash.

Over 115 professional organizations representing civil rights, educational, and athletic organizations say it is form of ethnic stereotyping that promotes misunderstanding and prejudice which contributes to other problems faced by Native Americans.

The Cleveland Indians stirred up extensive controversy with their mascot, Chief Wahoo. After facing frequent criticism from the public, the professional sports team dropped the mascot and started selling merchandise with a simple “C.”

Our school does not use a “Native American Indian” figure on any representation of our school, but we do use a tribal head dress. None of the other mascots in our valley have the potential for the same kind of negative impact against an ethnic group as Hart’s mascot does. Overall, I believe that our mascot can be very offensive to those who have a Native American background. I believe it is time for Hart to consider changing to a more neutral, inclusive mascot.

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Indians: Politically Correct?