Wednesday, August 17, 2005

the seminole name change

from the Tallahassee Democrat.

Posted on Wed, Aug. 17, 2005

Mascot 'honor' is really an insult

By Tim Giago


The final paragraph in a recent editorial in the Rapid City (S.D.) Journal gave me a real laugh. It reads, "The NCAA has finally recognized that the use of Indian names, logos and mascots are offensive to the Indians and cannot be used at NCAA-sponsored events. It's about time."

It's about time? I wrote my first column for the Rapid City Journal about using Indians as mascots in 1982. That was 23 years ago. Since that time I have written many more columns for the newspaper on mascots. Not once in those 23 years did the editors of the paper write an editorial agreeing or disagreeing with my stance.

They continue to use "Redskin" on their sports pages, and they have the audacity to say; "It's about time?"

The newspaper didn't care one whit as long as only Indians were complaining. It took an action by the mostly white organization, the National Collegiate Athletic Association, to open the editors' heretofore-sealed eyes.

The NCAA ruling was a small victory for those of us who have protested the use of Indians as mascots for the past 20 years. It states that the NCAA did not have the authority to force schools to drop Indian mascots or nicknames but they could bar the use of Indian mascots from postseason playoffs that are sanctioned by them. The NCAA also pinpointed a couple of teams that use mascots offensively. One was Florida State University's use of the Seminole Tribe's name.

The uproar at FSU is that the Seminole Tribe approves of its use as mascots. I think the chairman of the Seminole Nation should attend the next FSU football game and allow the fans to put a collar and leash around his neck and lead him around the 50-yard line at halftime. As a matter of fact, since the Seminoles do not mind that their name appears on sweatshirts and T-shirts as "Noles," they should shorten their tribal name to "Noles" in order to accommodate the FSU fans.

I believe it is about time that the National Congress of American Indians and the National Indian Education Association censor those Indian tribes that would demean all other Indian nations by allowing their good names to be associated as mascots for America's fun and games.

How can they consider it an honor to be mimicked, aped and insulted at sporting events? As I have said many times before, if there were a team mascot called "Zulu," would blacks consider it an honor to see white fans paint their faces black, put on African attire and wave spears in the air at football games? I think not!

There are benefits to the NCAA decision. First of all it put an issue the majority of Indian people have been fighting for on the front burner. Charlotte Teters, a member of the Spokane Tribe, responded to the trumped-up Sports Illustrated survey on the use of Indians as mascots. It was a survey so rigged by SI that it falsely indicated that most Indians loved to be mascots. She referred to a survey that ran in my former newspaper, Indian Country Today, which was then the largest Indian newspaper in America, showing just the opposite results.

Discussing Indians as mascots is like arguing politics or religion with hard-core fanatics. The word "fan," incidentally, is derived from "fanatics." These fans have never walked in our moccasins and they will never know how we feel. They will never know the difference between an "insult" and an "honor." If anyone wants to honor Indians, honor our treaties.

The president of the NCAA, Myles Brand, wrote a brilliant editorial in the Aug. 11 issue of USA Today. He wrote, "Imitation, it is said, is the highest form of flattery. But when it is viewed in the eyes of those being portrayed as hostile and abusive - no matter how well-intended - imitation becomes the lowest form of disrespect and insult."

If a conservative newspaper like the Rapid City Journal can admit its past mistakes, so can many others. The mascot issue has been under the nose of the Journal editors for more than 23 years in the columns I wrote for them. And now they finally admit I was right. I laughed at the editorial because I was stunned by it. But, as their editorial goes, "It's about time."

Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is president of the Native American Journalists Foundation Inc. Contact him at



I live in tallahssee, fla, the home of FSU, Florida State University.
the FSU team is called "the Seminoles".
There have been recent attempts to have the name changed, even the Athletic governing body, that goverens the team associations, have now joined the fry to ban the team name.

I suspect that this will be enivitible! The day will come when no team of any school will have an Indian name.

I can see it now, on the first game day, here at FSU! 10,000 demonstrators appear and block the stadium, the smell of tear gas fills the air, to greet the fans!
The overhead blimp films it all live, to send coast to coast.
Then next week 50,000+ people march on Washington, and the PETA, Vegan, and other animal rights people enter this fight, a law is submitted that will ban ALL schools
from using either racial names or animal names.
It is passed.
No living thing can be used, the law says, for grade schools to college to professional sports!

While all of this "battle" might be just a bit of my overblown Imagination, the Confrontation, i feel, *if* this occurs, will determine our collective future!
Thus if the "Name change" wins, or the "keep the race/animal names as they are", wins; I could then "predict" what kind of collective Road our country will go down, for the next 20 years.

At this point in time, i am not sure what would constitute a "victory" or a "defeat"!

At the rate this mindset is going, on one hand, soon the Dancers will be waering lead weights so that their superior dance ability will not offend those people who are clumsey, and art painters will be required by law to paint with boxing gloves on their hands so that their talant will not be obnoxious to us all!


there was a time when *everyone* used the word "Niger"! Even many of the blacks!
Coal miners earned $1.00 a day under poor working conditions.
Times Change, and awareness does too, leaving the "unchanging people" back in the dust!