Universities, colleges should take notice of American Indian rights


    I wonder why it is that the Fighting Irish never cause any uproar but the Redskins do.It’s acceptable to be a Viking or a Trojan, but when dealing with mascots that represent a minority, people take offense to it.

    Again, I wonder why that is.

    Mascots personify pride in a team, but I find something disturbing about one group using a stereotype of another group to represent themselves in a positive light.

    Maybe that’s why American Indians take offense to sports teams that use the Redskins as a mascot.

    Mascots are supposed to symbolize an entity that a group can identify with. But are these groups using their mascots, a symbol of identification, as a mockery of another group of people?

    With mascots such as the Redskins, Braves and Chiefs, it’s to no surprise activists have voiced their concerns. No one would want a stereotype of their ethnicity exhibited as a pep rally plaything.

    Barbara Munson, a member of the Oneida Nation, addresses this concern in “Not for Sport” when she says many American Indians view these mascots as a mockery of what they truly stand for in American Indian culture.

    “We experience (the use of Native mascots) as no less than a mockery of our cultures. We see objects sacred to us – such as eagle feathers, face painting and traditional dress – being used not in sacred ceremony, or in any cultural setting, but in another culture’s game”.

    However, the NCAA found Florida State University’s use of an American Indian tribe (the Seminoles) as an acceptable mascot.

    According to the NCAA Web site, Erik Christianson, director of public and media relations, issued a press release stating the NCAA recognizes stereotyping is wrong, and although some American Indians do not disagree with the use of these mascots, the NCAA will continue to take precautions when reviewing the appeal of using these mascots.

    ” … the staff review committee noted the unique relationship between the university and the Seminole Tribe of Florida as a significant factor. The NCAA recognizes the many different points of view on this matter, particularly within the American Indian community. The decision of a namesake sovereign tribe, regarding when and how its name and imagery can be used, must be respected even when others may not agree.”

    But what about the San Diego State University mascot? Many students activists, including the Native American Student Alliance, found the pervious mascot, Monty Montezuma, offensive. First it was the nickname that offended students, then it was the red face of Monty that made students and alumni take offense. In the end, SDSU did change their mascot – they are now the Aztec Warriors.

    But how are the Aztecs, the indigenous people of Mexico, any different than Monty Montezuma? Who did SDSU think they were fooling? If Monty was offensive then why not the Aztec Warrior? It is still a representation of an indigenous people who take great pride in their ancestral roots, and I doubt many would approve of this charade.

    While many find the use of such mascots as honoring their people, I find it as a lack of understanding and respect for other cultures and their symbols.

    Then again, I can’t help but ask what would be next. Will the NCAA ban animal mascots on the basis of animal cruelty?

    Roxanna Latifi is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Fort Worth.