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Negotiate a compromise for mascots

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.newsreview.info/article/20071025/SPORTS/71025041/-1/sports Negotiate a compromise for mascots ROB McCALLUM , rmccallum@newsreview.info October 25,
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 26, 2007

      Negotiate a compromise for mascots

      ROB McCALLUM , rmccallum@...
      October 25, 2007

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      Perhaps the greatest compromise is one that occurs between extreme
      opposites. People with different opinions have to go farther and sacrifice
      more to reach an understanding.

      The Native American mascot controversy has embroiled Oregon, with a
      considerable backlash to the State Board of Education considering banning
      Indians, Braves and Warriors as mascots.

      On one side, you have a race of people who feel insulted by their depiction
      as a mascot. On the other, you have people proud of their school and its

      If the weeks since the issue came to statewide attention have proved
      anything, it’s that there is a lot of distance between the two sides.

      When such distance occurs between people, it’s easy to forget about the
      face behind an argument. The 14 schools in Oregon that have Native American
      mascots — Indians, Braves, Warriors — feel blindsided by the board of

      But what triggered the proposal to ban these mascots was a person, a young
      Siletz Indian named Che Butler. While playing basketball for Taft High
      School in Lincoln City, Butler’s younger brother witnessed a halftime show
      at Molalla High where two mascot in buckskins and chicken feathers danced
      around each other.

      They were offended. It’s a reaction you can’t deny. You can say you
      wouldn’t be offended in their shoes. You can talk about Fightin’ Irish and
      Vikings. You can say mascots honor Indians. But on that night, in that gym,
      Che Butler and his younger brother were hurt. You hear stories just like
      this all over the country.

      Southern Oregon University’s mascot was once the Red Raiders of the Rogue.
      Their logo was a cartoonish, cross-legged Indian. Practices like the
      tomahawk chop, drumming and war chants were common at athletic events.

      This all occurred miles from where some of the bloodiest Indian battles and
      massacres in the state took place in the1850s.

      In the 1980s, predicting a controversy like the one currently involving
      Oregon high schools, SOU — then known as Southern Oregon College — gave
      their mascot an overhaul.

      “Red” was dropped from the nameplate, and the smiling Indian was replaced
      by a Red-Tailed Hawk, an animal revered by tribes in the Rogue Valley. They
      kept the name Raiders, the school colors and the athletic tradition.

      It was meeting halfway in a touchy area, on a touchy subject.

      Here in Roseburg I think both sides of the issue are much closer. There is
      no cartoonish, cross-legged Indian. There were no bloody massacres. The
      feather depicted on Indian uniforms is subtle and graceful. The Cow Creek
      Band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indians has stated that the mascot issue is not
      their fight.

      In essence, a compromise has already been made.

      Roseburg High’s feather instead of an Indian in a headdress is a more
      subtle change, but it gets the same results.

      The Cow Creek band of the Umpqua Tribe of Indian’s stance that changing
      mascot names is not a priority speaks volumes. The fact that Douglas County
      was largely void of ugly battles like the ones that took place in Jackson,
      Josephine, Curry and Coos Counties makes relations easier today.

      Nevertheless, compromises like the ones made at SOU and Roseburg High can
      be easily achieved.

      It can be as simple as displaying a feather instead of a cartoon character.
      It can be as extensive as an entire redesign. It could even be an
      acknowledgment: “We understand your plight and can empathize.”

      The distance between two points of view isn’t that far away.

      • You can reach sports reporter Rob McCallum by e-mail at
      rmccallum@..., or by phone at 957-4221.
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