Another Stereotype of the Month entry:
But what is a chief without any Indians?
Let's cry a tear this morning with Geronimo.
The mighty Chiricahua Apache chieftain, who terrorized the U.S. Cavalry in Arizona and New Mexico as the 19th century began to wane, weeps bitter tears somewhere on the happy hunting ground. He shouldn't have to cry alone.
He has good reason to weep. Certain descendants of the noble red man, an examplar of courage, cunning and true grit for generations of American boys, are aping the example of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, of all people, extorting in the name of perverted notions of justice. In the Rev's case, for a lot of wampum.
Running a race hustle can be very profitable, as the Rev demonstrates with his looting of corporate America, and it beats working. But it would shame Geronimo and the courageous redskins of an earlier, more virile America.
Richard Regan, who tried to shut down a Little League in suburban Maryland because he was "offended" that some of the teams called themselves "Braves," "Indians" and "Warriors," is new at this form of ethnic cleansing, and, unlike Jesse Jackson, has not yet revealed exactly how he expects to make a buck (no pun intended) with the boycott he tried to organize under the sponsorship of a state agency, the Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, of which he is a member.
But he has big dreams. He wants to cleanse the entire state of Maryland of traces of Indians. Today, Maryland; tomorrow, the world. The Montgomery County Board of Education will consider tonight a resolution to ban such names. After ethnically cleansing Maryland, Mr. Regan can then work on eliminating the Indian names of half the states. Illinois is the most odious of all, named for the Illini, a tribe of Algonquins who called themselves by their word for "warriors." But what did they know? Fortunately, Maryland owes its name to no such robust legacy; the state was named for Queen Henrietta Maria, the wife of an English king, Charles II. But for a bureaucrat's whim, Parris Glendening would be the governor of Henrietta.
But not just states. Potomac is out, along with Susquehanna, Patuxent and Monocacy. So are Assateague, Accokeek, Anacostia, Quantico and Mattaponi. We might just assign numbers to our rivers, our purple-mountain majesties, our fruited plains. This might offend mathematicians as well as poets. It's not yet clear what we can do about Indian summer, except cancel it.
Richard Regan says he is an Indian of the Lumbee Cheraw tribe, though his own Christian name, of sturdy Anglo-Saxon origin, renders this claim suspicious. If he really is an Indian, his parents showed little sensitivity to Anglo-Saxon sensibilities when they appropriated the name Richard for a Lumbee child, and he shows even less regard for the common decencies by flaunting it.
Racism, after all, is in the eye of the beholder, which is what makes the race hustle so profitable in modern America. (As a descendant of a tribe of Northumberland pig farmers, some of whom were probably named "Richard," I can tell you that my kinsmen are highly offended.)
Gov. Glendening, no kemo sabe he, stayed behind at the fort in Annapolis and dispatched his cavalry at the Department of Housing and Community Development, which supervises Mr. Regan's commission, to call off the boycott.
Could anyone imagine Geronimo or Sitting Bull as petty bureaucrats? Mr. Regan was so disappointed that he lapsed into a little insensitive himself.
"I feel like the legs have been cut out from under us," he said.
Such hate speech is probably in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and if not should be, demonstrating unbelievable insensitivity to surgeons as well as to paraplegics.
And it gets worse. Certain other Indian "activists" an "activist" is someone without a life are eager to cleanse the landscape of other place names as well. They have targeted Squaw Mountain in Maine. They insist "squaw" is an Indian word for "prostitute," and Gov. Angus King of Maine (his parents, perhaps ignorant of bovine feelings, named him for a cow?) agreed to erase "squaw" from the map. This shows shocking insensitivity to hundreds of gainfully employed ladies of the evening, and changing Squaw Valley to Hooker Valley is likely to offend a lot of pimps. Pimps are people, too.
Mr. Regan acts as if he speaks for Indians from sea to shining sea, though a Comanche of my acquaintance insists "there's no way we would listen to a Lumbee about anything." Indeed, several callers who identified themselves variously as Algonquin, Iroquois, Quapaw and Cheyenne note that Maryland — or Henrietta — has not a single Indian tribe. Mr. Regan, they scoff, is just another chief without any Indians.
Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.
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Does this clown really think Native people are protesting mascots only to make a buck? How ignorant can you get? Does he have a shred of proof for this incredible accusation? No, of course not.
If he's going for the most stereotypes in a single column, he's done well. Among the stereotypical words and images:
Here are more im-Pruden-t remarks. Responses from correspondent Firehair (in italics) and me follow:
>> The mighty Chiricahua Apache chieftain, who terrorized the U.S. Cavalry in Arizona and New Mexico as the 19th century began to wane, weeps bitter tears somewhere on the happy hunting ground. He shouldn't have to cry alone. <<
I have no idea who this Pruden person is, but he needs a good talking to behind the woodshed—for openers. Richard Regan, who posts to [my] list, is being cc:d a copy, altho I'm afraid he's already seen it.
Pruden is editor-in-chief, supposedly. The newspaper is known for its conservative bias. It's owned by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon—a fact that may be significant, as we'll see below.
My son's gt. grandfather, with HIS brothers, rode with Geronimo—if Mr. Pruden knew anything about the culture, he wouldn't intimate/state Geronimo was crying, nor would he use the term "happy hunting grounds."
Pruden doesn't seem to have a clue that Natives have always protested injustices against them.
>> He has good reason to weep. Certain descendants of the noble red man, an examplar of courage, cunning and true grit for generations of American boys. <<
Since when have any non Native American boys had Geronimo—or ANY Indian—held up as an example of bravery, good and leadership???
Geronimo and other Indian chiefs and warriors are "held up" when white columnists want to make the fallacious claim that present Native leaders are different from past Native leaders. As if protesting the buffalo slaughter or whiskey sales was "genuine" but protesting Indian mascots or racial profiling isn't. (Of course, both sets of leaders have protested broken treaties and government malfeasance, so some things never change.)
Mascot protests = extortion?
>> are aping the example of the Rev. Jesse Jackson, of all people, extorting in the name of perverted notions of justice. <<
This is apples-and-oranges discussion ploy. Rev. Jackson has "gone for black" most of his life—only recently decided to play the "I have Indian blood" card. Few of us pay that any mind.
The point is that whatever Jackson does, it has no relevance to Richard Regan's actions. Nor is Regan tied to Jane Fonda, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, or Sacco and Vanzetti, as far as I know.
>> In the Rev's case, for a lot of wampum. <<
Wampum is Eastern Woodlands/Algonquin currency—again, mixing descriptive terms in the wrong context.
Pruden is trying to be clever and proving he isn't.
In fact, I think I hear something. Yes! Ding ding ding! That's the alarm bell announcing we have a winner!
I unofficially declare Pruden the 100,000th writer to use the word "wampum" when writing about Indians and money. He'll get his prize as soon as we womp 'im upside the head (metaphorically speaking, of course). Womp 'im...wampum...get it? (I slay myself sometimes.)
>> Running a race hustle can be very profitable, as the Rev demonstrates with his looting of corporate America, and it beats working. <<
Rev. Jackson is selling Christianity, the practices thereof—can Mr. Pruden explain what all this has to do with Geronimo?
See below for how much work protesting mascots can be. Sounds like more work than Pruden is doing. He should read Neil Steinberg's equally silly columns and come up with more original diatribes.
>> But it would shame Geronimo and the courageous redskins of an earlier, more virile America. <<
Again, Mr. Pruden knows not what he is saying—the term "redskins" denoted the bounty on Indian scalps, worth more than white, etc.
>> But he has big dreams. He wants to cleanse the entire state of Maryland of traces of Indians. <<
This is so ignorant, it's frustrating how to answer simply enough for Mr. Pruden's limited grasp—hmm—Mr. Regan wants to eliminate any trace of Indian mascot or other words, phrases, that stereotype or cartoon Native people.
Yes. He's told so many whoppers that it's hard to know where to begin. It's like Hitler's Big Lie technique: make a claim outrageous enough and people won't know how to challenge it.
>> After ethnically cleansing Maryland, Mr. Regan can then work on eliminating the Indian names of half the states. <<
Mr. Regan has no intent, other than supportive actions, to tackle anyone other than the state he resides and works in.
And calling his actions "ethnic cleansing" is a grostesque insult to Natives who have fought ugly stereotyping and to American soldiers (including Natives) who have fought real ethnic cleansing.
It's as grotesque an insult as calling Pruden, his wife and children, even his mother weasels. I hope Pruden doesn't take this comment the wrong way. The weasel is a brave, ferocious predator, much like a warrior mascot. Pruden should feel honored that I'm comparing his beloved mother to a ferret-faced rodent.
Indians trying to change state names...?
>> Illinois is the most odious of all, named for the Illini, a tribe of Algonquins who called themselves by their word for "warriors." <<
Naming a state for Native Indians who lived there is hardly the same as being Braves with a stupid logo. Duuh!
None of us have any problem with the state's name—show us where that is in print, anywhere?
Obviously it doesn't exist in print. Pruden is making up claims he thinks are analogous to belittle the actual arguments against mascots. It's a common but spurious propaganda technique.
University of Illinois mascot is another story, in print—big time.
Right. No one is claiming a state is "fierce" or "cunning" or some other personality trait. A state name is plainly neutral. The same is true of a coin (e.g., the buffalo head nickel) or a business establishment (e.g., Mohawk Printing or the Navajo Inn). Similarly, few people claim personality traits for a Pontiac or Winnebago, so these vehicle names are relatively innocuous. No one is wasting much time protesting them.
From what I've seen, Native people are mostly protesting the harmful names, not "every" name. Columnists who claim otherwise are either ignorant or lying. In Pruden's case I can't tell which.
>> But not just states. Potomac is out, along with Susquehanna, Patuxent and Monocacy. So are Assateague, Accokeek, Anacostia, Quantico and Mattaponi. <<
Mr. Pruden is talking thru his hat on the Native names of all these things. NO ONE has/is, or intends to attempt changing them. The Susquehanna, which has its mouth in Cooperstown, Otsego County, NY, is named for the Susquehannock People...the Potomac, named for a tribe settled in that area...Mattaponi (there are 3 tributaries of the river—names Matta, Po, and Ni—and of course, Mattaponi are a viable VA tribe.
>> Richard Regan says he is an Indian of the Lumbee Cheraw tribe, though his own Christian name, of sturdy Anglo-Saxon origin, renders this claim suspicious. <<
What did you expect his name to be: Richard Rolling Thunder? That you're ignorant of Indian naming patterns is almost as telling as your ignorant use of the vulgarism "redskins." Look it up in the dictionary if you're unclear on the point.
Gooood grief, where has this man been all his life, in a cave???? Almost all of us have Anglo names, Dutch names, Hispanic names, German names, Scots names. Look at the Creek Tribe—and the Cherokee. How does Mr. Pruden explain John Ross, the Lowrys, the MacLemores? Certain surnames abound among Indians, and run rampant in varying tribes, for several reasons, all of which can be documented. Sachem Cornplanter's Dutch name was John Abeel, his father being a Dutch trader.
...and appropriating Anglo names?
>> If he really is an Indian, his parents showed little sensitivity to Anglo-Saxon sensibilities when they appropriated the name Richard for a Lumbee child, and he shows even less regard for the common decencies by flaunting it. <<
This paragraph is so stupid, ignorant, racist, and just plain dumb—how does one answer it? Does Mr. Pruden state this about Leon Shenandoah...Chief of Chiefs of the Iroquois Confederacy...known, revered, respected world wide...now passed?
The Lumbee, one of America's largest tribes, bases in NC—have many Richards, Johns, Henrys, Williams, Janes, etc., etc. They are, under their 1956 Congressional Act...INDIANS.
Anglo-Saxons don't "own" their names, many of which come from Greek, Latin, Hebrew, or other languages. They don't own Richard, Leon, or Wesley. So "appropriation" is another of Pruden's phony issues.
No one is protesting the names of people like Geronimo Pratt, Cherokee Parks, or Cheyenne Brando. Native people are free to name their children "Richard" and Pruden is free to name his "Geronimo." But a publicly funded sports team is a different matter.
>> Racism, after all, is in the eye of the beholder <<
Is that so? Well, here's looking at you, Wesley.
A stupid and racist comment—again.
>> Could anyone imagine Geronimo or Sitting Bull as petty bureaucrats? <<
I could imagine Geronimo wompin' you upside your head....
>> Mr. Regan was so disappointed that he lapsed into a little insensitive himself. "I feel like the legs have been cut out from under us," he said. Such hate speech is probably in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act, and if not, should be, demonstrating unbelievable insensitivity to surgeons as well as to paraplegics. <<
Try researching prior to opening your mouth, Mr. Pruden. This phrase goes back to the time of the Romans. It means to disable, prevent from moving—in those times, [to] get their horses from under them. Didn't they teach you ANYTHING where you went to school??? A wordsmith you certainly are not.
>> Certain other Indian "activists" an "activist" is someone without a life <<
You have a typo in your column, Mr. Editor-in-Chief. How did you get your job...nepotism? Perhaps the questions should be whether you went to school, not where. As NAJA pointed out, your journalistic practices are dubious at best.
I'm not sure what "activists" Pruden is referring to, but if he wants to know what most Native Americans think, he can read the evidence at The Many Voices of Opposition.
The s-word, once again
>> They insist "squaw" is an Indian word for "prostitute," <<
Perhaps because it is—or something equally offensive. See Squelching the S-Word for more on the subject.
Siiiigh. Squ, variant forms, in Algonquin, were the suffix, designation for a female. The fur trappers, wanting women, would make a masturbatory gesture in their crotch area, saying "squw"—their phonetic pronunciation. Over time, it got bastardized. Hence, a good word, misused/offensive. In the Iroquian language, the similar word—spelled differently, sounding the same—means female genitalia. Hardly a courteous name for anything. (By the way, how many Native languages are you fluent in, seeing you are so sure of meaning/context?)
>> This shows shocking insensitivity to hundreds of gainfully employed ladies of the evening, and changing Squaw Valley to Hooker Valley is likely to offend a lot of pimps. Pimps are people, too. <<
In poor taste, not even amusing. Prostitution is, unless you live in Nevada, illegal. Definitely not witty repartee.
Since Pruden is pimping for the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, he should know. Below are some examples of the philosophy behind the Washington Times.
The Reverend Sun Myung Moon speaks at The Twelfth World Media Conference on The Mission of the Media in the 21st Century—August 22, 1992, in Seoul, Korea:
During these past ten years, I have invested one billion dollars in this newspaper. If I were pursuing political influence or personal wealth, or if I were trying to proselytize my religious beliefs, I would not have invested such a sum in a newspaper. Simply put, I founded The Washington Times in order to fulfill the Will of God.
I know that God loves America. America is a center of traditional Judaism and Christianity. It is the cradle of the spirit of modern Christianity. God's desire is that America play a central role in rescuing the entire world and that America maintain its traditional values, which have fallen into confusion in recent years. During the Cold War, God placed America in a position to block the attempt by communism to gain world domination. In the context of God's Will, it was most important that there be a newspaper that had the philosophical and ideological foundation needed to give encouragement to the people and political leaders of America. I certainly could not leave Washington, the capital of the United States, to be a victim of the leftist Washington Post.
Ironically, Moon seems to understand American history better than puppet-in-chief Pruden. Here are some of his typical remarks on Indians. From Where And How Do You Want To Live Your Life?—June 9, 1996, Belvedere (International Training Center):
While American Indians believed in God in order to protect their own tribe and race, the Christians from Europe believed in God in order to save the entire world. We have to wonder why God should have given blessings to those Europeans who eliminated the Native Americans. If those Pilgrim Fathers had not harmed the American Indians imagine how many of them would be living today in America. The history books of America claim that the Native Americans died from disease and sickness. Is that not what your history books teach? (Yes.) But that is not true. The American Indians had lived in America for hundreds of years prior to the arrival of the first Pilgrim Fathers. Then why should they suddenly die from various diseases? It happened because they were massacred. You young Americans must understand these facts.
The historians claim that Columbus discovered the American continent. In fact, Columbus was shipwrecked and he was saved by American Indians. However, the historians don't even consider the American Indians as human beings. Because of this mentality, force was used in order to eliminate the Native American Indians. This same mentality has continued throughout history. Even though America has generally prospered, Americans have become even more narrow. They focus on their own nation and race. America really has very little to do with the world.
Moon and Pruden: a hidden agenda?
Alas, Moon doesn't seem to understand the consequences of his own beliefs. America's doctrine of Manifest Destiny—that conquest was God's will—is exactly what happened to its Native people. Following precepts much like Moon's, Christian Americans massacred Indians and reveled in it.
Think about Moon trying to explain his contradictory beliefs and Pruden misunderstanding him. Think about Pruden's paper trying to implement Moon/God's will. Think about its cheerleading the conservative Washington establishment to break more treaties and eliminate more benefits.
Moonies and mascots: kind of scary when you think about it. Of course, none of it may be true. But it sure puts Pruden's "crusade" against Native activists and for Native mascots in perspective. As many have noted, systemic racism helps keep white Euro-Christians like Pruden in power.
>> Mr. Regan acts as if he speaks for Indians from sea to shining sea, though a Comanche of my acquaintance insists "there's no way we would listen to a Lumbee about anything." <<
No, Regan acts as if he knows the sentiment in Indian country against mascots—which he apparently does, since he's fighting against them.
As noted at the end of this posting, Pruden may be an outright liar. We can wonder if he invented his "acquaintance" and the alleged callers. We also can wonder if any real callers invented fictitious affiliations. It would be easy for Regan's opponents to call Pruden, pretend to be Indians, and say they love mascots.
Racist and Indian-against-Indian commentary. One Comanche does not speak for all Comanches. Thank the Creator.
If some Comanche actually was that rude about the Lumbee, it points too clearly to a problem rife around Indian country—the buying of the government's stereotypical criteria causing the "I'm more Indian than you are" syndrome.
Hm, does your "Comanche" have just an Indian name?
If Pruden didn't make that incident up—a distinct possibility—it may be David A. Yeagley. Yeagley's a real right-winger, from what I've heard and seen, so he may very well have contacts at the Washington Times. I disputed his views on guns in Some Arguments for Gun Control, even though he's an Indian.
He's one Comanche whose name doesn't sound very "Comanche." Perhaps this David is related to the Biblical David. Aren't Indians supposed to be one of the lost tribes of Israel?
Maryland has no tribes...so?
>> Indeed, several callers who identified themselves variously as Algonquin, Iroquois, Quapaw and Cheyenne note that Maryland — or Henrietta — has not a single Indian tribe. <<
Is this supposed to be a crushing conclusion? Wow. Talk about firing blanks.
That Maryland doesn't have any federally recognized tribes is all the more reason its schools shouldn't be "honoring" Natives. These schools have no ties to local Indians, and no reason to honor people in other states.
A team name like the Washington Senators or the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux at least makes sense, since there are senators in Washington and are (or were) fighting Sioux in North Dakota. A Maryland team named the "Redskins" makes about as much sense as a Maryland team named the Cowboys, 49ers, or Buffaloes.
When a state like North or South Dakota has an extensive honor roll of chiefs and warriors, that's when it's hardest to argue these names are inappropriate. Maryland's lack of tribes is a perfect reason why it shouldn't be using Indian nicknames.
For more on the "honoring" argument, see Fighting Sioux vs. Fighting Irish and Smashing People: The "Honor" of Being an Athlete.
More lack of knowledge of Indian country and what it's all about. 60% of this country's Natives/Indians are NOT federal, not reservation, not tribal and not on rolls. Many states have no tribes, not recognized, anyway. Check the Federal Census for 1980, 1990, 2000—and see how many Indians live in Maryland, or any other state, for that matter. Shouldn't be too hard. The data should be in the paper's files/morgue/archives somewhere. Check under "census"—or use the computer, you type in keyword "census," then hit search. It's really quite easy.
In short, one doesn't have to be an Indian from a Maryland tribe, an Indian from a non-Maryland tribe, or even an Indian to protest mascots. Thousands of people of all ethnicities are protesting them because they're wrong. Again, for more on that subject see The Many Voices of Opposition.
>> Mr. Regan, they scoff, is just another chief without any Indians. <<
Sour grapes, and a dozen undocumented comments do not a national opinion poll make. In all I have read, seen, sent out under Richard Regan's name, never, once, have I seen him call himself "Chief," say he wanted to be one, nor have I seen anyone else address him thus.
As to Richard Regan speaking for Indians from sea to shining sea—in some instances, he does—and he has a voice and position which makes the speaking noticeable.
Most people who tackle an issue are speaking and fighting for other people as well as themselves. I see no reason to apologize for it. The only time "speaking for others" is a problem is when they ask you not to, or you misrepresent their position.
There's no question how most Native people feel about mascots. Stating a fact is rarely if ever wrong, and it's factually true that most Native people disapprove of mascots. So speaking for others doesn't seem a problem in this case. We're all saying the same thing.
"Editor acts the fool"
All in all, Mr. Pruden throws Geronimo into this—to gain attention, it seems...and Jesse Jackson, who is black...attacks Richard Regan...when there are examples all over the country of activism and getting demeaning words, logos, teachings, etc. removed/stopped. This editor acts the fool, writes in such an uneducated, racist, and just plain stupid manner—you have to wonder.
No one involved in any of this makes a dollar. His premise is false, no basis in fact. I don't know of any activists, groups, who get a dime. Almost all have problems raising funds for the simplest of maneuvers. The logistics of rallies, legislating, driving, mailing, phoning, whatever, is mind-boggling to most of us. I, along with many others, carted our lunches to DC, shared rooms like cord wood stacked up. I personally got up, drove 5 hrs., came back, same day—I couldn't afford even the shared cost [and] still have gas to make the trip.
This man doesn't even attempt to get close to reality.
One final note: Geronimo wasn't a "chieftain." As one website puts it, he "was never a chief, but [rather] a medicine man, a seer and a spiritual and intellectual leader both in and out of battle." This is an excellent example of how pernicious stereotypes are.
When you see an Indian, he's often wearing a chief's war bonnet. When you talk about an Indian leader, he's often called a "chief." So the complex variety of leadership hierarchies is reduced to the erroneous "chieftain Geronimo."
Pruden is ignorant of the reality of Native history. Mascots and other stereotypes only reinforce his and everyone's ignorance. That's a "chief" reason Indians are protesting them.
If at first you don't succeed....
But wait, there's more. Perhaps sensing how weak his arguments were, Pruden tried again. From the Washington Times, 8/31/01:
Some respect, please, for frogs and pigs
The people at PETA — People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals — often act like a tree full of monkeys (they'll take that as a compliment), but now there's a crusade at hand that every reasonable friend of the animals can join.
If it's a crime to call a baseball club the "Warriors" and a football team the "Indians," the law ought not to allow insult to the noble beasts of field and forest by the appropriation of the names of 'gators, longhorns, frogs, wolves, chanticleers, razorbacks, wolverines, tigers, wildcats, cougars or even snakes and spiders.
Officials of public schools in Western Maryland say several parents have already approached them about whether animal mascots should be retired as "offensive," though it is a fact that so far there have been no complaints from actual lions, tigers or wampus cats.
A spokesman for PETA tells The Washington Times that her organization is "vehemently opposed" to the use of live animals as mascots, but so far has no objection to the use of animal names for athletic teams. This sounds very big of her, though it's cruel to deprive a bear, a pig or a falcon of a nice day in the fresh air of a stadium (now that no smoking is allowed), but when the PETA powers-that-be get a look at the headlines scarfed up by a Lumbee busybody in Montgomery County they may have second thoughts about the profitability of remaining calm and reasonable.
Steve Abrams, the inspector of public piety for the Montgomery County Board of Education, which threw the Indians out of Poolesville High School the other night, invites others to join the county's thriving community of professional complainers. If "reasonable people" object to a name, Mr. Abrams promised, the board will "examine" whether the name is consistent with its "human rights policy."
This should ring alarm bells at PETA headquarters. Where does Mr. Abrams get off elevating human rights over animal rights? Screaming eagles have feelings, too. And has the school board no regard for the tender psyches of the children entrusted to them? We must expect a young man to become a beast if we insist on calling him one. Mr. Abrams and his colleagues seem to have learned nothing from the carnage on a dozen schoolyards across the nation, where students said they were driven to violence by bullying from athletes who had been stripped of their humanity by the images of tigers, wildcats and alligators held up as examples to emulate.
Richard Regan, the Lumbee Cheraw brave who ignited this mighty firestorm on behalf of humanity, or at least the red portion of it, tried to organize a boycott of sponsors of Little League baseball teams, hoping to shut down the leagues unless the league found new names for teams with names such as Braves, Warriors and Redskins. Mr. Regan promises now to take his crusade to the other 30 or so Maryland schools with Indian names.
If a low-level bureaucrat with a lot of time on his hands — when he isn't busy taking offense, Mr. Regan is something called an "equal-opportunity manager" for the Environmental Protection Agency — gets big headlines, anybody can do it. Indians of other, fiercer tribes grumble that Mr. Regan threatens to change the popular image of the Indian from the courageous and resourceful warrior to just another sorehead looking for something to complain about. Worse, this stuff is as contagious as other social diseases.
Only yesterday, a group called the Virginia Heritage Coalition demanded that the American flag, of all banners, be struck from its pride of place in a cemetery in Luray, Va., because it waves over, or at least waves near, the graves of Confederate soldiers. Someone found an archaic state law, reflecting post-Reconstruction sentiments, that prohibits flying the Union banner over Confederate memorials.
"There's nothing wrong per se with the American flag," says a spokesman for the Virginia Heritage Coalition. "We just want the town to follow state law. We feel our Confederate heritage is under attack."
The sons and grandsons of those Confederate soldiers who sleep in honored glory under the sod of the Luray cemetery sons and grandsons who died under that American flag on a hundred battlefields from San Juan Hill and Chateau-Thierry to Saipan and Omaha Beach could tell the Virginia Heritage Coalition that there's nothing wrong with the American flag, per se or per anything else. They could look to the example of Robert E. Lee, who urged the gallant men of the Army of Northern Virginia to go home from Appomattox and be good Americans.
Marse Robert probably couldn't understand our modern culture of complaint and grievance. Neither would the noble braves of yesteryear.
Wesley Pruden is editor in chief of The Times.
Judging by their fatuous arguments, the mascot defenders are getting either more desperate or more stupid. Or both. It's hard to tell, since desperation and stupidity are often related.
If this were a standalone contest entry, the title might be "Wash. Times says Natives deserve same respect as frogs, pigs." Catchy, eh?
The simple answer to Pruden's illogic is that if animals said they were offended, the situations would be analogous. And we'd be morally right to consider their feelings. Since animals haven't said anything, the situations aren't analogous. Duhhh.
Pruden's claim that athletes have complained of being called tigers or wildcats is a fiction. So is his claim that Indians of "fiercer" tribes are worried about weakening their warrior image. I point this out since it may not be clear he fabricated these claims. (Now you see why Pruden deserves the weasel "honor.")
With comments like "Confederate soldiers who sleep in honored glory" and "Marse Robert," it seems Pruden's sympathies are with slave owners and defenders. The Confederate soldiers didn't fight for glory, they fought to protect an archaic and offensive institution—just as Pruden is doing. Like Pruden, their foolish cause was destined to lose.
As for Pruden's new stereotypes—calling Native people "red" and "braves"—neither one is accurate. Similarly, ethnic terms like "colored" and "wetback" are no longer acceptable in educated circles. Pruden may want to join such a circle so he can learn how to write intelligently.
Pruden shows more ignorance when he suggests Indians endured stoically, too "noble" to protest or complain. Actually, they protested long and loud about America's genocidal policies, its barbaric treatment of its first inhabitants. A few examples:
We have plenty of buffalo, beaver, deer and other wild animals. We have also an abundance of horses. We have everything we want. We have plenty of land, if you will keep your people off it.
Petalesharo (Pawnee Loups), statement at a conference, 1822
Then many of the white men often abused the Indians and treated them unkindly....Many of the whites always seemed to say by their manner when they saw an Indian, "I am much better than you," and the Indians did not like this.
Big Eagle (Santee Sioux), "Chief Big Eagle's Story of the Sioux Outbreak of 1862," 1894
The white people are all thieves and liars.
Spotted Tail (Brule Sioux), c. 1880
(There's no mention of what Spotted Tail thought of people like Pruden, but we can imagine.)
One probably could find hundreds of similar complaints from Indians—demanding or imploring that whites stop killing, looting, and pillaging and start keeping their promises and living up to their Christian standards. Native people denounced their treatment in word and deed.
Even warriors "complain"
Here's what that "courageous redskin chieftain" Geronimo had to say about his treatment. From the book Geronimo, in His Own Words, Chapter 21: Hopes for the Future, 1906:
There is a great question between the Apache and the Government. For twenty years we have been held prisoners of war under a treaty which was made with General Miles, on the part of the United States Government, and myself as the representative of the Apaches. That treaty has not at all times been properly observed by the Government, although at the present time it is being more nearly fulfilled on their part the heretofore. In the treaty with General Miles we agreed to go to a place outside of Arizona and learn to live as the white people do. I think that my people are now capable of living in accordance with the laws of the United States, and we would, of course, like to have the liberty to return to that land which is ours by divine right. We are reduced in numbers, and having learned how to cultivate the soil would not require so much ground as was formerly necessary. We do not ask all of the land which the Almighty gave us in the beginning, but that we may have sufficient lands there to cultivate. What we do not need we are glad for the white men to cultivate.
We are now held on Comanche and Kiowa lands, which are not suited to our needs—these lands and this climate are suited to the Indians who originally inhabited this country, of course, but our people are decreasing in numbers here, and will continue to decrease unless they are allowed to return to their native land. Such a result is inevitable.
There is no climate or soil which, to my mind, is equal to that of Arizona. We could have plenty of good cultivating land, plenty of grass, plenty of timber and plenty of minerals in that land which the Almighty created for the Apaches. It is my land, my home, my fathers' land, to which I now ask to be allowed to return. I want to spend my last days there, and be buried among those mountains. If this could be I might die in peace, feeling that my people, placed in their native homes, would increase in numbers, rather than diminish as at present, and that our name would not become extinct.
I know that if my people were placed in that mountainous region lying around the head waters of the Gila River they would live in peace and act according to the will of the President. They would be prosperous and happy in tilling the soil and learning the civilization of the white men, whom they now respect. Could I but see this accomplished, I think I could forget all the wrongs that i have ever received, and die a contented and happy old man. But we can do nothing in this matter ourselves—we must wait until those in authority choose to act. If this cannot be done during my lifetime—if I must die in bondage—I hope that the remnant of the Apache tribe may, when I am gone, be granted the one privilege which they request—to return to Arizona.
Hmm. "All the wrongs that I have ever received...." Sounds like a litany of complaints and grievances to me.
Does Pruden think Geronimo committed hari-kiri after his capture? Does he know Geronimo was a prisoner of war for 22 years? That Geronimo asked repeatedly for the land he was promised? I doubt it.
To be sure, Geronimo made his requests politely. Maybe it was his nature, or maybe he felt powerless after two years of hard labor in Florida, five years of captivity in Alabama, and 12 years of exile in Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. It's tough to talk tough when you're an old man with no bargaining chips.
Point is, Geronimo complained about the treatment he and his people received. Indian activists are complaining about the treatment they receive—including stereotyping via mascots. If Geronimo lived today, I suspect he'd be fighting for his people like a Wilma Mankiller, Vine Deloria Jr., or Billy Mills—and "complaining" about Indian mascots, just as they have.
As for respecting pigs, I've tried to give Pruden as much respect as I could muster. Sorry if it wasn't enough.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: firstname.lastname@example.org
More information for Pruden
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Ga. columnist compares Indian mascots to birds, snakes
Columnist says Indian activists are "whiners," "fusspots"
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Fighting the Fighting Sioux
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. . .
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