White Men Love Their Mascots
- Indian Comics Irregular #182
Sometimes it seems the parade of Indian mascots and stereotypes will never end. Here are the latest examples in the news:
In April, the Spirit Lake Sioux tribe voted in favor of the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" nickname. Apparently these Indians don't mind being stereotyped as one-dimensional warriors.
An Inuit tourist noticed that New Zealanders eat marshmallow candies called Eskimos. They're shaped like little people in parkas and advertised with igloo illustrations.
On Tax Day, Fox News followers staged phony "tea parties" across the nation to protest bailouts, deficits, or a black man as president--it's hard to tell which. Some dressed up as stereotypical chiefs and other Indians, with slogans such as "Paleface Taxes Too High" and "Let Little Brave Keep Wampum."
In March, a Burning Man crew advertised a "Go Native" dance in Oakland, California. People were supposed to come in Native "costume" and party in Native "theme rooms." Fortunately, AIM West managed to shut down the event.
A company is selling eyewear based on the Inuit snow goggles. Alas, it chose to call them Slanties, an insult to Asian people.
At Carpinteria High School in central California, school board members voted to keep their stereotypical "Warriors" name and Plains chief mascot. Supporters trotted out the usual arguments about "honoring" Indians--even though Indians don't consider mascots an honor.
In Italy, the government launched an anti-drinking program called Operation Red Nose. Its emblem was--you guessed it--a stereotypical Indian chief with a big red nose.
Australia's Tourist Board ran commercials in which an aboriginal man-child sends stressed-out Anglos on "walkabout" vacations with pixie dust. This bolsters the widespread notion that indigenous people have magical powers.
Chasco, Florida, continues to hold an annual festival in which people deck themselves out in buckskins, feathers, and beads. Like New Orleans's Mardi Gras "Indians," these wannabes are stereotypical.
Fashion designer Christian Audigier held a show supposedly based on Native cultures. What that meant was a lot of fringe, feathers, jewelry, and exposed skin.
Red Bull has run commercials in which Indian lovers in separate tipis send smoke signals to each other. For about the millionth time, outdated Plains Indian stereotypes serve to (mis)represent all Indians.
Graham Greene and Tinsel Korey have joined the cast of "New Moon," the "Twilight" sequel that features Quileute werewolves. The filmmakers also hired several young Native actors to play the "Wolf Pack"--after people criticized them for casting non-Native Taylor Lautner as Jacob Black.
The First Americans in the Arts had to cancel their annual ceremony because of poor ticket sales. As you may recall, I attended the previous ceremonies and reported on them.
I recently published articles in Indian Country Today on Southern California's film festivals, the Creative Spirit script competition, "The Exiles," NBC's "Crusoe," and non-Natives cast as Natives. Check them out at http://www.bluecorncomics.com/pechanga.htm if you're interested.
The documentary series "We Shall Remain"--five takes on key moments in Native history--is playing on PBS now. So far it looks good. Stay tuned for my reviews in Newspaper Rock and here.
For more on Native-themed movies, go to http://www.bluecorncomics.com/namovies.htm .
Blue Corn Comics