Native American names OK

The Tawas Area Braves. The Bay City Western Warriors. The Chesaning Indians.
Feb 27, 2013

These nicknames conjure up images of brave warriors battling valiantly for the survival of their tribe, or utilizing their cunning and ingenuity to live off the land and provide for their people.

Not everyone agrees.

In fact, some feel that these nicknames are so disrespectful to Native American people that they should be changed.

The Michigan Department of Civil Rights recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education that the use of Native American mascots, slogans and imagery in our state’s schools “promotes stereotypes and creates an unequal learning environment.”

First of all, we find it difficult to believe that attending a school that boasts a Native American nickname would in any way affect student learning.

Secondly, we disagree that these nicknames in any way disrespect or promote stereotypes.

Ironically, many Native Americans agree with us. Central Michigan University features the Chippewas nickname, and that nickname has the endorsement of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Mount Pleasant.

These nicknames are meant to conjure up pride and speak to the heart of the warrior in the students who represent their schools.

Look at other popular school mascots: Lions, Eagles, Crusaders, Trojans. These are all great, majestic, powerful images around which the schools can rally.

We can see how some may be offended by the name of the NFL team residing in Washington, the Redskins. But the Braves, the Warriors, the Chiefs and the Chippewas are names to be proud of, not names to be made fun of.

Living in Michigan, so much of our heritage is reflected in the proud names of the Native Americans who lived here before us. We should take pride in these names.

If we are to believe that all Native American nicknames are offensive, then we also must believe that nicknames such as the Holland Dutch, the Ypsilanti Lincoln Rail Splitters, the Warren Cousino Patriots, the Warren DeLaSalle Pilots and the Watersmeet Nimrods — not to mention the Grand Haven Buccaneers and the Spring

Lake Lakers — are also offensive.

It’s ridiculous, and the Michigan Department of Civil Rights should find a better way to occupy its time than by worrying about school mascots.

Our Views reflects the majority opinion of the members of the Grand Haven Tribune editorial board: Kevin Hook, Cheryl Welch, Matt DeYoung and Fred VandenBrand. What do you think? E-mail us a letter to the editor to news@grandhaventribune.com or log-in to our website and leave a comment below.
 

Comments

sirhansalot

Native American mascots and sports images are rarely steeped in heroic and romantic notions about a noble people. They're usually steeped in painful stereotypes. The perspective of time has shown us that our actions, intended or not, can offend others. We must not knowingly act in a way that others will believe, based on their experience, to be an attack on their dignity as fellow human beings.So if you think wearing red "war paint" on your face at a game is honoring the fighting spirit of Native Americans, don black face and see if the same sensibility works for you, or the African Americans in the seats nearby. If not, perhaps it is time to name teams for images that actually exist

LessThanAmused

Well sirhansalot, we certainly don't agree on dogs, but as far as this issue goes I'm with ya 100%. It's easy to say "get over it" if you're not the group being maligned. How long do you think it'd take for someone to hollar about this topic if we were talking about the Muskegon Heights Spooks, or watermelon eaters?
While I'd agree that a team called the Warriors is pretty generic, not Native American specific, teams like the Cleveland Indians and the picture of their mascot speak to all the worst parts of racial parody, just like blackface used to in the '30's. Obviously we haven't come nearly as far as we'd like to delude ourselves into thinking we have. Once again the Tribune folks don't "get it". Big surprise there I guess.

Woodrow

What's important to remember is that native Americans never even used the wheel. They didn't ride horses until they saw the Europeans do it. They ate the native American horse into extinction. Today on reservations they live as stone age people and expect taxpayer to pay for it.

A typical day for an indian tribe was to attack the neighboring village, kill all the men and boys, take the women and children as slaves, and steal all the other tribe's land.

Stereotypes are stereotypes because that's how people act. Enough of the PC BS already. Get over it!

LessThanAmused

Your ignorance of Native American people and their culture is amazing. If ignorance is truly bliss then you're as close to the Rapture as anyone I've ever heard of.....try reading a couple history books on the people and their culture and educate yourself just a bit on what happened before you showed up on the planet, to grace us all with your wisdom and compassion.

Yaright

Wow woody. Which Klan Lodge do you belong too?
GHT. Disappointing. The war
Paint and Indian names are no more offensive than say... The spear chuckers... Holland demographics have changed a lot. Perhaps instead of the Holland Dutch,
Holland Mexicans?
Your argument is ridiculous.

biped

Well, well. Isn't it just so convenient that a non-Native American can judge whether mascot names are offensive to Native Americans? Here's an idea: ASK A NATIVE AMERICAN! Shame on the G.H. Tribune!!

retired DOC

Same people might say it all depends on how well the teams do.
We all respect winning teams.

rainbowjoe

I don't find the typical team names-Braves, Warriors, Chippewas, etc.-at all offensive, but I'm not speaking from a Native American perspective. Some of the mascots, though, could maybe use a makeover. I would like to know what the tribes in Michigan have to say about the matter.
And, Woodrow, I would agree with the others than your comments were a bit over the top.

Nega-Waya

First of all... Real Native Americans are and will be offended when anyone calls them an Indian! Sorry folks, but 'we' are not from India. The people from India are called Indian's, that is what they are. For centuries a lot of tribes called themselves 'The First People'. This information is easily found through quiet a bit of searching, as well as talking or e-mailing 'real' Native American's on the ' rez.' Visit the Cherokee.
Now as far as the Native American names that people throw around as if they mean nothing except for their enjoyment/amusement, or just because they sound 'cool'...to quote 'Woodrow'-(at the end of his/her statement...) " get over it! " I mean " REALLY! ", come-on... get a grip people...slang insulting words have been going on much longer than any of you have been alive. And as far as a team or anything else being named of anything to do with a Native American...well... The people that are responsible for doing this I honestly hope that it was not done in an insulting way, but to pay tribute to the "Native American's ". A half-breed Native American. I can trace my family back to the ' Trail of Tears '... can you? It has been my experience, from being on the receiving end of people's racial slurs and all of the very hurtful/hateful words...we either have to 'get over it and grow a tough skin or keep wearing our feelings on our sleeves so-to-speak'...I grew a tough skin. Just one person's opinion.

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