Friday, February 16, 2007

Mocking Native Americans

I live in Champaign-Urbana. Home of the University of Illinois. Today the University took the pathetic, small step of announcing the end to public performances at athletic halftime events of a white boy dressed up as an Indian doing clownish pretend Indian dance. NPR was all over this one (They have a thing about Indian mascots--see previous post).

Instead of covering the long struggle against this mock-Indian vaudeville halftime show, NPR decided to interview one of the former white guys who was dressed up as the mascot, "chief illiniwek." That's the only person they spoke to! And then they ended the story with the equally offensive Illinois marching band let's-play-Indian song.

It's sad that they didn't see fit to call up the brave Charlene Teters, one of the first organizers against the University mascot. They also might have taken a look at the American Indian Movement website against mascots. I'd recommend that Michelle Norris and the producers of the show take a look at the Tolerance.org site on Native American mascots.

Lastly, if you can stand it and want to see what the mascot looks like this is a site of photos.

5 comments:

ulf said...

Champaign-Urbana! Have you met Bob McChesney? He is great.

publia.padena said...

Go to Youtube and search "gathering of nations." Choose one of the "fancy dance" entries. Then explain to me why The Chief's dance is demeaning to Native Americans. After viewing them I simply don't undertand.

publia.padena said...

Go to Youtube and search "gathering of nations." Choose one of the "fancy dance" entries. Then explain to me why The Chief's dance is demeaning to Native Americans. After viewing them I simply don't undertand.

Mytwords said...

Hi Padena, I've been to Pow Wows and seen fancy dances and I've been to the half-time at the UI and seen the "chief" dance. The fancy dances I've seen have been done as a group activity following the rhythms of a drum circle. When I saw the "chief" dance it was 1993 or 1994 and I had thought maybe the chief issue was overblown -- instead I was appalled(sp): he leaped high, did splits, jitterbug steps, phony solemnity, etc...I was really embarrassed to be there. Not to mention that what right does a University have to use a mimic of an Indian (even if it were done authentically) as it's sports symbol? Good question though...

Mytwords said...

ULF, Yes, I've met Bob. Of course he does his show "Media Matters" every Sunday at 1:00pm on our local NPR station (WILL AM 580). I also heard him talk at the Media Reform Conference.

BTW, his show on our local station draws the greatest amount of membership pledges compared to any other hourly show--sends a great message to our local station which does some great programming besides the NPR junk.