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Native American mascots are inaccurate stereotypes

By Letters to the Editor

To the Editor:

I’m Mike Ford. I attended Northview Elementary, Manhattan Jr. High and Manhattan High School between 1981-1986.

I’m a Choctaw/Biloxi descendant. I’m also a person who marched at Arrowhead Stadium in 2005 protesting the Redskins and Chiefs game with AIM founder Vernon Bellecourt, Ojibwe and current plaintiff in the Redskins patent case, and many other indigenous peoples that day.

I read the column on Page A6 (Friday) as I left the Kansa Pow-Wow at Washunga Days in Council Grove, and I thought as I drove back east on US 56.

The issue lost on many non-Native people is that this mascot is a stereotype of indigenous peoples that perpetuates a sameness in spite of over 600 federal and state tribal entities across this country. We speak many different languages and have many different traditions. None of your mascots have anything to do with traditional practices, languages or knowledge concerning who we are or how diverse we are.

Your mascots are stereotypes not based in reality but in Euro-American mythology that isn’t that old. My Choctaw ancestors never wore headdresses. That is part of your mythology that is incredibly misleading when it comes to the indigenous reality in this country and how everyday Americans voted for people and still vote for people who do damage to Indian Country intentionally.

When these mascots are done away with will you actually learn and accept and respect the historical reality of this nation’s actions towards indigenous peoples?

I remember MHS botany teacher Myron Schwinn omitting the mention of Native peoples when talking about local species of trees when I was in his class in 1985.

I remember the hazing practice of dragging/shining freshmen across the chief’s imprint in front of the main gym at MHS because it happened to me, a Choctaw/Biloxi descendant, as a freshman.

No, your mascot is not offensive at all and was never used in an offensive manner. This chief imprint was in front of the gymnasium where I once saw LHS, KU and NBA star Danny Manning have a banana thrown at him by someone in the stands below me.

In closing, you all may have had a coach with Native ancestry advocate for this mascot 70 years ago in an entirely different era where the stereotyping of minorities was prevalent in cartoons. Stereotyping on inaccurate ethnic grounds in 2014 is not acceptable. Manhattan High prides itself on academic excellence and you should know this already.

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