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Indian Mascots

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Matt Jeanmougin

Indian Mascots

        In this article, we learn about how the use of the Indians and cowboys and their image can sometimes be seen as offensive and racist.  Many people believe it is wrong to use these images without first knowing who these people are or where they come from.  You also need to know what they believe in.  One man who feels very strongly about this is Dr. Michael Yellow Bird.  In the article, Toys of Genocide, Icons of American Colonialism, Dr. Yellow Bird discusses two very important issues he has with the use of these images.  He talks about the use of cowboy’s and Indian’s images being used for plastic toys for kids to play with and use their imagination.  He also talks about the master narrative he learned as a kid, which he has carried with him throughout his life.

        The use of cowboy’s and Indian’s images as plastic toys has been an issue for many years now and it is one that has a lot of people upset, the cowboys and Indians in particular.  In the article, Dr. Yellow Bird described the use of these toys as part of the colonial canon.  He says they assert a form of white supremacy and indigenous inferiority.  It is not just cowboys and Indians who find this to be offensive.  Bessie Green mentioned in her blog that she realizes how de-humanizing this can be to a culture to have their image used in such a way.  She says it would be like creating a toy Jew and toy Nazi soldier, which to most people is wrong and hurtful to society.

Kendy, in her blog, brings up the point of how cowboy and Indian’s images and clothing are used as inspiration for Halloween costumes.  She connects this back to what Bessie Green said about the Jews and Nazi soldiers.  Kendy mentions that all of these are displayed together with the idea of always have one side exterminating the other, whether it be the Nazi soldier killing the Jew or the cowboy killing the Indian.

This idea relates well back to the use of Indian’s images as mascots because in both cases the group’s images and identities are used in a way that could potentially bring harm or shame to their tribe.

        In the article, Dr. Yellow Bird discusses the master narrative and how he has absorbed this narrative as truth ever since he was a child and teenager.  He describes the master narrative as the colonizer’s falsified stories that many people believe to be true.  Within this master narrative, it discusses how cowboys and Indians represent American colonialism and the hatred and fear many Americans have towards the indigenous people.  This narrative portrays cowboys as a representation of American values of freedom, fairness, and toughness while Indians are portrayed as savage, dark-skinned, and evil.  This narrative and the idea of American colonialism and dominant ideology has done major damage to the Indian people.  This idea has brought about a continuous use of their image as the toys of genocide and icons of colonialism.

        Going back to what we have learned in class so far, there is another group of people who have gone through struggles very similar to this one.  While it may not be the exact same trouble, this group has been tossed around and used just as much as the cowboys and Indians have.  This group is the Navajo people.  In 1864, the Navajo people were forcefully removed from their homeland and sent to an area known as Bosque Redondo in New Mexico.  These people had no choice but to pack up their belongings and move to this new area.  This meant that more than eight thousand people would have to walk three hundred miles with no aid from the soldiers.  Once they arrived, they had no shelter and the agriculture of the land quickly failed, which led to their return back to their homeland four years later.  To many people this did not seem fair that they were forced to travel all that way and were allowed back that easily.  Just like the cowboys and Indian’s were used by toy companies to sell product and make money, the Navajo were used in an attempt for another group to show their dominance.

        I see this problem on a daily basis in my life, although my experience is not quite as devastating and harmful as the cowboys, Indians, or Navajos.  I was born and raised in a catholic home and because of this, I practice the catholic faith.  I strongly believe in Jesus Christ and that there is a God and when I die, I will live with him forever.  However, many people have very different opinions about this matter.  Many people around me talk about God as if he is nothing special, just another myth.  Another major thing that bothers me is when I hear people blame God for their problems and the mistakes they have made.  Deep inside, I know that it was not God’s fault and it upsets me that other people can put their blame on other people, especially the person who I believe created man-kind.



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