I am Native American. From the proud Ohlone Tribe of the Monterey area, to be exact.
My great-great-some exponent grandfather, a soldier for Junipero Serra, was the first Spanish man to marry a Native American woman.
Call me insensitive, but I dont take offense to sports teams with Native American mascots that the politically correct populace deem racist. From the Indians to the Redskins to the Moccasins and the Tomahawks, professional and collegiate teams are littered with Native American themed mascots, and thats the way it should be. Team names reflect our great countrys history. Who are these so-called patriots to say what does and doesnt qualify as U.S. history? Seems a little too Holocaust denial-ish for my taste.
The treatment of Native Americans is an important, albeit dark and fierce, part of American history. Whites scalped the Natives and vice-versa. Why do we have to try to forget this and sweep it under the rug of American democracy? Ever since Columbuss misnomer stuck, Native Americans numbers have been on the decline. Americans need reminders of the original inhabitants of these lands. With this in mind, why cant teams in Cleveland or on 1101 Eucalyptus Dr. call themselves the Indians?
One objection is that the players on these teams are not Native American, therefore it is not proper to name teams after them. However, therein lies the hypocrisy.
The New York Yankees, a team embedded in American culture whose name literally means Caucasians from New England, has 17 players on their 40-man roster who are born outside the United States, nearly 50 percent. Where is the public outcry from the gentiles of Hartford and New Haven saying they dont want a bunch of immigrants playing for a team with a white mascot?
A second possible objection is that the actual mascots that suit up and incite fans to cheer for these Native American named teams are exceedingly stereotypical and offensive. But did every monk sport a brown tunic and a George Costanza haircut like the San Diego Padres would have you believe? And did every Viking have a long, flowing blond mane with a horned helmet? Dont tell the faithful in Minnesota. No, thats definitely not playing on stereotypes. How can Notre Dames Fighting Irish mascot, a leprechaun with his hands cocked in a boxing position, not be considered insulting while a Native American mascot wearing moccasins and a feather is instantly labeled a problem? Where in the course of American history was the double standard created that makes Native American names virtually off limits, yet at the same time leaving every European ethnicity open for amusement? Are Caucasians making a subtle attempt to compensate for generations of oppression by prohibiting the use of Indian names?
Either way, the efforts are too little and too late. We need to accept the facts. Sports are a way to put the past in the past and to help the world move on from the shameless acts that haunt its citizens. For all we know the Cold War could still be going on if the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team lost just as the Irish Need Not Apply signs of the turn of the 20th century on the east coast could still be posted if not for that loveable little leprechaun. Following the Armenian Genocide, a professional sports league could patch up the Turkish-Armenian relations.
The world still has problems. Instead of running away from the Native American issue, the United States should embrace it. This is our chance to show the world that we are still the progressive, liberal country we once were. By having Native American mascots, the United States sports scene sets a precedent for owning up to national history.
Languages evolve. The words redskins and Indians no longer have negative connotations. You wouldnt believe the type of upbeat, positive reactions I receive when I tell people Im Indian.
Im here before you to argue for the return of the fierce, loud and intimidating Lowell Indians. Legalize the Indian pride of the Lowell sports fan and take honor in it. Last year, members of the notorious Sixth Man Club were criticized for wearing Indian war paint and headdresses and performing the infamous tomahawk chop. But, I ask you, are a bunch of white people dressing up and pretending they are Native American any worse than an Asian kid wearing an Ecko shirt and Sean John pants rapping the newest Blackalicious song? Oh yes, the perennial double standard.
What better time to shatter an unjust tradition than with a new administration? The football program has taken a step in the right direction by placing stickers of two Native American looking feathers on their helmets.
So go ahead Lowellites, do the tomahawk chop and let the battle cry ring. Complete the revolution.