Negotiate a compromise for mascots
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, its that there is a lot of distance between the two sides.
When such distance occurs between people, its 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, Butlers younger brother witnessed a halftime show
at Molalla High where two mascot in buckskins and chicken feathers danced
around each other.
They were offended. Its a reaction you cant deny. You can say you
wouldnt 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 Universitys 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
In essence, a compromise has already been made.
Roseburg Highs 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 Indians 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 isnt that far away.
You can reach sports reporter Rob McCallum by e-mail at
rmccallum@..., or by phone at 957-4221.