Professor Tsosie’s excellent Federal Lawyer article on identity and sports mascots is available below. Her longer law review article on these subjects is available here.
To view the original article on TurtleTalk, click here.
DENVER — Monday, April 18, 2016 — Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Governor’s Commission to Study American Indian Representation in Public Schools today released their final report on the use of mascots and imagery in Colorado public schools. The group was joined by William (Bill) Mendoza, the executive director of White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.
“This Commission has charted a path forward for Colorado with a willingness to work together through conversation and collaboration,” said Hickenlooper. “We are grateful to everyone who participated in this process. Their hard work gives us all a better understanding of each other and the complexities of this issue.”
Representatives from federally recognized tribes, Colorado’s American Indian population, institutions of public education, state agencies, and community stakeholders make up the 15 member commission. The Commission was created by the governor in 2015 through executive order.
After five months of community meetings and discussion, the Commission established four guiding principles that can be taken on by local communities, educational institutions, state agencies and organizations. The four guiding principles that are outlined in the report include:
“Through participation in this Commission, our tribe was able to see the lack of education and awareness around American Indian history and culture in Colorado’s public schools,” said Chairman Clement Frost, Southern Ute Indian Tribe. “We believe it is incumbent upon our Tribe, the State of Colorado, and Colorado public schools to recognize the role of American Indians in Colorado’s history and to ensure that this history is taught comprehensively and accurately.”
The Commission was invited by four communities with American Indian mascots to engage in a discussion about the ongoing struggle for local traditions versus the desire to treat American Indians respectfully and honor their history and culture.
“The recommendations made by Governor Hickenlooper and the Commission are not only needed and appropriate, they are consistent with the concerns raised by native youth across the country, who are calling upon education decision-makers to address harmful Native-themed imagery so that all students, particularly Native Americans, experience a safe and welcoming school environment,” said William (Bill) Mendoza, executive director, White House Initiative on American Indian and Alaska Native Education.
“As an administrator, emphasizing respect for all cultures and for all people is one of our most important educational missions,” said Jeff Rasp Principal at Strasburg High School. “Our partnership with the Arapaho tribe has been one of the most beneficial experiences ever for our school.”
“The use of American Indian mascots creates an opportunity for schools and tribes to engage in meaningful relationships with one another,” said Chairman Manuel Heart, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe. “Schools like Strasburg High School are positive examples of a way in which the use of a mascot can be the catalyst for fostering a respectful, educational, and unique partnership that also acknowledges the sovereignty of American Indian nations.”
To see a full copy of the report, please visit here.
Like most students, Eaton High School senior Karalee Kothe had never thought about her school’s mascot — the Fightin’ Reds — really deeply.
Then last year, she heard about state lawmakers who were pushing a bill that would have created a committee to review the use of potentially offensive Indian mascots. If the committee – or a tribe – found one to be offensive and the school still had the mascot after two years, it would face a fine of $25,000 a month.
The bill didn’t pass, but it got Kothe thinking.
“I was like, ‘hey what about our mascot’?” said Kothe, who’s also the editor of the Red Ink, the newspaper for the school located just north of Greeley.
The Eaton mascot is plastered in the middle of the gym floor, on the walls, on students’ uniforms. It’s a cartoon-like caricature of a Native American.
“He’s in an aggressive stance, so it’s just not very realistic and many would say it’s not very honorable for Native Americans,” said junior Devan McKenney.
To read the entire article, click here.
A study recently released by the University of Montana has determined that the use of American Indian mascots causes ‘detrimental societal consequences’.
Justin Angle, Associate Professor at the University of Montana School of Business Administration, along with researchers from the University of Washington and Washington State, said the study focused on Native American brand imagery.
“The study focuses on the concept of ethnic brand imagery,” Angle said. “It’s commonly used most prominently in American Indian sports mascots. What we set out to do was examine whether or not they actually active and then perpetuate stereotypes in the broader population. That’s a claim that’s been made time and time again by social commentators, yet, until now, has lacked any empirical support.”
Angle explained how the study was conducted.
“We exposed people to an American Indian mascot they were not familiar with, and they then completed what is called an ‘implicit association test’,” he said. “It measures memory and strength of association over various concepts. We found that after exposure to the American Indian mascot, they exhibited a stronger association of American Indians with the concept of being ‘warlike’. This effect was particularly strong in liberals, more so than in conservatives.”
Angle said the concept of being considered ‘warlike’ is negative.
“We definitely see the concept of being ‘warlike’ as a negative stereotype,” he said. “The notion that exposure to these images strengthens these stereotypes I think adds weight to the already compelling social commentary calling for the retirement as such mascots.”
A pretest survey found the Cleveland Indians as the most offensive mascot, while the Atlanta Braves tested as the least offensive.
To watch the video/hear the audio, click here.