“The Native American Mascot: Tribute or Stereotype?”

The Huffington Post 
May 28, 2012

Sam Sommers, Professor
Tufts University


In yet another chapter of a continuing debate, the State of Oregon announced last week that its public schools must discontinue the use of Native AmericanEach of the many Native American nations has its own distinctive life-ways, although there are some widely-shared characteristics. most Native life-ways are primarily transmitted through oral traditions; they are oriented toward living in relation to a sp... nicknames and mascots. The Board of Education gave state schools until 2017 to stop using team names such as “Indians,” “Chiefs,” “Braves,” and “Redskins.” Other names such as “Warriors” will still be permitted, provided that no imagery is used referring to a particular tribe, custom, or individual.

Predictably, reaction to the order has been mixed.

Supporters of the ban assert that even if the schools that use them harbor no ill-intent, the images themselves are caricatures that perpetuate stereotypesStereotyping is the ascription of generalized characteristics to a whole group of people, thus describing individuals by the characterization, usually a caricature, of the whole.. Opponents of the ban suggest that these names celebrate, rather than disparage Native American culture. And fans of the slippery slope argument would ask what, then, of the other sports nicknames that make reference to a particular group of people, whether in terms of region of origin (Vikings, Fighting Irish, Celtics), religion (QuakersThe Quaker movement, properly known as the Society of Friends, had its beginnings in 17th century England with George Fox (1624-91), whose form of worship was liturgically sparse, relying on silence and the inspiring movement of the Inner Light, the spiri..., SaintsSaints are human beings whose lives have displayed extraordinary holiness and devotion. As such they become examples for others. Indeed some of the faithful may understand them to be intermediaries and seek their help in time of need. Roman Catholics and ...), or occupation (Boilermakers, Engineers)?

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