Dartmouth has had a long and frustrating history with their Indian mascot, and it’s an issue that won’t seem to go away, despite the best efforts of a strong campus Native community and alumni base. Since like 90% of my Native friends on the East Coast are Dartmouth Indians (I don’t know how that happened…), I’ve heard firsthand plenty of stories of horrible ignorance about mascots and Indian issues on campus. Read some of the comments on the youtube video if you don’t believe me.
UPDATE: I was just sent this article from The Dartmouth Review, which puts the youtube comments in context. Choice quote:
“First off, it trades on the idea that nicknames derived from American Indians are inherently offensive. This is a bit of a stretch, as just about every poll done on the matter has indicated that a significant majority of American Indians are completely fine with such nicknames or consider them an honor. A glance at the nicknames used at reservation high schools in my home state of South Dakota finds several tribal nicknames and even one school calling its teams the Redmen. While there is no need to doubt the legitimacy of the offense some take, it must be acknowledged that they are an aggrieved minority, and one can find an aggrieved minority for just about anything.”
Um, no. Just no. They ARE inherently offensive. Those polls you cite have been shown to have sampling and bias issues. A “significant majority” of YOUR campus community is telling you that these mascots are offensive, and that should mean something. There are plenty of people in South Dakota fighting to change those school mascots, including the state school board (all the way back in 2001), and reservation high schools that don the Indian name are totally different. There’s a difference between choosing how you represent yourself versus how outsiders represent you. That’s called power, and why the whole “fighting Irish” argument doesn’t hold up. And your last sentence is just patently dismissive and dripping with privilege.
So to those out there that think the Native students at Dartmouth are being “too sensitive” or should just “get over it”– Native mascots are demeaning and offensive. Period. There is nothing “honoring” about them. They just serve to further marginalize and erase the presence of Native peoples. So “get over” your privilege and realize that these images are hurtful and wrong.
Keep up the great work guys, I know it took a lot of guts to put yourselves out there with this, and I hope the video will open the eyes of your classmates to their insensitivity and ignorance. I also encourage other schools dealing with Indian Mascot issues to think up their own ways of pushing back–and, as always, let me know!
A selection from my (many) posts on Indian Mascots:
The Fighting Sioux are back: Part 1 (the passionate plea) and Part 2 (the science behind why mascots are harmful)
Thanks for the severed head, you’ve proved my point
A reminder of why this blog exists: One reader’s experience (A former Stanford Indian supporter)
The Stanford Indian: Then and now
and the link to the video:
Youtube: Savage That!
PS–Dartmouth folks, I’ll see you at your powwow! (Stanny friends, don’t hate me…)