Thursday, August 11, 2005

No Little Indian Boys

William Lonestar Dietz I was just wondering about name changes. How can "Native Americans", be native Americans, when there was no America nor any Americans when they were natives? "Indians" too was a misnomer applied to them by Columbus and it stuck. And it has really complicated all languages since then, as when we speak of Indians, we must explain which kind of Indian; the Indians that are Hindus, or the Indians who have no connection to the Hindu religion, from which the words "India" and "Indian" originate. Writings from earlier centuries referred to American natives as "Red Indians" for this reason.

Now, have you heard the latest? The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has gone on the warpath, banning the use of Native American team names and mascots in all NCAA-sponsored postseason tournaments. They claim that Native Americans feel it to be shameful and embarrassing to have their ancestors referred to with names like "Indians," "Braves", "Warriors" or similar "hostile and abusive" words. Only after the NCAA sent out the press release did the higher-ups notice that their own letterhead of the NCAA's stationary had printed in big bold letters: "Indianapolis, Indiana".

Of course they did the only thing that was left to do - they demanded that both the city and state change its names. Since the word "Indian" has been relegated to the dust bin of racial slurs, Indianapolis, Indiana was no longer acceptable. Change it or lose us! Yes indeed, we are moving on out to ... Iowa? No. Idaho? No. How about Illinois? Oh forget it, they shouted, but don't even think about passing along that old Indian peace pipe. To those Native Americans who are none too happy about losing the few legacies left them by their Indian forebears; native words for places, animals and plants; the NCAA responded that they should get over it. Deep down you are no better than the rest of us Americans - WIMPS!

Then came the state of Florida thinking that it knew a thing or two about Indians, as it was way, way back in the 1500s when ole Ponce de Leon happened upon their "Braves", "Warriors" and other "hostile and abusive" aborigines, and ole Ponce did not live to tell about it. So, comes an already prepared Mr. T.K. Weatherall, the president of Florida State University, with written permission from the bona fide Seminole tribe of Florida that FSU is allowed to use that tribe's name. Needless to say, that didn't phase Ms. Charlotte Westerhaus, vice president for "diversity and inclusion" for the NCAA who said get lost. Somewhere, someplace there are "Other Seminole tribes," she claimed, who "are not supportive", and prefer to be wimpy couch potatoes rather than portrayed as robust athletes or, even worse, - as a Florida State Mascot (picture).

Just in case you were wondering about that famous Notre Dame mascot, "The Fighting Irish". It can stay in place and there is logic to the NCAA's reasoning. "Fighting Irish" is a real slur, therefore it is permitted. "Fighting Irish" was a pejorative used to portray Irish-American immigrants as poor, uneducated Catholics who liked to get drunk and brawl. If the athletes of Notre Dame were puffing themselves up by using mascots such as "Irish Saints", "The Holy Cardinals" or "Celtic Warriors", then the NCAA would be gleefully cutting them down to size.

The term "Redskins" was used by early Americans in the 1600s to describe Indian warriors, as they painted their skins red when going to battle. Red was the color of war and the natives had a reputation among the white settlers as being fierce fighters. Read my essay about William Dietz who was a famous Indian football player and became coach of a team that he named in honor of his fellow Indian players, the Boston Redskins. When they played they often wore red paint and native dress. It is he who is pictured above as the proud American Indian that he was. Redskins and Warpaint

Ruffles and Flourishes to "The Red Scare" by Kenneth L. Woodward. Seems that Van at Moonbattery read this same piece and now he has "his Irish up" and is demanding a "pot of gold".

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