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VIEWPOINT: A genocide of the mind

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  • Robert Schmidt
    http://www.grandforksherald.com/articles/index.cfm?id=57598 VIEWPOINT: A genocide of the mind By Chase Iron Eyes Published Sunday, November 18, 2007 AURORA,
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 20, 2007

      VIEWPOINT: A genocide of the mind

      By Chase Iron Eyes
      Published Sunday, November 18, 2007

      AURORA, Colo. - The heart of the problem is a conceptual flaw in the
      practice of using Indian logos. We don't want change simply because we
      disagree semantically with the word “Sioux”. No, we want change because our
      very identity is under attack.

      This issue is not about Indians complaining about degrading treatment from
      non-Indians. This is about our own existence.

      Since we lost control of our spiritual self-determination, it has been very
      hard for our children to learn that their sense of self-worth comes from
      our living religion.

      A transformation happened when a collective Euro-American consciousness
      began to dictate what is the essence of an American Indian. This
      transformation made the existence of Indian nicknames possible.

      But the practice of using Indian nicknames is evidence of that
      transformation. This transformation also is called “objectification.”

      The most devastating aspect of Indians as nicknames and logos is the
      objectification of our race.

      Objectification goes back to the days of the papal bulls that claimed
      non-Christians had no rights of their own, as well as to stories about the
      white experience in Indigenous country. Stories were widespread about “the
      savage red men just beyond the frontier.”

      The very fact that a group of folks tried to “define” a culture
      demonstrates that “Sioux” identity was under attack from a forceful
      objectification that would supplant all conceptions, even our own, of
      Indian identity.

      No longer are we living our identity; we are looking at it through a lens
      created by the European - a lens in which Indians are inferior and whites
      are superior. We are looking through a lens created and shown by the use of
      Indians as team nicknames and mascots.

      Inevitably, we judge our own “Indianness” based on the whole of our life
      experiences and learning. Largely, the whole of our learning consists of
      foreign perceptions and views on the world, learned in schools, on TV and
      from other outlets.

      Creating a team name based on a race of people makes it easier for Indians
      and non-Indians to sense that object group (Indians) as something different
      than the group using the nickname (humans).

      This process is dehumanization. It is the subtle shift in thinking that
      takes place when we are used as team nicknames.

      The Indian nickname dilemma is so dangerous because it is doing significant
      damage while a large portion of us are unaware of it. Because the
      objectification of Indians is so widespread, accepted and
      institutionalized, we unwittingly buy into the idea that Indian team
      nicknames are harmless.

      In reality, this objectification is undercutting our self-esteem and it is
      damaging the way the world sees us.

      It is our cultural/intellectual resources being taken from us - our
      identity. We get nothing but ridicule and disdain for our faiths, cultures
      and identities. Our kids and people are still subjected to scorn for our
      identity when they see that our essence is being objectified.

      Why has the Indian nickname and logo remained? People see this as something
      not affecting their day-to-day lives. But make no mistake, the problem is
      not abstract; this practice causes damage to our own individual and
      national self esteem.

      By not allowing our essence to be misappropriated and outright disrespected
      by others, we are promoting proper spiritual, mental and emotional health
      for our wicoicage or future generations. We will not see this debate go
      away any time soon. It will remain so long as Natives with informed senses
      of identity survive into the new millennium.

      Iron Eyes is a UND graduate and a member of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.
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