Week of May 20

greenspun.com : LUSENET : Stand : One Thread

Week of May 20

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2001


District can't shake Indian nickname question

By Michael Hill, Associated Press, 5/12/2001 10:51 http://boston.com/dailynews/132/region/District_can_t_shake_Indian_ni: .shtml [boston.com link now dead, a search doesn't bring up this article anywhere else on teh web yet]

BOICEVILLE, N.Y. (AP) Onteora High School is the home of the Indians home of tomahawk chop cheers, the Tomahawk Queen and a snarling warrior painted on the gym wall.

And this bucolic Catskill Mountain school district is home to a lingering question over whether to retire an Indian nickname some see as insulting. District voters will consider the Indian issue Tuesday through a nonbinding referendum, weighing in on a question that has bedeviled schools all over with sporting monikers like the Braves or Red Raiders.

The question has new urgency in New York following a recommendation last month from the state's education commissioner that schools consider dropping Indian mascots and nicknames. As schools across the state take a fresh look at the issue, the raucous history of the Onteora debate shows how hard change can come.

''Native Americans live among us,'' said Donna Boundy, an Onteora district resident. ''They're regular people, they're not all wearing loin cloths, they're not all wielding tomahawks. It reminds me of the minstrel shows.''

The Onteora Board of Education voted in January 2000 to phase out the Indian name after a multiracial group of parents that included Boundy complained. A district resident with Indian heritage had complained in 1997, but no action was taken.

The move last year angered others here who saw nothing wrong with the Indian name.

Advocates of the change reported harassment and nails in their tires. It turns out the Indian issue bought to the fore long-simmering cultural tensions in this district, which covers a wide stretch of the Catskills.

On the district's east end is the famous arts colony Woodstock, where you can pick up a jar of autumn fruit chutney and an enlightenment aromatherapy candle. The artsy town can seem a world apart from the other rural towns comprising most of the district.

Or in Boundy's words: ''The perception is like we're highfalutin communists.''

Emotional reactions are not uncommon in districts looking to retire Indian names or mascots.

In the Mohawk Valley, voters were so upset that the Canajoharie school board dropped the nickname ''Redskins,'' they decided last year to have no mascot. In Virginia this month, more than 100 students of Blacksburg High School walked out of school to protest the board's decision to retire its Indian mascot.

Champions of the Indian in Onteora echo arguments heard elsewhere as the issue gained steam through the '90s: They are honoring the Indian and upholding a local tradition that has been around for decades (in Onteora's case, since the 1950s.)

''In this school district, everything here is named after Indians,'' he said, ''the creek, the roads, the mountains,'' said Board Trustee Joseph Vanacore.

The word ''Onteora'' is believed to have been coined by a white man in the 19th Century, based on the Iroquois words for land and sky.

After the vote to phase out the Onteora Indian, three board candidates that ran in the May 2000 elections promised to return it. They won. The Indian survived.

The issue eventually faded into the background here, even as it remained on the radar of some powerful people, notably New York Education Commissioner Richard Mills. The commissioner had already been studying Indian mascots and nicknames following a complaint in another district.

Mills on April 5 sent a letter to public school administrators asking that local school boards end the use of Indian mascots as soon as practical. A week later, the federal Commission on Civil Rights made a similar recommendation.

Neither recommendation has the weight of law, but Mills noted concerns that Indian mascots and symbols could violate federal anti-discrimination laws. He called for local ''discussions'' on Indian nicknames and promised to revisit the issue next year.

Mills' action complemented by the federal commission fast-tracked the issue for many school districts around New York, where more than 100 high schools have nicknames like Warriors or Indians.

Afton, a rural community northeast of Binghamton, voted to drop its Indian mascot and logo. In the Mohawk Valley, Fonda-Fultonville High School is considering whether to remain the home of the Braves.

In Onteora, the school board voted to put a nonbinding referendum before the voters when the budget and two board slots are considered Tuesday. The referendum asks whether the Onteora Indians nickname should remain. A buckskin-clad mascot who cheered at football games was retired years ago.

Board president Martin Millman said the referendum would have been placed on the ballot with or without Mills' recommendation. But he said the referendum will take ''the pulse of the community.''

Critics say the referendum is merely a ploy to bring pro-Indian forces out on election day.

In the end, the Indian's survival in Onteora might hinge less upon self-proclaimed guardians on the board but on residents tuning the issue out. More than one district resident queried waved off the issue as nonsense, or unwanted static.

Even at the Onteora High School the center of the battle senior Erik Michaels-Ober said his fellow students seem more concerned this year about issues involving academics, parking spaces and nuisance smoking in the bathroom.

''There are students who have strong feelings about it,'' he said, ''but compared to last year, it's less of a big deal.''

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Some high school nicknames in New York http://boston.com/dailynews/132/region/Some_high_school_nicknames_in_: .shtml

By Associated Press, 5/12/2001 10:52

Some school nicknames in New York state, followed by number of high schools believed to be using them. State education officials say it is not clear if Raiders and Red Raiders nicknames refer to Indians in all cases.

tx Indians 49 Warriors 32 Raiders 14 Red Raiders 10 Braves 8 Chiefs 6 Redskins 4 Redmen 2 Arrows 1 Blackhawks 1 Eskimos 1 Mohicans 1 Senecas 1 Tomahawks 1

Source: State Education Department preliminary list of high schools with American Indian mascots.

-- Anonymous, May 23, 2001

Now that the elction is behind us and the next one is a year away, I propose we helkp the district set a year of study in place on the issue of stereotyping.

I will call hal and see, since the Commissioner has asked that superintendents take leadership in this area, if he will institute a year of study...not specifically on the mascot, but on the power of stereotypes in general...could be fun..I'll suggest some organizations where speakers and programs for the school and community could be found.

Tobe Here's a great article for all.

Native American nicknames in high schools should be challenged

Now that the NCAA has declared the inhumane use of Native Americans as team mascots a sincere concern, it was only a matter of time before high schools would -- and should -- be challenged for such callousness.

That wake-up call has come. Including for the nearly 30 high schools in Georgia which parade Native American images as pep-rally symbols.

McEachern Indians!

Time to let it go. And I am not standing alone. Last month, the United States Commission on Civil Rights issued a statement calling for an end of the practice of using human beings as mascots and rallying cries.

"It is particularly disturbing that Native American references are still to be found in educational institutions, whether elementary, secondary or post-secondary. Schools are places where diverse groups of people come together to learn not only the 'Three Rs,' but also how to interact respectfully with people of different cultures."

The key word here is "people." That's what Native Americans are. Not mascots.

Social Circle Redskins! How low can you go?

Unfortunately, this denigration is as much part of our heritage as TV-and-movie images of the brave Indian warrior as a savage beast. Native Americans were, and are, living breathing human beings who, believe it or not, have feelings, too.

Bryan County Redskins! Makes you want to holler.

But, despite this country's sordid history of brutality toward the original inhabitants of this land, there has never been much compassion shown toward our fellow man. It was enough to make a grown man want to cry: "Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just." Some bleeding heart? Nope. Thomas Jefferson.

Sequoyah Chiefs! Listen to this.

"What mascots of living people do, even if they are intended to honor, is to mock them," Rex Veeder, interim director of the of the St. Cloud University American Indian Center told the NCAA News. "For non-Indian students, it creates a streotypical image. For African-American students, it's another example of racism."

Cross Keys Indians! Double shame on you, and the Creekside Seminoles, too.

These two metro-Atlanta schools are majority black, or nearly so. It is especially troublesome that African-Americans, who have felt the sting of being looked down upon for centuries, would be party to treating others as less than human.

Heard County Braves! Where are your brains?

"Perhaps those most affected," Veeder said, "are those who never think about it. They become de-sensitized, and seeing people reduced to cartoons becomes acceptable. ... Once you create an environment where you make it OK to mock living people, you open the door for all kinds of racist uses.

"When children see these T-shirts and posters, whether they are American Indian children or not, they understand that people are being degraded and shamed."

McIntosh Chiefs! Something must be done.

To the NCAA's credit, the matter is being taken seriously, having already drawn the line in the moral sand. It remains opposed to awarding championship sites to places where the Confederate battle flag remains prominent, as in the Mississippi state flag.

Opponents of Native American mascots are exploring the possible use of the same "Big Stick" approach. Their argument is that when it comes to "NCAA" championships (i.e. NCAA Big Bucks), institutional autonomy takes a backseat.

Oconee Warriors! What should right-minded people do?

Regrettably, the Georgia High School Association, which governs prep athletics in the state, is not exactly a forward thinking body. These are the same good 'ol boys (mainly) who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the realization that fair treatment of female athletes and coaches is not an option -- but the law.

As for teachers and principals, they are so busy withstanding attacks on their credibility -- from the left as well as the right -- it takes all that they have (God bless them) just to draw up enough strength to drive some sense into our knuckle-headed children.

So, that leaves the onus to correct this wrong right where it belongs.

Parents, here's a novel idea: Do your job and begin instilling some values into your children. Let them, and the politicians know there is nothing upstanding about pumping your folks up while looking down on other human beings.

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2001

Smells like school spirit

-- Anonymous, May 20, 2001

Onaje has called off his appeal...see today's print edition of the Freeman..seems he thinks that the people have spoken to the "less than truthful" nature of FP's testimony... Nuff said? probably not! Tobe

-- Anonymous, May 24, 2001

I'm going from a one-line mention on WAMC this afternoon. Says the Senecas have approved the Salamanca (western NY?) school district's use of an Indian mascot.

Tobe, you still have one sigh left on the westbound cliff on 28 between 375 and Maverick.

-- Anonymous, May 24, 2001

Moderation questions? read the FAQ