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Stereotype of the Month Entry

From Indian Country Today, 4/18/01:

Shoshone-Bannock Tribes of the Fort Hall Reservation of Idaho

Tribal members take issue with a Chamber of Commerce service group called the Pocatello Chiefs for mocking American Indian culture by using chicken-feather headdresses and special names for their activities. "That perpetuates the racism that we've been dealing with all our lives," said tribal member Ron Edmo, a student at Idaho State University. "Your names are an insult to our leaders. It's a slap in the face to us. Fifty years ago, we didn't have a voice, but now we do." But a former chief of the Pocatello Chiefs, Richard Sagness, disputes that assessment. He said nothing the group does is meant to disparage American Indians. Members are selected on service to the community. They wear colorful headdresses and use names like "Chief Teaches Good, Well," Sagness' name to reflect his former job as dean of the College of Education at Idaho State. His successor, Chief of Chiefs Kelly Crompton, said if the names are insulting they would be changed. "The intent is to honor the true settlers of this valley." Donald Pine, also a student at Idaho State, was not persuaded. "There's nothing more offensive than to see the Pocatello Chiefs in the paper wearing those ridiculous headdresses," Pine said. "It just burns me."

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