A Firsthand Account of Reed College’s 2014 Vine Deloria, Jr. Lecture Series on Native American Mascots

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Editor’s Note: This article is special to the Native News Online by Anthony Roy, who manages the “This Should Be The Blackhawks Logo!” blog. Roy attended the 2014 Vine Deloria Lecture Series: #ChangeTheName REDSK*NS – Native American Mascots and the Perpetuation of Stereotypes held in Portland, Oregon on April 24, 2014.

PORTLAND, OREGON — When I first caught word of Reed College’s Vine Deloria Speakers Series and its all-star lineup of Native American activists and academics, I knew I wanted to be there.

The event opened with traditional Native dancing and drumming by the Portland American Indian drum group, “Bulls and Bears.” The dancers came from the Native American Youth and Family Center Portland.

Vine Delroia Lecture Series Panel at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

Vine Delroia Lecture Series Panel at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.

The moderator Adrienne Keene (Cherokee), host of the blog called “Native Appropriations,” addressed questions to the panelists and asked about their involvement and origins in the activism of Native Imagery in sports, which spawned healthy discourse on the hurdles Native American activists face. The panelists possessed strong and well researched talking points that sometimes go against the popular mindset of American culture.

The panel consisted of activist including Gregg Deal (Pyramid Lake Paiute), Se-ah-dom Edmo (Shoshone-Bannock, Nez Perce & Yakama), Cornel Pewewardy (Comanche & Kiowa),  and Charlene Teters (Spokane).

Anthony Roy

Anthony Roy

This opportunity to network with like-minded activists was a pleasant surprise. This was the first meeting I have attended that included so many like-minded activists who are promoting the same goal.

I have it astonishing how knowing each other’s work through social media online blogging, art or published writing fills in the gap between first introductions to “hey, it’s like I’ve known you forever!”

I manage a Facebook community page on the harmful effects of Native American Imagery in popular media focusing on the Chicago Blackhawks Hockey League and their use of Indian Imagery and Native misappropriation.

Here are my take-a-ways on the different panelist as they voiced their advice:

Cornel Pewewardy: There is nothing new about this fight against our representation in sports. Pewewardy has been at this battle for over four decades and we should remember this when others turn the table and say “why now?” … Where were the Indians all these years ago on this issue?

Gregg Deal: Activism and art go hand-in-hand, by creating visual representations of the struggle and point of view that is so hard for non-Natives to see eye-to-eye with Native American communities.

Se-ah-dom Edmo: The key to liberating our Native communities and children across Indian country from the harmful effects of Native Imagery in sports is to fight on a legislative level. Se-ah-dom was able to take this issue to state level, campaign and branching out to allies; the end result was passing a statewide ban on Native American Mascots and logos for the entire state of Oregon for grades K-12.

Charlene Teters: Do not let the stereotypical “go to” arguments used to derail you from your end goals and mindset, whether it’s from popular leading news outlets, internet trolls, your own community or your family. Don’t let them take you out of the fight.

Each speaker could have hosted their own hour or so workshops or presentation, and many have. These conversations and opportunities to meet are important, with the popular culture realizing we as Native people have started to reexamine the “Honor” that Native mascots and logos are intended to represent, we can only hope that acclaimed Native speakers, such as the ones at this event, are given the opportunity to gather and tour the entire nation. All are committed to this work and people gain an incredible perspective to the work currently being done.

Anthony Roy, Ojibway of M’Chigeeng First Nations Ontario, Canada. Activist for the representation of Native American Imagery in media, primarily on sports. The Creator of “This Should Be The Blackhawks Logo!” a blog focused on the harmful effects of Native Imagery in sports. 

Website: www.thisshouldbetheblackhawkslogo.com

This Should Be The Blackhawks Logo’s Facebook Page: facebook.com/blackhawklogo

Twitter: twitter.comlamunky

Tumblr: labmunky.tumblr.com

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