Wannabe? Why the NCAA and the NFL are so attached to Native American Mascots
The idea of being in touch with nature and the primitive. Being attached to horses, superior hunters, a community, rituals of manhood, bravery, and the noble savage. The use of native tribes names and imagery for our blood sports is the ultimate culmination of a cultural genocide. To take away the history of hundreds of tribes and reduce them to a character in a movie or a logo on a college sport t-shirt. To excuse the slaughter and apartheid this country created so many myths about Native Americans. I suppose I feel less responsible for the land grab and slaughter because half of my ancestors did not get to America from Sicily until the late 1890’s. By then most tribes had been forced onto reservations. Colonialism is a curiosity to the white European. It is quaint and something we had nothing to do with. Even today the vestiges of colonialism linger because white people can take cultural stereotypes of Native Americans and associate them with their institutes of higher learning.
Are we really this tone deaf to the damage that colonialism and racism cause? Until the NCAA and NFL stop fighting for their right to use offensive imagery then I will continue to feel ashamed of the part of my ancestry that is Anglo. The concept of tribes and being inducted into manhood through summer camps indoctrinates the tone deaf of America and tells them that painting their faces at a sporting event and having a Native American stereotype mascot is “not racism”. Perhaps it is not. Perhaps it is the continuation of the show of dominance the white man feels he needs to prove over all others and the killing off of all proof that whites stole this land. The proud identity and history is reduced to tokens and trinkets. Native Americans were the descendants of people who walked across a land bridge 12,000 or more years ago. Can any of us claim that we have been anywhere that long?
South Park’s Washington Redskins episode was beautiful in it’s tackle of Goodell and Snyder and the offensiveness of Native American stereotypes as mascots. And the beauty of making a “company” that does nothing. Perfect.