News and Events: We Are Still Here Conference March 11, Maine becomes first state to ban Native American mascots, and more

News and events in this blog:

  • We own this now: A play about love of land, loss of land, and what it means to “own” something. Feb. 28
  • We Are Still Here Conference, March 11, and the We Are Still Here Advocacy Day, March 12
  • Maine becomes first state to ban Native American mascots
  • Canada attempting to change citizenship oath to include respect for Indigenous treaties

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News and Events: MMIW March fundraiser, pipeline updates and more

In this blog:

  • Minneapolis MMIW March fund raiser Saturday, Feb. 8, 5-7 p.m.
  • Pipeline updates: “A Giant Step Backwards” report and citizen pipeline monitors
  • Federal legislative updates: Indigenous languages preservation act renewed, Little Shell Tribe gets recognition
  • Indian Country Today blasts San Francisco, Kansas City championship game as the “Genocide Bowl”

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The Kansas City Chiefs name represents a form of cultural appropriation, but the backstory is more bizarre than you think

The Washington football team has received considerable criticism over the years for its offensive name, and deservedly so. Less well known is the story behind how the Kansas City NFL franchise got the name “Chiefs,” and its ties to Boy Scout history.

There are several versions of the story, but one consistent thread in the telling is that the team is  named after a white man who appropriated Native traditions for the Boy Scouts — and who went by the nickname “Chief.”

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Indian’s Give Chief Wahoo the Hook, But Team’s Announcement Lacks Integrity

One of many versions of the Chief Wahoo logo, 1946-1950. (Wikimedia Commons)

Buckling to pressure from Major League Baseball (MLB), the Cleveland Indians will stop using the Chief Wahoo mascot on their uniforms and stadium displays starting next year, according to a New York Times report.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred had pushed for the change, the story said. In announcing the decision, Indian’s Chairman and Chief Executive Paul Dolan failed to take a principled stand.

“We have consistently maintained that we are cognizant and sensitive to both sides of the discussion,” Dolan said in a statement issued by M.L.B. “While we recognize many of our fans have a longstanding attachment to Chief Wahoo, I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo from our uniforms in 2019.”

Here’s three big problems with the team’s announcement.

The first is the team’s one-year delay in implementing the decision: If the team truly believed the image was offensive, it would have stopped using it right now.

Second is the team’s decision to continue to profit from a racist image: While Chief Wahoo will not appear on team uniforms after this year, fans will still be able to buy Chief Wahoo gear at the stadium souvenir shops and other northern Ohio retail outlets, the story said. (Seems like Dolan trying to thumb his nose at MLB.)

Third is the team’s lack of an apology: Most disappointing in Dolan’s statement is that he attributes the change to Manfred — not Native pressure.  “I’m ultimately in agreement with Commissioner Manfred’s desire to remove the logo,” he said. That’s not an apology. That’s not a recognition that this mascot is offensive. It’s one rich white man saying he is willing to yield to a request from another rich white man, not to the deep wishes — and deep pain — of Native American communities.

It’s clear the team is not making a moral decision. That’s tragic.

U.S. Supreme Court OKs Trademarks with Racial Slurs, Could Undercut Efforts to Force Washington Reds*ins Name Change

A U.S. Supreme Court decision approves the use of a racial slur as a trademark, according to a National Public Radio story.

Members of the Asian-American rock band The Slants have the right to call themselves by a disparaging name, the Supreme Court says, in a ruling that could have broad impact on how the First Amendment is applied in other trademark cases.

That opens the door for other slurs to be trademarked, for instance the Washington Reds*ins. Indian Country Today ran a story: Supreme Court: Yes, You Can Trademark Disparaging Racial Slurs Like R-Word quotes an official with the Washington football team as being “thrilled” with the decision. Others plan continue to fight sports teams’ use of Indian mascots. Continue reading