The Absurdity of Taking on Indian Names

COMMENTARY

One Sign - Four negative connotations

One Sign – Four negative connotations

I received a text with the above embedded photo today from my oldest son who lives in Los Angeles while I took a Sunday afternoon nap. The sign was in front of a Sonic restaurant in Belton, Missouri.

My son’s accompanying message to me: “Now that’s some solid racism.”

He also mentioned the economy of language.  Given English Literature was one of his collegiate majors, it made sense he noticed the economy of language.

The clever author of the message board was able to fit four offensive connotations onto one sign under the guise of sportsmanship.  It was an exercise in the economy of language – or words.

The four offensive and negative connotations:

Scalp – The implication is American Indians practiced scalping historically. American history is full of the myth American Indians went around scalping people.

Ask American Indian traditionalists and historians, you would get a different answer. There is little evidence that prior to European/American influence on this continent, American Indians practiced scalping. However, there is evidence that during the Revolutionary War, there were written documents that money was given to those who brought in scalps of American Indians. Unfortunately, the practice spread westward. During the 1800s, non-Indians in California were paid for American Indian scalps.

Redsk!ns – The usage in the context of the sign was simply the Kansas City NFL team was playing the Washington NFL team on Sunday.

The author’s usage further gives merit for the Washington NFL team to change its name. The “R” word is equivalent to the “N” word to American Indians. This year there is a renewed effort to have the name changed for the Washington NFL team. Even President Obama weighed in earlier this fall to have the name changed.

Whiskey – The word whiskey is an obvious implication that American Indians are a bunch of drunks and cannot handle alcohol. Of course, we all know Irish people who drink too much. We all know Puerto Ricans who drink excessively. We know Polish, African Americans, and others who drink too much.

The author’s usage is blatant use of an old stereotype about American Indians that should be not be perpetuated in 2013.

Reservations – Historically American Indians were rounded up and confined to reservations. While the attachment to tribal lands is still significant to American Indians today, the implication that American  Indians should sent to reservations is a misguided notion today.

In the 2010, the U.S Census Bureau reported some two-thirds of American Indians live off-reservations across the United States.

Honoring Who?

There is an argument that when sports teams use American Indian names or images, it is done to honor us. The message contained on the sign demonstrates the absurdity of taking on Indian names.  There was absolutely no honor for American Indians contained in the message on the sign.

My son was right in his text to me. The message was solid racism. One more time a non-Native person took the liberty to banter American Indians and culture because supposedly American Indians are fair game and it does not matter what we think.

RELATED: http://nativenewsonline.net/currents/sonic-drive-employee-reprimanded-putting-racist-sign/

The author is obviously a Kansas City Chief fan. While the intent was to be clever, the message was nothing short of pure racism. The problem is the author probably does not “get it.”

Most non-Indians don’t.

If it really matters, the Kansas City NFL team beat the Washington NFL team 45 -10. The American Indian-related names had nothing to do with their athleticism.

Editor’s Note:  Due to the offensive nature of name of the Washington NFL team, tt is the policy of the Native News Online not to use the name in print. However, since the offensive word was used in the photograph, this publication is making an exception in this article.

UPDATED: December 08, 2013, EST; and December 09, 2013 at 12:29 pm, EST

 

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