The pendulum continues its politically correct swing…

The NCAA is requiring the complete removal of Native American imagery from teams that participate in NCAA events. Hey, that’s fine. They voted on it, and so they can make the rules.

Interestingly, the Seminole tribe in Florida and the Ute tribe in Utah have both approved the current usage of their names and symbols by the teams using them (The Florida State University Seminoles and the Utah State University Utes). The NCAA didn’t ask THEM, though. They just had their vote, and decided that Native American team names and mascots were insensitive and racist and had to be phased out.

I wonder… how long will it be before the states of Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Kansas, and Iowa are asked to change their names? And then there’s the cities of Omaha, Sioux Falls, and Minnetonka (off the top of my head) that will need to be renamed. And poor Dakota Fanning… by the time she’s a budding starlet with an ID that will get her into bars, she’ll have to prove not only that she’s 21, but that she has actual Dakota ancestry if she wants to use that name.

You want irony? The NCAA met in Indianapolis to make this decision (the word “Indian” has been decried as racist when applied to Native Americans, so obviously “City of the Indians” would have to go), and they lauded the University of Iowa as a model example for not using ANY Native American mascots, names, or imagery (except, of course, for the name “Iowa.”)

If we play our cards right, we can completely erase any and all linguistic and cultural evidence that somebody lived here in North America before the european folk moved in. And then we wouldn’t have to worry about racism at all, right? How much momentum does this stupid PC pendulum have left in it, anyway?

–Howard

52 thoughts on “The pendulum continues its politically correct swing…”

  1. they were in indy to make this decision? i would have considered firebombing their parking lot at the very least if i’d even suspected this was in the works. or maybe just made prank phone calls–ordering forty pizzas and the like. in all seriousness though, i understand why terms like redskins could be offensive but what makes use of the word utes offensive?

  2. Removal of Native American Imagery -NCAA

    I started school at Eastern Michigan University (The Hurons) the same year this issue came up in Michigan regarding college mascots. There were two very interesting points: 1. the student marches and fighting to keep the proud huron as our logo and namesake and 2. The Huron tribe fighting for EMU to keep the proud Huron as our logo and namesake.

    Its interesting how folks just decide someone or some culture is being discriminated against – wouldn’t it be nice to ask the culture. Or heck show that your proud of this culture.
    Thanks
    T.S. Lamb

    1. Re: Removal of Native American Imagery -NCAA

      They know what is best for you, and you cannot be expected to.

      A side note: As a partial Native American myself, of three tribes, I’m aware that the “Native Americans” completely slaughtered the FIRST peoples to have come across the Siberian land bridge thousands of years before. No living human seems to cary any of those genes.

      The “First Americans”… weren’t.

      Perhaps the tribes should make reparations. ];-)

      ===|==============/ Level Head

      1. Re: Removal of Native American Imagery -NCAA

        “I happen to think that mine is the level head and yours is the one things would roll off of.” – Willow Rosenberg, who was appropriately in a debate about Native Americans at the time

      2. Re: Removal of Native American Imagery -NCAA

        Perhaps the tribes should make reparations.

        To whom, if their predecessors were all killed off?

        1. Re: Removal of Native American Imagery -NCAA

          Well, now, that’s a good question.

          If the affected people are all dead, what is the point of reparations? And how many thousands of years can we extend this back?

          But in any event, this is probably not a fit topic for Mr. Tayler’s journal. ];-)

          ===|==============/ Level Head

    2. Re: Removal of Native American Imagery -NCAA

      I remember that. I grew up in Ann Arbor…

      I was pulling for the school to choose the emu as its mascot. No such luck.

    1. Also Massachusetts, and probably Arizona (depending on which derivation of the name you believe) and New Mexico (depending on if the PC-people remember that Central Americans are Native Americans too).

      Seriously, of 50 states, I think something like 39 have Native American-derived names. And then there’s Hawaii…

      Heh, and I think I have at least one ancestor from York. Perhaps they should protect me and prevent New York from using the name of my ancestral homeland?

    2. Actually, Detroit is a French name. “Ville d’étroit” meant “city of the strait”. The strait in question is what is now called the Detroit River, connecting Lake St. Clair to Lake Eire.

  3. Hey, why stop with Native Americans? I mean, now that we’ve started, we can’t very well leave other cultures out! So let’s say goodbye to the Vikings, the Buccaneers, the Patriots, and let us not forget, of course, the Fighting Irish! I’ve got Irish ancestry in me somewhere, and I must say, it has wounded me deeply to know that people considered my ancestors to be strong enough to be a symbol they wish to compare themselves to… er… *ahem*… yeah…

    Don’t even get me started on animal rights…

    *rolls eyes*

      1. You know where this is going…

        “Who’s playing today?”

        “It’s the New England Football Players against the Chicago Football Players.”

        “…Go Football Players!”

        1. Also, Chicago comes from a “Native American” word. So that’s out too.

          Perhaps they’ll just number the teams?

          “It’s the District 1 football players against the District 2 football players.”

    1. Don’t forget the Wake Forest Demon Deacons. You know what’s interesting, though? The Demon Deacons isn’t what offended the Southern Baptist Convention, it’s that Wake serves alcohol on campus.

  4. Living in Oklahoma, I find this very amusing. The middle school my children attended has an Indian warrior as a mascot. Not only that, but they do the team teaching thing and each team is named after a tribe. My daughter was on the Thunderbird team last year and my son was on the Cherokee team.

    I haven’t known too many real life Indians who have been offended by the warrior stereo-type*. Though I recently upset one who knew my parents for years. She’s Creek and hates Cherokees and a few weeks ago I told her my dad’s grandmother was half Cherokee. What bothers me the most about her prejudice is the fact that she is also a Mormon, like myself, and a temple worker. I don’t see how she could get a recommend with the hatred she feels towards people who haven’t done any wrong to her personally. But I guess that’s something she’ll have to answer to God for.

    *Actually, many are proud of it.

    1. Interestingly, I believe UNC Pembroke (The Braves) has been exempted from the ruling, as thier student body is predominantly Lumbee and Cherokee and for 65 years was exclusively American Indian.

      Traditionally, the Eastern Band of Cherokee and the Lumbee have hated each other, continuing to today, when the Cherokee are fighting official recognition of the Lumbee as a registed tribe.

      1. I would hope they’d be exempted.

        The Cherokee are hated by other tribes too. My dad is actually 1/8th Cherokee, which makes me 1/16th Cherokee. But we’re not registered. I understand a few of my dad’s cousins did get registered when the benefits to the American Indians started to be real benefits. It would come in handy right now if I was. I am need of some serious surgery and because I am considered white, I’m having to fight to get help to pay it.

        However, in the light of the treatment registered Indians received historically, I don’t blame my ancestors for not registering in the first place. Even in 1963, when my parents were married, people thought that being Indian was a disgraceful thing. Some of my dad’s relatives tried to shock my mother out of marrying him because of his Cherokee blood. What they didn’t know was that my mother grew up around the Hopi and Navajo reservations in southern California and she loves the Navajo culture.

        It is probably one of the greatest ironies in my life that I know more about Navajo art and culture than I do about my own Cherokee background, but I’m working on correcting that by studying the legends and art of Native America in general.

  5. A side note about those who probably pushed for this.

    Just remembered this as I was reading something else.

    About two years ago, a really PC and arrogant woman joined a mailing list I was on and tried to “educate” us on the proper ways to “show respect” to Native Americans. The whole thing sounded fishy, so I did an informal survery of my friends who are actually registered American Indians and were active in their tribes.

    I found out something very interesting and consistant with all of them – they are very suspicious of people who refer to them as Native Americans. They see is as someone trying to put on airs and being pushy. They all prefer American Indian and are more annoyed with being confused with people from India.

    You can get extra brownie points for referring to them by their specific tribe, but some many are part this tribe and part that tribe that it really isn’t feasible in many cases.

    Whenever I read all this stuff about being senstive to the Native Americans, I see before me the disgusted faces my friends made when I asked them how they felt being called that.

  6. Speaking as someone who grew up in Champaign, Illinois (home of the “Fighting Illini”) I can say that I would have preferred the local Native American activists to have fought and won a mascot change than the NCAA. There’s just something vaguely dissatisfying about that. It’s like two bickering kids had to run off to mommy and daddy to settle their own argument and now all the other siblings have to follow new house rules ’cause Billy and Betsy couldn’t freakin’ get along.

    Anyhow, I never found “Chief Illiniwek” all that offensive. The “Mascot” was a guy dressed up in fancy-dance gear who performed dance and athletic routines with the cheerleaders at halftime. Since the name of the tribe (Illini) literally means “superior men” I’m thinking an athletic dancer is probably a good choice to represent at least physical prowess and whatnot. Not that physical prowess alone indicates total superiority, but you get my drift… it at least made some sense and typically the dancers they got to portray the chief were respectful of the icon.

    What did piss me off about the mascot, though, was the marketing of the icon and the general insensitivity of the fans. While I didn’t feel the mascot itself was implicitly a racist symbol I certianly felt many of the fans were callously ignorant of the history of the symbol and utterly bereft of any semblence of reverence for the original “Illini” as a people.

    I think that opinion became firmly ensconsced in my mind the day I wandered past a sport shop and saw “Chief Illiniwek” toilet paper for sale. That is to say, toilet paper on which was imprinted the picture of the face of our “beloved” Indian Chief on each square of two-ply.

    Still, I agree witht he ruling in terms of my own home town’s situation. However, what is good for Champaign may not be good for the rest of the nation and I think this decision should have been reached locally.

    1. I don’t want to get into a Chief/Anti-Chief debate on Howard’s LJ, however, as an alumni of UIUC and the Univeristy of Illinois Marching Illini, Ifeel I must speak.

      I think that opinion became firmly ensconsced in my mind the day I wandered past a sport shop and saw “Chief Illiniwek” toilet paper for sale. That is to say, toilet paper on which was imprinted the picture of the face of our “beloved” Indian Chief on each square of two-ply.

      They removed the Chief from all merch almost 10 years ago. That toilet paper you saw was from the 70’s, and I don’t think it was official UIUC merch in the first place.

      Also, Chief Illiniwek is not a “mascot”. It is a symbol of the University. It is an honored tradition that has been going on for 100 years or more. Do you see the Chief goal-posting the Penn State Lion? No. Do you see him jumping up and down on the sidelines trying to get the crowd into the game? No. The Chief performs at football and basketball halftime. The person who portrays the Chief goes through months and months of training in order to portray Chief Illiniwek with respect and honor.

      The only reason this is an issue is because the Illiniwek Confederacy is dead. As Howard mentioned, the Utes in Utah and the Seminoles of Florida both approve and support the aforementioned mascots. However, Chief Illiniwek is a prime target because there is noone of that Native American decent to support the symbol.

      1. Okay. I don’t want to let Howard’s LJ devolve into a flame war by responding in an inflammatory fashion. However, I would like to clairify my point by saying that my grievance is not with the Illiniwek symbol itself, what he portrays or who portrays him. My grievance is with the manner in which the fans and businesses have treated the symbol. Whether the hief is intended to be a “mascot” or not, the fans tend to treat him as such.

        However, I believe your contention that the Chief is not a “mascot” is valid and I would be curious to debate and explore the differences between “symbol” and “mascot” with you. I have a feeling that our thoughts are actually more similar on that issue than we might realize.

        I believe your statement that the cheif was removed from Illini merch may be factually inaccurate. I do know he was removed from uniforms and all official accessories a while ago, but I’m certian the toilet paper incident I noted happened within the last ten years. Admittedly, I was disgusted and I didn’t engage the business to find out more details, but I do know the product has been available since I’ve been an adult, which only happened twelve years ago.

        If you would like to debate this issue with me futher I welcome the opportunity to have my opinions challenged and learn something from the experience. Please write me at twelvefootnine@yahoo.com and I’ll be glad to continue the conversation in private. However, please note that my return time may be a bit slow since I’m overworked at the moment.

        1. This is a total aside, but Texas Tech University has both a mascot and a symbol. There is the Red Raider, which is actually a very dignified character and then Raider Red, which bears a strong resemblance to Yosemite Sam and does all the antics on the sidelines.

          Does your university also have a mascot?

  7. We must carry the White Man’s Burden
    ‘Gainst any images
    Of other inferior races…

    Seriously, it makes me think of something Heinlein said about racism — that America was the worst place for racism, because everyone was just as racist as in other places, only they did it by a sickly patronizing and coddling and pretended they weren’t.

    **Sigh** And here I thought Kipling’s style of colonial racism was dead and gone…

  8. Well, isn’t that special. Nothing like an outraged author to generate a steaming pile of hyperbole.

    There’s no way to discuss it reasonably when you do that.

    1. Sure it’s possible. Unless you don’t have a solid arguement to counter it with. Even hyperbole can be dealt with effectively if you know what you’re doing. And good conversations and points can be brought forth. I’m on a mailing list that debates all the time and hyperbole has never stopped a good discussion.

      Unless, of course, you’re only trying to illicit guilt and emotional blackmail to win your point on (falls under the catergory of not having a solid argument). In which case, I have no sympathy for you and your hypocritical snide remarks for you are being just as emotional.

  9. Add Arkansas to the list of tribal-name-derived states.

    At least the UALR Trojan mascot is still safe, but the ASU Indians are in trouble.

    1. I’m sure that the perpetuation of upholding the culture of Troy is upsetting to those of Spartan descent… or something. We could find someone to be upset, have no fear. 🙂

  10. Because I just had to add more

    Actually, I probably can make an argument for removing the warrior image as disrespectful to American Indian culture in general. Or at least I could if I was feeling better. But here’s a rough outline of some of my source material.

    Several Indian Nations have the Warrior as holy part of their life cycle and even those that don’t, consider the Warrior-hunter as a central part of their culture. It doesn’t take much reading of the legends to figure that part out. Voices of the Wind by Margot Edmonds and Ella E. Clark is a nice collection of legends across the North American continent. If you prefer something more along the lines of modern fantasy, Sacred Ground by Mercedes Lackey is based on the Osage traditions.

    From The Teachings of the Feather:
    In the Cycle of Life, the vane is the continuation of the formative years. The children have achieved their rights of passage, a boy becomes a hunter or warrior and a girl has reached womanhood. During this phase, there is learning and guidance. The mind, the mouth, heart and hand (avenues for the spirit) are being nurtured. Example and reinforcement are given in the proper direction to strengthen their spiritual well being and identity. It is a time of enrichment, logic and proof.

    The rest of my material is from Symbols of Native America by Heike Owusu and just added as FYI on life cycle beliefs. In an actual debate, I probably wouldn’t even diagram this part, but I think it’s interesting.

    The following is a compilation of the cardinal points and what they represent to several tribes.

    EAST: far sight – spring – sunrise – birth – male – good
    Navajo color – Black
    Souix color – Yellow

    SOUTH: innocence – summer – midday – infancy – female – good
    Navajo color – Blue
    Souix color – Green

    WEST: introspection – fall – sunset – childhood – female – dangerous
    Navajo color – Yellow
    Souix color – Black

    NORTH: wisdom – winter – night – puberty – male – dangerous
    Navajo color – White
    Souix color – White

    According to Stone People legend, our lives have four parts:
    The age of learning – 0 to 12 years
    The age of accepting – 12 to 24 years
    The age of refining – 24 to 36 years
    The age of wisdom – 36 and up

    And I’m going to have to cry “uncle” right here. My stomach is saying I better lay back down before it organizes a revolt. I do have several other sources that I haven’t looked at this morning, but I’ve probably shared more than most people care to read.

  11. ADd to the list nearly every town on Long Island, NY: Merrick (where I live), named after the Meroke indians, Wantagh, Copaige, Hauppauge, Cutchogue, Massapequa, etc.etc.etc.

  12. Yet more…

    Since no one’s mentioned it I’d have to point out the entire northwest. I grew up on the convergence of the Wishkah and Chehalis rivers. Seattle would have to go to. BIG list of names that’d have to go here.

    It should ultimately be the decision of the tribe concerned. If there are no living members of said tribe, and as long as the tribe is not being used in a grossly derogatory manner, then there’s no one to be offended and it should be dropped.

    My totally worthless opinion.

  13. How much momentum does this stupid PC pendulum have left in it, anyway?
    Plenty, if there’s a name/reputation to be made protecting those who don’t want to be protected and never knew they needed protection before….

  14. I know you’re into the sarcasm and satire

    But it’s so much more complicated than that. A stereotype (as defined by Homi Baba, a rockin dude) is an arrested image. Native American/American Indian (the favored term really varies by area/person) mascots are arrested images, showing the group as only warriors or feathered dancers; naming a team after a tribe (without their permission) reduces them to a commodity. To me it is most important that we represent Native Americans/American Indians in a representative way, so much more than the savage, noble, spiritual, or dead peoples we often read about, see in the media, or learn about in school. To me, that is so much more than being PC.

    I think that changing place names is not a high priority in the ending of racism–as you note. However, I do agree that it’s rather paternalistic to institute a policy without even asking the people being tokenized.

    P.S. I do enjoy your comic 🙂

    1. Re: I know you’re into the sarcasm and satire

      Political correctness has its origins in some of the rather more noble values you describe.

      It is currently outputting way more noise than signal, though. This latest bit from the NCAA is a great example, and I’m skewering them in the hope that when (not if, WHEN) it comes time to defend something that MATTERS from destruction at the hands of those who see it as somehow demeaning to somebody, we’ll see that for what it is and finally arrest the pendulum’s swing.

      –Howard

    2. Re: I know you’re into the sarcasm and satire

      I wasn’t going to reply to this, but it just bugged me.

      I understand what you are saying about arrested images, but I also believe that heritages should be remembered and that part of our culture’s problem is that we don’t give enough reverence to our forebearers and by doing so we limit wisdom we could have available to us. I base this on the studies presented to my in my family studies classes and my own research on family archetypes. I can send you a scholarly journal article on Family Integrity that explains some of what I am talking about.

      Seeing someone just as something from the past is not good. I agree with you there. But to eliminate the symbols of the past is not a solution to the problem. To my mind, it’s not much different than when they used to put American Indian children in boarding schools to keep them from learning of their heritage – or adopting them out to European Americans (aka. what happened to my great grandmother) to Anglize them.

      Here in Oklahoma, there are still fancy dance competitions and they are truly impressive. I would not want those stopped because they harken back to a previous era. Nor would I want the folklore and history ignored.

      We need to honor the past and acknowledge the progress from it. If we begin removing those images, we cut our own roots. That’s partly what Europe and many other nations have that we don’t – active images of their past. This is what gives them a sense of permanance that we Americans are so short on.

      The solution is to honor the modern and historical Native American – not to remove history.

      1. Re: I know you’re into the sarcasm and satire

        Hm . . . I agree completely that we need to honor the Native American past, present, and future, but I don’t believe that naming sports teams after tribes or schools after stereotypes does that. I’m not sure how you got ‘I want to eliminate fancydancing/other traditional Native American activities’ out of what I wrote. How did you?

        1. Re: I know you’re into the sarcasm and satire

          I read the article and thought you had too. There was the recommendation that was insulting too.

          1. Re: I know you’re into the sarcasm and satire

            recommendation that was insulting?
            And, nope, I didn’t read the article. Sorry that wasn’t clear.

          2. Re: I know you’re into the sarcasm and satire

            The recommendation that was in the article was what I thought was a bit presumptious and insulting.

  15. NOT PC

    I just have to mention that the Seminoles were NOT a Native Tribe – until 1958 when the US Government saw fit to recognize the Seminole Tribe. There never was a Seminole “Tribe”. The Seminoles were a bunch of runaway slaves (African-Americans in todayspeak) and outcasts from several American Indian tribes (notably Cherokee, Creek and Muscogee) who inter-bred in the swamps of Florida.

    Osceola, the mascot of FSU, was not really Osceola. Osceola was a corruption of Asi Yahola (Black Drink Crier) – a cerimonial title given to a young man who called out to the God “Yahola” during the Black Drink (Asi) ceremony. Osceola’s mother was Polly Copinger, a Creek woman; she married William Powell, a white man. So ‘Osceola’ was not even a full blood anything.

    Am I biased? Some, mainly because I have Creek and Muscogee heritage – with a good dose of Welsh and Scottish to liven things up. It’s also worth noting that I am a resident of Florida.

    How do I feel about the NCAA ruling? They should leave it up to the American Indian Tribes to decide if they have feelings about the issue and take action if needed. Obviously, the Seminoles don’t have a problem, so the NCAA shouldn’t either.

    Just my $0.03

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