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Dartmouth's Conservatives (Try to) Demonize Indians

Another Stereotype of the Month entry:

The contretemps started with a series of offensive incidents at Dartmouth University. It culminated with Athletic Director Josie Harper's apology for scheduling a game with UND's "Fighting Sioux." Then the backlash began.

The first editorial was bad enough. From the New Hampshire Union Leader:

Offendians strike: Dartmouth AD cowers

Sunday, Nov. 26, 2006

The Offendians — Native American activists who seek political leverage by manufacturing outrage at alleged white intolerance — have elicited a startling apology from Dartmouth College's athletic director.

Writing in the student newspaper on Wednesday, Josie Harper, Dartmouth director of athletics and recreation, apologized for "the pain that (an upcoming hockey tournament) will cause."

Is she psychic? No, she's just been on the receiving end of complaints from Native American students at Dartmouth who claim to be offended that the college has invited the University of North Dakota to participate in a men's hockey tournament late next month. The University of North Dakota's athletic teams are called the Fighting Sioux.

Writing that the tournament "will understandably offend and hurt people within our community," Harper continues, "Let me state clearly that UND's position is offensive and wrong."

We don't know how Harper reached that sweeping conclusion. Native Americans in North Dakota are not unanimous on the subject, but many support the nickname. North Dakota's Spirit Lake Sioux Tribe approves of the nickname. Though the Standing Rock Sioux judicial committee officially rejected the name, Archie Fool Bear, the council's chairman, has opposed the council's vote, stating that most of his tribe supports the nickname. In 1968, the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe officially adopted the University of North Dakota's president into the tribe and gave the university the right to use the Sioux name.

The president of the university's Indian Association, who supports the nickname, resigned this month over the name. Most of the university's 400 Native American students support or are indifferent to the nickname, he said, but a tiny, vocal group of about 30 students makes it appear that all oppose it.

Dartmouth owes no one an apology for inviting the UND Fighting Sioux to campus.

Harper, however, owes the Sioux an apology for insulting the tribes' collective intelligence and judgment.

It is an article of politically correct faith that any use of an ethnic minority's nickname or image by a majority-white organization is a de facto display of racism, or at least condescension.

This is not so.

The fact is, many Indian tribes understand that such associations can be and usually are made out of respect.

Those who would tell the tribes that they are wrong to be proud of such affiliations are the ones who are being condescending, and perhaps even racist.

Rob's reply
Most of the claims about what North Dakota's tribes and Indians think about the "Fighting Sioux" are false or misleading. See Fighting the Fighting Sioux and Team Names and Mascots for the real story.

Calling people who protest a stereotype "offendians" is stereotypical. As is the phrase "Fighting Sioux," of course.

Conservative rag chimes in
Next the Dartmouth Review offered its take on the controversy. To make sure the Native protesters got the point, the magazine portrayed them as scalp-waving savages on its cover. How dare those uncivilized animals challenge their Anglo-American betters, it seemd to say.

NADs on the Warpath

By Daniel F. Linsalata | Tuesday, November 28, 2006

An elder of the tribe is talking with a young boy. He says to the boy "I am so very tired, because I have these two wolves inside of me and they are having a ferocious fight." The child looks up at him with eyes that are wide with fright and curiosity. "What are they fighting about?" The elder says "One is full of rage, humiliation, envy, and violence because he feels he has been mistreated. The other wants justice, nurture, love, and prosperity." The little boy is very concerned for his old friend. He asks, "Which wolf will win?" The elder man replies "Which ever one I feed."

-Native American proverb

I'll be one of the first people to admit that I thought the controversy over the Indian symbol at Dartmouth was all but dead. No logical person believes that it will ever return as part of the official or prominent iconography of the College. Yet in the absence of a suitable replacement for more than three decades now, the Indian remains a tangible symbol of Dartmouth for generations of students. It is the ingrained image of school spirit at Dartmouth, and an image which people are still eager to embrace. I am skeptical that the hundreds of students who buy and wear Dartmouth Indian apparel every year do so of out malicious intent. Likewise, should one believe that the dozens of football players and other athletes who get the Dartmouth Indian tattooed on their thigh every year are doing so precisely to offend a small minority? Wearing a logo because it looks cool (face it, it really does) and outwardly displays school spirit is a far cry from wearing it with the intention of offending everyone in sight.

And I had foolishly thought Dartmouth was frozen in this paradigm: the Indian remained an unofficial, but visible, token of school spirit, while Dartmouth's Native American population would occasionally bemoan its use, but generally be content that the College no longer condoned it.

Something changed this fall, however. The sound of a single, irritable drum in the distance has given way to a full-on charge of the Native cavalry over the Hanover Plain, out to cut down everything in its path deemed offensive. It is as if a large, dust-covered quadrennial alarm clock in the Native American House suddenly sprung to life and alerted the Native Americans at Dartmouth (NADs), It's time to start being angry again.

And angry they became. The climax of their anger was a two-page advertisement in the Daily D on November 20, paid for by the Native American Council (of which only two students are members), chronicling a "series of campus incidents that can only be described as racist." The ad violently attacked not only the perpetrators of these events, but the entire campus, "complicit with racism," and the administration, who failed to "respond swiftly and visibly by denouncing these acts." The ad was wrought with factual inaccuracies-including matters as simple as dates-and conspicuously lacked any sort of demand for what ought to be done, or what the NADs ultimately hoped to achieve. Instead, they pulled no punches in attacking the entire community, freely bandying about buzzwords like "racism," "offended," "intolerance," and "ignorance."

Here I should pause to make a key distinction. Throughout this issue you will read many criticisms of the Native Americans at Dartmouth (NADs). Obviously, we are criticizing the students involved in the NADs' juvenile 'activism' and not the wider body of College students with American Indian ancestry. Furthermore we do not accept the NAD organization's implicit claim that it is the official mouthpiece of all Indian students at Dartmouth. The events of the past term have demonstrated that the NADs have sunk to the level of race-baiting frauds. They do not represent the interests of Indians at Dartmouth anymore than Al Sharpton represents American blacks.

Nevertheless, a number of administrators pandered to the charlatans by issuing missives apologizing to the Native community and promising them whatever further entitlements they felt necessary to rectify the situation. The low point came on November 21, when Athletic Director Josie Harper issued an apology for another school's mascot.

That's right: Dartmouth had to apologize for inviting the University of North Dakota, and its Fighting Sioux hockey team, to a tournament next month. Never mind that the tournament was booked two years ago, and the state of North Dakota has actively been fighting in court to keep its team name. Or that last year, the president of UND was made an honorary member of a Sioux tribe. Or that Dartmouth invited UND to the tournament because the school has one of the premier hockey programs in the country. None of that. Instead, Harper had to apologize for not foreseeing "the pain it will cause." In an interview with the Manchester Union-Leader, a UND spokesman stated that he had never heard of another school apologizing for the Fighting Sioux team. And as numerous bloggers and reporters have pointed out, who is Dartmouth to criticize or dictate another's school's traditions and decisions?

I do not directly blame Harper for her embarrassing letter, however. It is merely a symptom of the environment the NADs have agitated to create, and the administration has actively accommodated.

The offending advertisement merits both explanation and analysis. However, because the NADs failed to reply to requests for an interview on this matter, my own analysis must suffice.

The ad begins with a list offensive events that have occurred through the course of fall term. At the head of the list is a protest, dated September 12 (the actual date was September 23-students weren't even on campus September 12), at the offices of The Dartmouth Review. At the time, the Review was hosting its freshman open house, and giving away Dartmouth Indian t-shirts. The ad falsely categorized the event as "selling" the shirts-a surprising error, since the protestors themselves repeatedly entered the office to obtain the apparel which they summarily proceeded to deface. The factual errors in this item, whether intentional or merely careless, are nonetheless remarkably misleading and favorable to the NADs' cause; I will let them speak for themselves.

Another item in the ad discusses a Gamma Delta Chi fraternity member selling t-shirts over homecoming, emblazoned with the phrase "Holy Cross Sucks," and a line-drawn image of a Crusader fellating an Indian. The NADs found the shirts offensive not because of the lewd and sophomoric message, but because it portrayed an Indian. The Indian, in this case, was merely a proxy for Dartmouth as a whole, in the absence of another symbol which could evoke comparable school and athletic pride. Somehow, a Crusader on his knees in front of a large, amorphous blob of green lacks the same punch.

The final "racist" incident, classified as "ongoing," is the presence of the Humphries murals in the Hovey Grill, which depicts, in parody, the lyrics of the old Dartmouth drinking song, Eleazar Wheelock (for a further analysis of the murals, see page eight). The ad bemoans the possibility that the College might actually preserve the offending artworks when Thayer Dining Hall is razed in the near future. The not-so-subtly implied question is, "We don't like them, so why haven't they been destroyed yet?" By comparison, the Orozco murals in the Reserve Corridor of Baker Library are explicitly anti-Protestant, yet the College makes a point of glorifying them on every tour and publicity event.

The three aforementioned "racist" events share a striking common denominator: they are nothing new. The Review gives away Indian shirts as part of the recruiting drive every year, just as the football team prints shirts for the Homecoming game to stir up school spirit and attendance that is so often lacking. So why the great to-do about them now? No explanation has been offered. All signs point to the NADs' renewed thirst for anger and consequent taking aim at all aspects of the College that they can plausibly deem "offensive."

Another grave point of indignation is a fund-raising calendar mailed out by the Development Office, one page of which depicts "a member of the Class of '56 proudly displaying an Indian head cane to an '06 at Commencement." The Development Office's official response was that they had not noticed the Indian head in the photo while assembling the calendar. Indeed, an inspection becomes much like a "Where's Waldo?" children's game: can you find the Indian? Not without a bit of searching. In fact, the '56 was raising his cane to the '06 as she simultaneously raised her Cobra Senior Society cane. The photo serves as no more than a poignant reminder that graduation canes connect sons and daughters of Dartmouth even fifty years apart. The '56 undoubtedly keeps his cane because he identifies it with Dartmouth. (At the same time, it is unlikely that he is a hateful racist.) Dartmouth is an ever-changing place; she is never the same for everyone, and no two people will identify with her in the same way. Just because you do not agree with the way in which one person identifies with and remembers Dartmouth is not a valid reason to become hostile; indeed, it is quite a petty and immature reason.

The advertisement also cited the crew team's formal, discussed at length on page nine of this issue, as another instance of intolerance and racism. While I will not repeat the details, the logic used in decrying the formal can easily be extended to children playing "Cowboys and Indians" or dressing up as Indians for Halloween, Western movies, and, perhaps, destroying every image of an American Indian that has ever been produced. Where does one draw the line? Which of these outcomes will finally sate the NADs?

The sixth offending incident dealt with drunken fraternity pledges disrupting a NADs drumming circle during a vigil on Columbus Day. If this event really happened as the advertisement reports then the NADs may have a legitimate reason to feel offended and disrespected. But was the event racist? Hardly. Would it have been "racist" if the same pledges had disrupted a Christian prayer circle or a candlelight vigil on the Green? The likelihood of these events seems equally high, and are equally obnoxious, disrespectful, and unacceptable. But are also decidedly not racially motivated.

The main thrust of the NADs' advertisement was their declaration to fight racism with several invented, tenuous, "fundamental truths." The first of these "truths" arrogates to Native Americans the right to decide what is offensive to them, and anybody who questions these determinations is arrogant. As a member of the Class of 1980 wrote to the website Dartblog.com, one can use the same logic that only the plaintiff in a personal injury suit can decide if he has been injured, with opposing reservations prohibited. Non-Natives must accept the claim of offense at face value and immediately repent.

The other "fundamental truths" condemn as racist any objectification of a race or the failure to stop such objectification. Which begs the question: what, exactly, is racism? The Indians made much of each of these acts being racist "by definition." They must be using a different dictionary than the rest of us. From Merriam-Webster:

Racism, n: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

By this definition, the aforementioned events hardly qualify as "racist." Certainly one could make the case that they were disrespectful and insensitive, but these descriptors are not synonymous with racism. None of the events occurred under the belief that Native Americans are of an inferior race, nor did they discriminate by means of overt exclusion or marginalization. Indeed, some could have happened to any group on campus, and others in fact served as rallying points for school spirit. One must then question the culpability of those who "choose to say and do nothing in the face of [racist] acts," since those acts only appear to be racially-motivated to a select few. And because the advertisement never explicitly stated how the events are racist, and only stated that they are racist, the Native American Council has effectively condemned and patronized the entire campus under a set of rules known only to them.

The thornier issue, and one entirely absent in the NADs advertisement, is the matter of what the Natives actually want to achieve, and the grounds on which they would like to achieve it. Words like "tolerance," "understanding," and "social justice," are vacant without contextual definitions to support them and steps for achieving them. The problem seems to be that the Native Americans themselves do not know what they want. A copy of the minutes from a NADs meeting on 9/28/06, discussed the protest at the Review offices. The executives decided not to report the incident to the Daily D because, "it would prob [sic] be an ongoing thing that people would respond and we would respond back." Apparently, issuing a counter-response was problematic because, "we need to decide our stance on these issues (Hovey Murals and Indian Head T-shirts etc)."

You read that correctly: The Native Americans at Dartmouth organization does not even have an official stance on the issues that it have complained about so vocally the entire term. Subsequent emails have shown that no 'official stance' has since been established. Absent a position, protesting is not protesting: it is merely complaining.

Events at the "protest" itself empirically revealed the NADs' shortcoming in this department. A Native American member of the Class of 2010 confided to TDR staffers that he had never given much thought to the issue of Indian mascots and logos, was unaware of both the controversy about it at Dartmouth and the existence of such professional organizations as the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Blackhawks, and Washington Redskins, but that now, after four days at Dartmouth, reckoned that he ought to be incensed by the matter. If nothing else, give credit to the NADs for quickly and efficiently brainwashing freshmen to mimic their dogmatic anger.

Resolution to this problem remains difficult, since, for as much as the NADs insist upon a so-called dialogue, the have shown no evidence of actually desiring one with the greater community; indeed, many have taken quite the opposite approach. In an October 13 email concerning the football t-shirts, one member of the NADs reminded his colleagues, "If there is any physical confrontation around this (or any other) issue, BOTH parties involved in any physical fighting are disciplined — regardless of who may have started it." My word, it's just a t-shirt. The fact that physical violence even enters the realm of possible reactions belies the reality that we are not dealing with a reasonable group of people here. Anecdotal evidence supports the same: every term, I hear stories of students who have been verbally abused and physically threatened simply because they were wearing Dartmouth Indian apparel. Tolerance on these issues is a two way street, and it is a street that the NADs aren't walking.

For its part, the administration has done nothing to facilitate a resolution to these tensions. To the contrary, they have issued a series of letters which simply validate the complaints and objections of the NADs.

On November 10, a week and a half before the patronizing advertisement appeared in the Daily D, Acting Dean of the College Dan Nelson sent a four-page letter to all students on campus, nominally to transmit updates on policy issues and general goals of the administration. Following a brief discussion of the Committee on Standards and Student Event Management Procedures (SEMP) reforms-which amounted to little more than, "I'm just the Acting Dean, so I won't deal with this"-Nelson delved into a criticism of the Dartmouth community as a whole, against the background of the offenses perceived by the Native Americans.

The communiqué read like a children's book designed to help youngsters differentiate right from wrong. After bloviating on "our moral obligation to be thoughtful and responsible about the choices we make in what we say and do," he provides some real-life examples, much as one would find in a Berenstain Bears book. What should I do when my group does X? How should I react when my friend says Y? And so forth. You've heard it all before, probably during your years of primary education. While Nelson clearly wishes not to ruffle any feathers during his brief tenure, one must question whether moralizing as one would to grade-schoolers is the best way to leave Dartmouth better than he found it.

On November 21, President James Wright weighed in with his own thoughts-though he was quite clearly forced to do so following a meeting with a number of Native American students. He devoted much of the letter to an ad hoc history of Indians at Dartmouth, and specifically the Indian symbol. (This section contained a handful of inaccuracies, though none so glaring as to bemoan.) He ambles on to state, in so many words, that Dartmouth students ought not to harm the feelings of one another, whether by intention or by accident. But to cover all bases, he also asserts that free speech does, in fact, exist at Dartmouth, and that somehow the College intends to defend this right.

"Free speech," however, is simply the realm of bullies and the malintentioned, Wright says. In his words, "Those who know of the hurt and disrespect [they cause] and persist nonetheless are simply bullies. 'Free speech' rights are regularly asserted by [these students]."

And "free speech" is also the domain of those who cannot defend their own indignation. When I engaged Student Assembly president Timmy Andreadis in a surprisingly cordial conversation outside our offices during the September "protest," he said there was nothing I could do about the gathered masses because it was, after all, "free speech." While I could not disagree, the grin on his face betrayed other motives, most likely to irk the Review. I laughed and turned away.

Wright's coup de grace completely obliterates the notions of self-help and resilience, replacing them with validation of the 'race card' maneuver and a precedent for community-wide appeasement of the lowest common denominator: self-victimization (presently the Indians, but it could apply to any group):

Let me exercise my right of free speech: I take it as a matter of principle that when people say they have been offended, they have been offended. We may apologize and explain, we may seek to assure that offense was not intended, but it is condescending to insist that they shouldn't be offended, that it is somehow their fault, and that they are humorless since they can't appreciate that what was perceived as offensive is merely a "joke." And it is the worst form of arrogance for anyone to insist that they will continue to offend on the basis of a "right" to do so.

It seems as if the granite of New Hampshire has left the muscles and brains of students and administrators in quite a hurry. Fighting your own fights and standing up for your principles is old school; taking offense where you like and folding at the slightest sign of discontent is new school.

In this light, then, Josie Harper's appalling letter was really an inevitability-the end game of the politics of victimhood. Students are embarrassed, alumni are embarrassed, and the NADs have made Dartmouth embarrass herself. Dartmouth-style 'political correctness'-apologizing for another school's mascot-became the overnight laughingstock of all of academia. But at least we recognized the error of our ways, right?

Clearly, the NADs' and administration's strategies for handling disrespect and intolerance (racism, "by definition," is not at issue here) have not worked. May I suggest another way? Let us return for a moment to the proverb at the head of this column.

All term, the NADs and the administration have been eagerly feeding the former wolf, the one full of rage and violence because it feels as if it has been mistreated. Their words and actions thus far have been unproductive, divisive, and condescending; they make no progress towards mollifying the conflict and feeding the latter wolf, which yearns for justice and harmony. Until the NADs can clearly articulate how and why they feel so insulted, and the administration ceases to fold as soon as one person or group utters "I'm offended," the situation will perpetuate itself, to the detriment of the entire Dartmouth community.

While the onus may fall partly on the student body to facilitate an environment more hospitable to Indians, nothing can be done until the Indians themselves lay out measurable goals and steps for how this harmony can be achieved. Patronizing advertisements and excessive use of the race card are antithetical to this goal. These tactics render the NADs as ignorant and intolerant as they claim everyone else to be. The administration's kowtowing to an angry minority and admonishing the whole makes them, at best, equally culpable of perpetually feeding the first wolf, and, at worst, thoroughly incapable of handling the situation in a reasonable manner. The administration and the campus as a whole owe the NADs no sort of olive branch until the NADs prove themselves willing to engage in a reasonable, productive dialogue. Up to this point, they have not demonstrated that they are capable of, or willing to do so.

Copyright (c) 1996-2006 The Dartmouth Review

My response to Linsalata

Dartmouth's Conservatives (Try to) Demonize Indians

By Rob Schmidt

A mascot controversy is raging at New Hampshire's Dartmouth College. It began when athletic director Josie Harper apologized for inviting the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux" for a hockey tournament. Predictably, conservatives on and off campus cried foul, claiming Harper was bowing to "political correctness." Just as predictably, their liberal counterparts staged protests denouncing racism and demanding justice for Indians.

But the controversy predates Harper's apology. Dartmouth's nickname until the 1970s was "the Indians." Though the college abandoned its Native imagery, the Dartmouth Indian lives on unofficially at school functions and on school products.

The latest contretemps flared when the Native American Council placed an advertisement denouncing a long list of arguably anti-Indian incidents. In response, Daniel F. Linsalata wrote an editorial for the conservative Dartmouth Review ridiculing the protesters and their ad. "The events of the past term have demonstrated that the NADs [Native Americans at Dartmouth] have sunk to the level of race-baiting frauds," he claimed.

"The offending advertisement merits both explanation and analysis," he continued. "However, because the NADs failed to reply to requests for an interview on this matter, my own analysis must suffice." Herein is the analysis Linsalata requested.

Linsalata begins with Dartmouth Indian t-shirts being given away by his Dartmouth Review. These feature a stern-looking Indian with warpaint and a mohawk. The organization sells t-shirts, cups, and other items with this symbol on its website.

Depicting a warlike Indian to represent all Indians is obviously stereotypical. If it isn't obvious to Linsalata, what would he say to a "Blacks" t-shirt featuring a Zulu warrior? In fact, the very existence of a product objectifying Indians but not members of other races is arguably racist.

Similarly, Linsalata defends the wooden "Indian-head" canes his organization sells. Presumably he thinks all wooden Indians are okay. The message is that Indians are as stoic as statues.

Similarly, blacks have rhythm. Jews are greedy. Asians are smart. Nothing racist or stereotypical about these assertions, right?

The ethnic equivalent of a wooden cigar-store Indian is a black lawn jockey. Why don't you see such lawn ornaments anymore? Because their racist nature is obvious to everyone—except, perhaps, to Linsalata.

Racism (wrongly) defined

Linsalata puts great stock in the following definition of "racism" from Merriam-Webster:

Racism, n: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race.

If there's no claim of superiority, he suggests, no harmful intent, an Indian nickname or logo can't be racist. But this is an extreme definition of racism. Most people acknowledge that people can be racist unconsciously, without any negative intent.

A better definition is this one from the American Heritage Dictionary:

Racism, n: discrimination or prejudice based on race.

By this definition, items that feature Indians but not members of other races are racist. Why? Because they discriminate on the basis of race. Indians and only Indian are singled out for stereotyping and objectification.

Linsalata also defends a fraternity t-shirt showing a Holy Cross "Crusader" performing a sex act on a Dartmouth "Indian." This is supposed to be an anti-Holy Cross message, but again we see the Dartmouth approach. One stereotypical Indian represents all Indians. An Indian is singled out for attention. We'd denounce this if it happened to anyone else—e.g., a black man or a white woman.

Linsalata can kid himself that the Indian symbolizes only Dartmouth, not all Indians. But how can he possibly assert that the universe of potential viewers will "read" the image the same way he does? Answer: He can't. He's projecting what he thinks the Indian represents onto what others will think it represents.

Another sore spot for Linsalata is the protesters' antipathy toward the Humphries murals in Dartmouth's Hovey Grill. These paintings commemorate a "humorous" song about Eleazar Wheelock's founding of the college. The song lyrics end with this stanza:

Eleazar and the big chief harangued and gesticulated. They founded Dartmouth College, and the big chief matriculated. Eleazar was the faculty, and the whole curriculum was five hundred gallons of New England rum. Fill the bowl up! Fill the bowl up!

Linsalata offers no defense of the murals, which aver that Indians had no interest in anything except drinking. But he claims the protests are insincere because people are objecting only now.

If this is the best he can do, he might as well give it up. Most people are probably learning about the murals for the first time. Even those who have attended Dartmouth may know little or nothing about them. It's not at all unreasonable that people have begun protesting after the Council's ad brought the murals to their attention.

"Cowboys and Indians" defended

Next, Linsalata takes issue with objections to the crew team's "Cowboys and Indians" formal. "The logic used in decrying the formal can easily be extended to children playing 'Cowboys and Indians' or dressing up as Indians for Halloween, Western movies, and, perhaps, destroying every image of an American Indian that has ever been produced," he writes.

Well, yes, the vast majority of depictions of American Indians have been stereotypical. Linsalata seems to want to deny this, but it's a fact. Should Indians not speak up because people like Linsalata think pernicious images are respectable, even "cool"?

No one's arguing for destroying old images, but they are arguing for eliminating new images such as those the formal propagated. Why is that, exactly? Because the "cowboys and Indians" metaphor plainly treats Indians as outsiders—the "other." They're the bad guys in the scenario. Cowboys are the good guys—the ones who supposedly brought peace and order and civilization to the "Wild West."

Does Linsalata seriously think pitting "civilized" cowboys against "uncivilized" Indians isn't a negative, race-based message? That Indians should tolerate if not accept and embrace it? Talk about race-baiting. This theme is America's original race-baiting myth.

If "cowboys and Indians" is okay, why not a formal with an "overseers and slaves" theme? Or "Christians and heathens"? Do these themes make the prejudice obvious enough? Because the "cowboys and Indians" theme is no less offensive and prejudicial.

Finally, Linsalata notes that some "drunken fraternity pledges" disrupted an Indian drumming circle. He implies the frat boys would've attacked performers of any race or creed, so we can't label them racist. Maybe so, but it's nothing to excuse. Given the school's historic hostility toward Indians, it's quite possible the boys did target the drummers because of their race.

Dartmouth is where a human mascot used to paint himself bright red to "resemble" an Indian. Where the Dartmouth Review still sells t-shirts plastered with the nonsensical phrase "Wah Hoo Wah." Where Linsalata chose a cover equating legitimate Native protests with a 19th century "primitive" waving a bloody scalp.

Is this how Dartmouth honors and respects Native people—by treating their complex languages like animal calls? By asserting that they're still savages at heart? Indians have every reason to protest the ongoing stereotyping on campus—the race-based discrimination that applies only to them.

Natives and students reply

Fighting must go; change name

Dorreen Yellow Bird
Grand Forks Herald — 11/29/2006

When I read the recent article "Activists strike: Dartmouth folds," (Page 4A, Nov. 28), I sat with my head in my hands and considered yet another incident that will incite more hostility to our community.

I'm tired. We need to find a way to resolve the nickname issue peacefully.

Some 500 miles to the southwest at Standing Rock, the Lakota probably are looking east and wondering once again about the people here in Grand Forks.

Ron His Horse Is Thunder, tribal chairman of the Lakota Nation on the Standing Rock reservation, probably is wondering, too. The article says Archie Fool Bear is chairman.

Spirit Lake will be surprised when it reads it signed a resolution of support for the nickname. It did neither. The current tribal chairman, however, signed a resolution of the North Dakota Indian Commission asking that the name be changed.

A resolution of support for the nickname was passed by the Spirit Lake council during the years of the Phillip "Skip" Longie administration. It said the tribe supported the nickname but with exceptions. As far as I know those exceptions have not been resolved.

Yes, there are people at Spirit Lake who support the name, and there are those who do not. Many of those who do not support the mascot and logo are people who graduated from UND. That should be telling.

In 1968, there were few students from Indian reservations going to UND. It was a different time. I doubt that they or those who say they approve of the name understand the effects it has on Indian students at the university today. Maybe the Lakota tribe gave permission because it thought it finally was being recognized as more than stereotypes. I don't know. What I do know is it was a different time.

At that time, many people on the reservations spoke their language, and some had not traveled off reservation. We weren't too many years away from the Civil Rights Act of 1964, when discrimination finally was recognized as a blight against society.

Tribes also didn't realize honoring meant different things to non-American Indians. Here is what honoring generally means to tribes then and today: You are chosen, perhaps, because you fought for your country or maybe you did something well for your community.

The honoring starts when you're taken to the dance circle while everyone stands in respect and an honor song is sung for you. Pendleton robes, star quilts or, perhaps, an eagle feather bonnet is placed on your head or you might be given an eagle feather.

As you circle the arena, people shake your hand and give you gifts. You then, in turn, give gifts to the community for this public honor.

When Ralph Engelstad decided to place a statue in front of his arena to "honor" Sitting Bull, I don't believe he asked or invited relatives of Sitting Bull to the honoring — that would be correct protocol for Indians — ask first.

Isaac Dog Eagle (as is Ron His Horse Is Thunder) are relatives of Sitting Bull. Isaac came to the unveiling uninvited. He stood in the background as they uncovered the statue. There in front of him was a rider on a horse carrying a "dream catcher" rather than a spear — the symbol of a warrior. He told me he turned around and left. No one acknowledged him as a relative of Sitting Bull.

It's sad that our two cultures don't connect — that we have no common understanding of honor.

Most of the Lakota/Dakota/Nakota tribal nations have passed resolutions saying they don't want UND to use "Fighting Sioux," not because they want to upset the university system but because around the name comes fighting, acrimony, hostility and even hate as is happening this week.

When I read the negative comments such as those from Dartmouth and listen to some UND students and alumni, I realized how wide the distance is between these two races. That hostility should be a feeling of friendly competition, rivalry and an opportunity to stand up and cheer at the top of your lungs. That camaraderie gained through sports is lost because they aren't cheering for American Indian prowess. It is the "fighting" — mean, savage and manliness in the name that makes it important to the sport. The Sioux, as a group, are not who they're cheering for.

Enough! Let the name go. Be something that all people can cheer for and standing behind — "The Force of the North," "Battling Bears," or wonderful "Prairie Dogs." Anything else. Let everyone freely admire the exceptional abilities of our young athletes.


Dartmouth Rallies for Minority Students

Published: November 30, 2006

Filed at 3:28 a.m. ET

HANOVER, N.H. (AP) — Dartmouth College has been repeatedly roiled in recent weeks over the way some students are treating the very people the school was founded to help: American Indians.

More than 500 students, faculty and administrators rallied in support of the American Indian community on Wednesday, a day after The Dartmouth Review published on its front page a picture of an Indian warrior brandishing a scalp with the headline, "The Natives are Getting Restless!"

"Like an open wound, Dartmouth is hurting — we have all been insulted," college president James Wright told the crowd gathered before Dartmouth Hall.

Some carried signs reading "Stop Hate Speech," "Civil Discourse" and "Standing Against Racism." A few carried umbrellas pasted with signs reading "Unity."

The Dartmouth Review, an independent conservative student newspaper, is not affiliated with the Ivy League college and has had a sometimes adversarial relationship with minority students.

Students said the paper's latest issue, ridiculing Native American students' complaints about a string of incidents seen as racist, was the trigger for the demonstration, held on the last day of classes before exams.

"The Review was more or less a tipping point," 19-year-old sophomore Samuel Kohn said.

This fall, American Indian students have protested Homecoming T-shirts showing a Holy Cross knight performing a sex act on an American Indian caricature. The Review also has come under fire for distributing T-shirts emblazoned with the Dartmouth Indian, the college's discontinued mascot.

There also have been accusations that fraternity pledges disrupted a Native American drumming circle on Columbus Day and that earlier this month, the crew team held a party with a "Cowboys and Indians" theme. Team captains later apologized.

The college also apologized for scheduling a Dec. 29 hockey game against the University of North Dakota, whose mascot is the "Fighting Sioux." UND is one of several schools whose use of American Indian imagery has been labeled "hostile and abusive" by the NCAA.

The various incidents have played out against an uncomfortable college history. Dartmouth, founded in 1769 as a school for American Indians, graduated fewer than 20 American Indians during its first 200 years, the same time its catalog of Indian mascots — featured on canes, sports uniforms, even songs and art depicting natives lapping rum — increased.

A renewed mission to recruit American Indian students in the past 30 years has given Dartmouth the largest indigenous student body in the Ivy League, about 160, or 3 percent.

Last week, the college's Native American Council — composed mostly of faculty — placed a two-page ad in The Dartmouth, the college daily, demanding a community response to the recent incidents.

Wright apologized via a college-wide message last week and encouraged the community to build a more welcoming atmosphere for minority students.

The publication Tuesday of the Review, with its inflammatory cover art and several articles mocking American Indian students and the college, sparked the latest round of campus soul-searching.

In an interview after the rally, which he did not attend, Review Editor-in-Chief Daniel Linsalata, a senior, was unapologetic and a little surprised by the hubbub.

He said the paper was a response to "the overdramatic reaction to events this term."

"They're out for blood, so to speak," he said of complaints by American Indian students.

In an editorial, Linsalata wrote: "While the onus may fall partly on the student body to facilitate an environment more hospitable to Indians, nothing can be done until the Indians themselves lay out measurable goals and steps for how this harmony can be achieved. Patronizing advertisements and excessive use of the race card are antithetical to this goal."

At the rally, Kohn, a member of both the Crow tribe and of the student group Native Americans at Dartmouth, urged administrators to pursue disciplinary action against offenders.

"We're not reaching for something that's just a temporary cosmetic fix," he said. "We're calling for a lasting solution from the Dartmouth administration."


Hundreds converge on Dartmouth Hall for "Solidarity Against Hatred" rally

By Allie Lowe
Published on Thursday, November 30, 2006

WEB UPDATE, November 30, 3:30 a.m.

Several hundred students, staff and faculty members gathered outside Dartmouth Hall for a "Solidarity Against Hatred" rally on Wednesday afternoon. The event, which was planned in response to a recent issue of The Dartmouth Review, featured speeches from campus administrators and students addressing this and other offensive incidents on campus as well as the broader themes of diversity and community at Dartmouth.

The Nov. 28 cover of The Review featured the title "The Natives are Getting Restless!" and an image of a Native American holding up a scalp, which spurred an impromptu meeting Tuesday night of about 200 students to plan the rally. Students said the event was also a response to other offensive acts against Native American students and a Nov. 27 episode in which three non-students drove through campus shouting racial slurs at black undergraduates.

"My Dartmouth, our Dartmouth, is one that condemns the deliberate mean spiritedness that was demonstrated in the publication released yesterday," College President James Wright said at the rally in reference to The Review.

Wright, Acting Dean of the College Dan Nelson, Dean of the Faculty Carol Folt, Director of the Native American Program Michael Hanitchak and other College administrators denounced racism at the event and encouraged students to make Dartmouth more accepting of different cultures.

"Dartmouth will be what we make it," Wright said. "What sort of Dartmouth do we wish it to be?"

Many students, at the urging of event organizers, wore green Dartmouth clothing and carried umbrellas to symbolize solidarity and unification.

Several students also spoke at the event, which was emceed by Jamal Brown '08 and Soralee Ayvar '07. Many of these speeches focused on taking action against racist incidents as a united campus.

"We are all connected. Those problems of any individual are your problem as long as you are at Dartmouth College," said Robert Cheeks '07, president of the Afro-American Society.

Wednesday's rally recalled a similar event on Oct. 5, 1990 named "Dartmouth United Against Hate," which was organized after an excerpt from Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf was printed in The Review's credo. Though the editors of The Review apologized for this event, which they attributed to sabotage, discontent over this and other issues of campus racism led an estimated 2,500 students and staff members to congregate on the Green. Just as Wright did at Wednesday's rally, College President James Freedman did not mention The Review by name in his speech at the 1990 event.

Wright said that one of the factors that distinguished Wednesday's gathering from the 1990 rally was the overall tone of the event, noting that it was characterized by a "coming together and an affirmation of the positive values of Dartmouth."

"[At the 1990 rally] there was more outward directed anger," Wright said. "There was a warmer sense [Wednesday]."

Nelson similarly praised Wednesday's event for its supportive atmosphere.

"I felt a deep sense of appreciation for the students who organized [the rally], for the way they organized it [and] for the way they made it a positive occasion for building community," he said.

"The real message," Nelson said, "was that the real Dartmouth is based on traditions of respect and civility and interest and appreciation for the wonderful contribution that diversity makes to our education and our lives here and that behaviors that threaten that are ... inconsistent with our values."

Dan Linsalata '07, editor-in-chief of The Review, told The Dartmouth he was unavailable for comment on Wednesday. In an interview with the Associated Press, he said that The Review's cover image responded to "the overdramatic reaction to events this term."

Other members of The Review said they were not permitted to speak to the press at this time.

At the rally, several speakers addressed Dartmouth's history of racial problems, pointing to a history of intolerance at the College. In an interview with The Dartmouth, Wright noted that problems with the Native American community are "ongoing to some extent."

Native American issues "do flare up and I wish I knew why," he said.

Wright pointed to a tendency in American history to be comfortable stereotyping and caricaturing Native Americans as one possible reason for the continued problem.

"[There is a] long tradition of reducing the richness and complexities of Native American life to a few simple caricatures that don't allow us to recognize the real Native American students and people who are in our midst, and that's the real tragedy," he said,

Wright said that although he found The Review's depiction of Native Americans offensive, the administration will not take any action against the publication.

"I don't think it's the job of publications to write things that I approve of," he said,

Echoing the content of his campus wide BlitzMail message before Thanksgiving, however, Wright said that free speech does not mean that publications cannot be criticized.

"Free speech is something that does not immunize you from being criticized or challenged for what it is that you say," he said. "I feel quite free to speak out if I want to challenge something and I would like to encourage other people to speak out if they would like to challenge something."

At the rally, Sam Kohn '09, on behalf of the Native Americans at Dartmouth, called on the College to act on the "College Code of Conduct," which he suggested could allow for disciplinary action against members of The Review.

Lizzy Hennessey '09, who attended both the rally and Tuesday night's meeting in Carson, said that she has been concerned with the campus racial dynamic this term.

"[The issue of The Review] just put me over the edge," she said.

Hennessey, a Hanover resident whose parents both graduated from Dartmouth in the mid-1970s, said that after reading The Review last night she called her mom to inform her of the controversy.

"She couldn't believe that this was still going on," Hennessey said.

Maria Maldonado '08, however, who did not attend the rally, questioned the lasting impact of the event.

"I don't really think demonstrations are necessary," she said. "I don't think they do anything in the long term. They're not like initiatives or plans."

Maldonado pointed to recent discussion programs such as Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity's Monday forum on minority issues as examples of more productive solutions to campus racism.

At the end of the rally, students were asked to read the "Standing Up" petition, which was created in the wake of the Nov. 20 ad in The Dartmouth from the Native American Council and calls upon students to end incidents of prejudice at Dartmouth.

Brown also invited attendees to stay and mingle with each other after the event concluded.

"We're all here for the same cause," he said. "Let's find out ways to work together.


Thursday, November 30, 2006

Dartmouth, Mascots, and Civility (or lack thereof)

Some weeks ago I wrote about UIUC's "tacos and tequila" frat/sorority "exchange." In weeks following, we learned that across the country, institutions of higher ed have had similar parties, including Cowboys and Indians parties.

Dartmouth's recent experiences around racist activity and representation of American Indians is in today's NY Times. This latest incident is a cartoon in a conservative Dartmouth paper not affiliated with the campus. The cartoon shows an Indian holding a bloody scalp, and the caption reads "The Natives are getting restless." The NY Times article quotes the editorial:

In an editorial, Linsalata wrote: "While the onus may fall partly on the student body to facilitate an environment more hospitable to Indians, nothing can be done until the Indians themselves lay out measurable goals and steps for how this harmony can be achieved. Patronizing advertisements and excessive use of the race card are antithetical to this goal."

"...the Indians themselves"?!! Linsalata's remark is outrageous. Dartmouth's Native students speak up regarding negative representations of Native people, and Linsalata says THEY must lay out measurable goals and steps for harmony. Where, in Linsalata's view of the world, is his own responsibility for that harmony?

For more, go directly to Dartmouth's school paper, The Dartmouth.

THIS societal context is the one in which all of you—parents, teachers, librarians, professors, students—must work. THIS mindset is why your work towards helping children know who Native people are, and what US history has been, is crucial. We are all responsible for the views that children hold, the views that they take to heart, that they rely on when they are adults. We can intervene, and we must.

Posted by Debbie Reese at 6:53 AM

More on the Dartmouth Review cover

The Cover Story

By Daniel F. Linsalata | Saturday, December 2, 2006

In light of reactions to the cover of the most recent issue of The Dartmouth Review, I feel a word of explanation is in order. The cover was intended to be a hyperbolic, tongue-in-cheek commentary upon the reactions to events this term by the self-styled leadership of Dartmouth's Native American community. Placed in the context of the articles within the issue itself, the commentary made sense. But placed in the context of the reaction it elicited, the extent of the reaction was wholly unanticipated. However, I regret that the cover may have precipitated further feelings of offense within Dartmouth and overshadowed more thoughtful discussions of these matters presented in the articles within the issue itself.

I emphasize that I still stand fully behind the editorial content of the issue-which I encourage everyone to read and consider, quite apart from the cover. I also restate The Dartmouth Review's position that our criticisms are leveled entirely at the actions of the NAD organization, particularly its leadership, and not Native American students at large. The NAD leadership is not beyond reproach simply because it claims to speak for all Dartmouth's Native Americans, any more than the leadership of any other group should receive immunity from scrutiny. Unanimity of sentiment is an impossibility within any such group; thus, it is only reasonable to criticize the leadership who claimed to act as spokespeople, and not Dartmouth's Native Americans as a whole. The accusation, then, that this cover was maliciously designed as a wantonly racist attack on upon Native Americans is patently false. All the same, I regret that it could have been construed as such, to the detriment of discussion of the content of the issue.

Daniel F. Linsalata '07
Editor-in-Chief, The Dartmouth Review


The Cover Was a Mistake

Wednesday, December 6, 2006

Dear Dartmouth,

The recent Dartmouth Review cover depicting a warrior with a scalp was a mistake. It distracted attention from the serious journalism The Dartmouth Review has been publishing, not least in the articles that came after the cover. The result was that people are discussing the cover, the scalp, and the offense felt by descendants of the original Americans. In the discussions on the staff prior to publishing this issue, there were reservations about the cover. We certainly agree with the statement of President James Wright that all students at Dartmouth whatever their background, should feel welcome here.

At the same time we find there exists some paranoia, no little hysteria really, on the part of the official Dartmouth on the matter of the now abandoned "Indian symbol." As an example we cite the recent gratuitous insult offered by athletic director Josie Harper to the University of South Dakota because its hockey team uses the university's Indian logo. She was properly rebuked by the president of that university. There is such a thing as minding your own business. There is also such a thing as achieving a bit of perspective, even developing a sense of humor. There are no "racists" or people who "hate" at The Dartmouth Review. Such terms are the clichés of unearned, but desperately desired, moral superiority.

The best course for those of a conservative disposition is to employ evidence, learning, logic, and wit to combat what Orwell called "the smelly little orthodoxies now contending for our minds." Because much about Dartmouth is liberal, this intellectual combat must necessarily seem conservative, though, occasionally, the orthodoxies will not be creatures of leftism, and the arguments we employ must be merely true. If persuasiveness is desirable, then boorishness must be rejected. Offense as such should not be sought out. We believe that offense and truth reside on two independent axes: the Review must measure its success on the axis of truth, not of offense.

In campus debates, there are bound to be topics that cause people to react viscerally, because they offend their particular suspensions of reason. The solution, however, is not usually a swift punch in the gut. Instead, the staff must produce a thought-provoking, funny, and persuasive newspaper. We have before and will continue to do so.


Nicholas Desai, Managing Editor, and Emily Ghods-Esfahani, Associate Editor

Special thanks to Professor Jeffrey Hart for helping us to draft this letter.


Dartmouth paper: cover of Indian scalper was mistake

By Beverley Wang, Associated Press Writer | December 7, 2006

CONCORD, N.H. —An independent student newspaper at Dartmouth College says it was a mistake to publish a Page One illustration of an Indian brandishing a scalp as part of a debate over the treatment of minorities on the Ivy League campus.

"It distracted attention from the serious journalism The Dartmouth Review has been publishing, not least in the articles that came after the cover. The result was that people are discussing the cover, the scalp and the offense felt by descendants of the original Americans," editors Nicholas Desai and Emily Ghods-Esfahani wrote in a letter published Wednesday on The Review's Web site.

The offending issue was published a week earlier under the headline "The Natives are Getting Restless." It contained articles critical of College President James Wright, athletic director Josie Harper and a student group, Native Americans at Dartmouth.

The issue sparked a rally of more than 500 students, faculty and staff calling for more sensitivity to minorities and an end to racist speech at Dartmouth, which was founded more than 230 years ago as a school for American Indians.

"We certainly agree with the statement of President James Wright that all students at Dartmouth, whatever their background, should feel welcome here," wrote Desai, the managing editor, and Ghods-Esfahani, an associate editor.

The two gave no ground, however, on the Review's criticism of recent college actions — particularly Harper's college-wide apology for scheduling a hockey game later this month against the University of North Dakota's "Fighting Sioux." North Dakota is one of several schools whose use of American Indian imagery has been labeled "hostile and abusive" by the National Collegiate Athletic Association.

"There is such a thing as minding your own business. There is also such a thing as achieving a bit of perspective, even a sense of humor," the two wrote. "There are no `racists' or people who `hate' at The Dartmouth Review."

Dartmouth went on break this week after fall term exams, but The Review's top editor, Daniel Linsalata, forwarded the letter to The Associated Press, which covered the Nov. 29 protest.

In an interview then, Linsalata said he was surprised by the furor over the cover, which he said was intended as a tongue-in-cheek commentary on "unreasonable" demands of American Indian students and faculty leaders.

"They're very much looking to play the race card in any instance they can," he said.

The week before, Dartmouth's Native American Council — a mostly faculty group — demanded a response to a series of provocations. They included fraternity pledges disrupting a drumming circle in October, homecoming T-shirts showing a Holy Cross knight performing a sex act on an American Indian, and The Review's distribution of Indian head T-shirts.

Wright, the college president, publicly deplored the incidents.

The college stopped using its Indian mascot decades ago, but The Review continues to sell Indian head canes, T-shirts, neckties and other souvenirs, calling them proud symbols of the school's past.

In a statement last weekend, Linsalata repeated that the provocative Review issue — with its cover art showing a wild-eyed warrior clutching a scalp in one hand and a knife in the other, reprints of old Dartmouth Indian mascots and satirical articles mocking those upset by a crew team formal with a "Cowboy and Indians" theme — was aimed strictly at Native Americans at Dartmouth, the student group, and not at American Indians in general.

"The accusation, then, that this cover was maliciously designed as a wantonly racist attack on ... Native Americans is patently false. All the same, I regret that it could have been construed as such," he wrote.

Members of Native Americans at Dartmouth say there's no other way to interpret it.

"I don't think it's being oversensitive at all that I'm upset that our entire culture has just been taken and used as a satire by these guys," freshman Shaun Stewart, a Cherokee, said last week. "To me, that's a blatant attack on the Native American community here at Dartmouth."

Senior Melody Jones, a member of the Pascua Yaqui tribe, agreed.

"Free speech doesn't mean that you can write whatever you want and not be held accountable. What they're asking for, it seems to me, is to have unaccountable speech."

Related links
Scalping, torture, and mutilation by Indians
Savage Indians
Team names and mascots

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