MASCOT: Don't know much about history. . .
Posted on Tue, Aug. 16, 2005
Don't know much about history. . .
OUR OPINION: INSULTING TO MAKE LIGHT OF GENOCIDE AGAINST INDIANS
Three prominent Floridians, ardent Florida State University boosters, have
embarrassed all residents of the state with their insulting,
ignorance-riddled comments about the infamous ''Trail of Tears'' and the
Seminole Tribe of Oklahoma. They owe more than an apology to the Oklahoma
Seminoles. They owe one to Floridians, too. Then the three -- state Sen.
Jim King and FSU President T.K. Wetherell and trustee Robert McFarlain --
should sign up for an American-history course at the college they so
errantly tried to defend.
The three indulged in incorrect and offensive comments about the Oklahoma
tribe last week after the NCAA announced restrictions on college displays
of American Indian nicknames and imagery, including FSU's Seminoles sports
teams. Believing that the Oklahoma tribe officially opposed FSU's use of
their name, while the Florida Seminole Tribe supports it, Messrs. King,
Wetherell and McFarlain made disparaging comments about the Oklahomans,
whose ancestors were victims of the genocidal U.S. government policy of the
1800s known as the Trail of Tears. The government force-marched thousands
of Indians from their ancestral homes west to Oklahoma. Countless people
died along the way in one of the country's more shameful chapters.
About 200 Seminoles escaped to Florida and waged a long war with the U.S.
government. They are the ancestors of today's Florida Seminoles.
Inveighed Mr. McFarlain about the Oklahomans: ''They got run out of here,
by who was it, Andrew Jackson? The Trail of Tears. The real Seminoles
stayed here.'' For good measure, he added that he could ''care less what
the Seminoles in Oklahoma think.'' Here's Sen. King: ''They're the ones
that gave up and went to the reservation,'' about the Oklahoma tribe.
President Wetherell, in a comment about the NCAA decision brought on by
Indian tribes' pressure, said, ``maybe the Trail of Tears should have gone
farther, I don't know.''
Apparently, what none of these gentlemen knew was that the Oklahoma tribe
supported FSU's use of their name, though some tribe members oppose it.
After their collective insults, however, it would be easy to understand if
the tribe changed its view. The tribe has graciously accepted the apologies
of Messrs. King and McFarlain. Whether it has heard from Mr. Wetherell
isn't known at this writing. The tribe's ultimate decision to back FSU may
be in some doubt, though, thanks to the trio's case of foot-in-mouth
What the three did get right is that the NCAA's imposition on FSU is wrong.
The school and the Florida tribe cooperate, and the tribe says that the
college's representation of Seminoles is respectful. Would that the three
FSU boosters had emulated the school they sought to defend.
© 2005 Herald.com and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.