Michelle Obama Just Made Groundbreaking Remarks On Native American Struggles

AUTHOR: RYAN DENSON, addictinginfo.org

Get ready for right-wing heads to explode like you’ve never seen before: First Lady Michelle Obama just stood up for Native Americans and their plight in American history, and told every citizen far and wide that they are being stripped of their culture.

Speaking to Generation Indigenous, Michelle Obama touched on Native American history and today’s youth and how the United States government has ultimately stripped them of their heritage due to systemic discrimination, abuse and racism:

“You see, we need to be very clear about where the challenges in this community first started. Folks in Indian Country didn’t just wake up one day with addiction problems. Poverty and violence didn’t just randomly happen to this community. These issues are the result of a long history of systematic discrimination and abuse.”

“Let me offer just a few examples from our past, starting with how, back in 1830, we passed a law removing Native Americans from their homes and forcibly re-locating them to barren lands out west. The Trail of Tears was part of this process. Then we began separating children from their families and sending them to boarding schools designed to strip them of all traces of their culture, language and history. And then our government started issuing what were known as ‘Civilization Regulations’ – regulations that outlawed Indian religions, ceremonies and practices – so we literally made their culture illegal.”

These comments are truly groundbreaking coming from the First Lady. They speak volumes of the Obama Administration’s strive to be inclusive to all and remember our history’s stains. While Republicans, from state laws in Michigan and Wisconsin to acts of Congress, continue to throw Native Americans under the bus, the First Lady shares in their plight. I am sure Republicans will cry reverse racism and throw their hands in the air accusing her of pandering to anti-white “causes.”

But can you blame conservatives, who hold Ayn Rand in such high regard (cough cough Rand Paul and Paul Ryan)? Given the fact that Ayn Rand is on record saying:

“[The Native Americans] didn’t have any rights to the land and there was no reason for anyone to grant them rights which they had not conceived and were not using…. What was it they were fighting for, if they opposed white men on this continent? For their wish to continue a primitive existence, their “right” to keep part of the earth untouched, unused and not even as property, just keep everybody out so that you will live practically like an animal, or maybe a few caves above it. Any white person who brought the element of civilization had the right to take over this continent.”

The difference in ideology is striking.

“So given this history, we shouldn’t be surprised at the challenges that kids in Indian Country are facing today.  And we should never forget that we played a role in this.  Make no mistake about it – we own this,” Michelle Obama continued.

We are so lucky to have a First Lady like Michelle Obama. She speaks the truth, and she’s a realist. We must confront our past actions, realize the have long, lasting effects, and work to fix our mistakes. Burying our heads in the sand and saying “it’s in the past” is not going to work. Bravo, Madame First Lady.

Walmart Takes Twitter Beatdown Over ‘Fat Girl Costumes;’ Pocahottie Still OK

 Walmart.com's 'fat girl costumes' page is one of the all-time lowlights of e-commerce.
Walmart.com’s ‘fat girl costumes’ page is one of the all-time lowlights of e-commerce.


Steve Russell, Indian Country Today


They say that making fun of morbid obesity is the last socially acceptable form of prejudice.  And it’s hard to defend treating people badly over a serious health issue or, worse, destroying the self-image of children over something they may not be able to control.

Walmart got taken to task by the blog Jezebel for hawking a “Fat Girl” category of Halloween costumes.  The social media firestorm about adults so childishly ridiculing un-skinny women was heartening for those of us who were wondering what is next—a “Diabetes Department?”

In the same post, Jezebel also complained of racism, pointing out that Indians have also been put up again as objects of ridicule for Halloween in a stunning line of stereotypes, pocahottie for the females and Tonto for the males.

A costume that really says 'HOW! Can you possibly not see the racism here?' Source: Walmart.com
A costume that really says ‘HOW! Can you possibly not see the racism here?’ Source: Walmart.com

Walmart was slow to react, much slower than Twitter, but they finally took the “Fat Girl” section down (technically, it redirects to “plus size”) and came up with an appropriate Twitter auto-reply.

Customer: “Congrats on your ‘Fat Girl Costumes’ section.  Always keepin it classy, eh @Walmart?”

New Auto-reply: “This never should have been on our site.  It is unacceptable, and we apologize.”

Notice the straightforward nature of the apology.  No claim of tradition involving ridicule of fat people, especially girls or women, and no claim that those being ridiculed should understand it as an “honor.”  No hedging that they didn’t mean to poke fun at females with medical problems that cause the look being ridiculed.

The betting window is open on what they’ll say about the “Native American” costumes.  Making an issue of the body type of girls and women is bad, and those involved ought to be ashamed.  Does it ever occur to the same people that Indians are neither Pocahottie nor Tonto, and the endless bombardment with stereotypes might be bad for them as well?

Ridicule of fat people is a socially acceptable prejudice that ought not to be accepted.  But from Walmart to the antics of the fans at FedEx Field, Indians have caricature put in their non-warpainted faces every day.  Sambo and the Frito Bandido were retired years ago, and the Fat Girls insult disappeared instantly.

Chief Wahoo lives on, and the most popular sport in the U.S. tolerates a team name that is a racial slur.  Mockery of fat people is not the last socially acceptable prejudice, and a Twitter storm of righteous indignation just proved that.  Mockery of American Indians is.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/10/28/walmart-takes-twitter-beatdown-over-fat-girl-costumes-pocahottie-still-ok-157564

‘SCALP EM!’ Racist T-shirt for Sale After Florida State BCS Victory

Simon Moya-Smith, 1/14/14, Indian Country Today Media Network

Unauthorized fan merchandise surfaced on the web recently after the Florida State University Seminoles defeated the Auburn University Tigers at the BCS Championship last week.

Among the bevy of fan merch, one specific T-shirt has FSU officials rushing to see that it is discontinued.

The T-shirt, marketed as a “Florida State University 2013 National Champs Vintage Tee,” and manufactured by RowdyGentlemen.com, has the words, ‘SCALP ‘EM!,’ emblazoned across the chest. Below the text is an arrow and tomahawk.

Liz Maryanski, vice president for university relations, told Indian Country Today that on January 10, FSU officials began measures for an “emergency cease and desist” of all sales of the offensive T-shirt.

“We would never license that shirt,” Maryanski said. “That term is extremely derogatory and it’s offensive.”

Maryanski said that during such infringement issues, FSU employs a third party company, Collegiate Licensing, to address the matter. The company will then contact the unlicensed vendor directly, she said.

“Generally, they act very quickly,” she said.

Maryanski said that even if infringement were not an issue, FSU would work diligently to see that the T-shirt is eliminated.

“This is an infringement issue, but even it wasn’t, we would do everything in our power to shut it down,” she said.

Maryanski also said that FSU is “honored” to be able to use the Seminole name and is “very protective” of it.

RELATED Why Jim Warne Will Be Pressing Mute Button During Tonight’s BCS Game

Gary Bitner, spokesman for the Seminole Tribe of Florida, told Indian Country Today that the tribe is confident that FSU will make sure the shirt is discontinued.

“They (FSU) move quickly and effectively to do what needs to be done,” Bitner said, adding that the tee is a “terrible shirt.”

“It’s too bad that in 2014 we still see this kind of image and stereotypical presentation,” he said.

The Seminole Tribe’s Tribal Council authorized FSU to use its name and symbols and has an ongoing relationship with the university, Bitner said.

“The relationship between Florida State and the Seminole Tribe is one of mutual respect,” he said.

As of January 13, the T-shirt has not been taken down from the website and is still for sale.

Representatives of RowdyGentlemen.com did not respond to Indian Country Today’s request for comment.

An undefeated FSU beat Auburn 34-31 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, on January 6.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/01/14/scalp-em-racist-t-shirt-surfaces-following-florida-state-bcs-victory-153092

3 police officers sue Everett, allege racial discrimination


By Diana Hefley and Rikki King, The Herald

EVERETT — Three Everett police officers are suing the city alleging that they were denied promotions based on their race and subjected to a hostile work environment when they complained about being passed over.

One officer, retired Sgt. Richard Wolfington, alleges that he was forced to quit in February after 20 years with the department. He claims that he was repeatedly skipped over for promotions in favor of white officers. Wolfington is Native American.

He also alleges that Capt. David Fudge retaliated against him when Wolfington complained that Fudge was violating department policies. He said the mistreatment caused his health issues.

Two other officers, Sgt. Manuel Garcia and Sherman Mah, also allege that their civil rights were violated when they weren’t promoted.

“Everett’s police department is in charge of upholding the law, not breaking it,” Bellevue attorney Victoria Vreeland said. “City leaders were informed about these repeated civil rights violations and retaliation, but did nothing to correct it.”

Garcia was the first Hispanic and bilingual officer in the department. He started in 1988 and has been a sergeant since 2002. Mah has been with Everett since 1995. He has sought promotions for 15 years and has been skipped over multiple times, according to the lawsuit. He claims he wasn’t promoted because he is Asian-American.

All three officers allege that the city ignored and failed to investigate their complaints.

Police Chief Kathy Atwood and Fudge also are named in the lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Attorneys for the complaining officers initially filed a claim for damages with the city on Oct. 10. The documents say each officer could seek $1 million or more.

The city plans to fight the lawsuit, spokeswoman Meghan Pembroke said Wednesday in a prepared statement.

“The city investigated the plaintiffs’ allegations and determined they were without merit,” she said.

The Everett Police Department conducts employee evaluations and promotions based on officers who are the most capable and effective leaders, she said.

“It is important to underscore that the Everett Police Department’s core values include integrity, professionalism and honor, and the department is dedicated to providing a supportive, nondiscriminatory work environment,” she said.

Garcia alleges that he has repeatedly reported to his superiors derogatory remarks made about his race. In the initial claim, Garcia alleged he was told by supervisors not to attend National Night Out events in a neighborhood where “rich people” live, but to instead stick to an event sponsored by a Hispanic community group.

Garcia in 2010 ranked first on the eligibility roster for a lieutenant position. He said he was passed over for a white officer who was ranked third on the list.

In 2011, he was promoted to lieutenant and placed on a standard six-month probation. He alleges that Fudge “treated him more harshly and put extreme pressure and unreasonable expectations on him which Fudge did not place on Caucasian lieutenants on probation or otherwise,” Vreeland wrote in the lawsuit.

Garcia reported to his chain of command that he believed he was being unfairly targeted. He claims neither the city nor the police department investigated his complaints of unfair and unequal treatment.

At the end of the probationary period, Fudge recommended that Garcia be demoted back to sergeant. The lawsuit says that Atwood was aware of Garcia’s work history, good performance and “long-time work dedicated to improving the Everett (Police Department’s) relationship with the minority community.”

Garcia is well-known in Everett as the face of the annual Casino Road Futbol Academy. The camp offers soccer lessons and mentoring to hundreds of children primarily from low-income or minority families, especially from south Everett. Before coming to the U.S., Garcia played professional soccer in Mexico.

Atwood approved the demotion without any further investigation, according to the lawsuit. Garcia claims that he is the only officer in at least the last 20 years to be demoted immediately after the expiration of the probationary period. He alleges white officers have been given extensions or transferred to different supervisors.

Wolfington and Mah also allege that promotions were given to white officers who ranked lower than them on the eligibility list. They also say that they weren’t appointed to acting positions to gain experience for higher levels.

In one instance, Wolfington alleges that another sergeant was promoted to acting lieutenant over him even though the other officer hadn’t sought the promotion and wasn’t on the eligibility register, according to the lawsuit.

Wolfington claims that Fudge retaliated against him when he reported that the captain was engaged in an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate female officer. Wolfington said he complained about Fudge treating him and Garcia more harshly. He said the city ignored his complaints.

Wolfington said he “forced to call in sick numerous times” because of ongoing mistreatment. He said he was disciplined for his increased use of sick leave.

Second Sign Does Little to Correct the Racist Nature of First Sign at Sonic in Belton, MO

This sign was Version II: Attempt to rectify Version I
This sign was Version II: Attempt to rectify Version I

By Levi Rickert, Native News Online

BELTON, MISSOURI – As if the first sign was not bad enough, an attempt to fix an obvious racist message on the portable sign at the local Sonic Drive-In in Belton, Missouri on Sunday was not much of an improvement.

The Native News Online ran a story yesterday and an Opinion on the inappropriate racists sign late Sunday night. At the time, it was not known to the Native News Online staff that there were two versions of the sign in front of the Sonic.

Version I:


Apparently, someone told the author of the sign, it was offensive to American Indians.

Version II:



The second version – while slightly blurry – was posted on a Twitter account. Social media has kept this story alive.

The Native News Online staff contacted Sonic Drive-In earlier today for confirmation that photograph was legitimate.

The response from Sonic’s Patrick Lenow, vice president of media relations for the 3,500 chain:

“There were two offensive, wrong messages posted. Our understanding is that the first was displayed for about 15 minutes and a poor attempt to rectify it was posted for about 10 minutes, so both were part of the same incident. Both messages are unacceptable and contrary to the values of our company. Sonic and the local owner are sorry that such unacceptable messages were posted for any duration and are working through a process to prevent any type of reoccurrence.”

When the Native News Online yesterday contacted Mr. Lenow and Robert Stone, franchisee of the Belton Sonic, neither of the two revealed there were two different messages.

Mr. Stone indicated he would not fire the employee who posted the sign, but would educate his entire staff about what is appropriate.


Revisiting racism


Ravalli comments leave tribal elders thinking of the past


 Missoula Independent

by Jessica Mayrer  December 5, 2013


 Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal elder Tony Incashola Sr. says that despite experiencing racism from the time he was a child growing up in the 1950s on the Flathead Indian Reservation, he couldn’t help feeling surprised by a Ravalli County official’s portrayal of American Indians during a public meeting last month as drunken lawbreakers.

“I guess I shouldn’t be,” Incashola, 67, says. “I’ve lived with that all of my life … When I was a kid, it was like standing at a department store on the outside looking in. You see the non-Indian children having fun. You felt like an outsider, that you weren’t welcome, because you didn’t dress right and you had a different color.”

Incashola, who serves as director of the Salish-Pend d’Orielle Culture Committee, has dedicated much of his life to fostering an understanding of indigenous ways. Education breeds familiarity, he says. Familiarity helps break down the fear that breeds racism. Efforts such as his are paying off. Incashola says that racism is less apparent than when he was young. That makes the Nov. 20 meeting in Ravalli County all the more troubling.

The meeting involved a discussion between CSKT delegates and the Ravalli County Board of Commissioners about how best to care for a historic Bitterroot Valley property known as Medicine Tree that the Salish have considered sacred for hundreds of years. CSKT wants to transfer the property from tribal ownership into federal trust with the Bureau of Indian Affairs. CSKT representatives stated that the 58-acre parcel is central to Salish creation stories, ones that detail how “Coyote,” a being imbued by the creator with special powers, made the land “safe for humans yet to come,” Incashola says.


When explaining the importance of such a transfer, the CSKT say that the Medicine Tree parcel provides a connection to indigenous history—a link that helps preserve a strong sense of tribal identity. The CSKT add that the transaction will help grow their land base and, therefore, give them a more powerful voice when negotiating their rights and responsibilities with government agencies.

CSKT attorney Teresa Wall-McDonald told the Independent that placing land into trust helps the tribes gain back losses accrued when the federal government opened the Flathead Reservation to non-native homesteaders in 1910. Between 2009 and August 2013 alone, the CSKT placed approximately 81,000 acres into trust.

“Part of the process of restoring our homeland includes restoring the land,” Wall-McDonald says. “It is part of rebuilding our homeland, what I call nation building.”

The Ravalli County Commission, however, has steadily opposed the CSKT’s request. Among the commissioners’ stated concerns is the loss of roughly $800 in property taxes that would result from the transfer. They also worry about the potential impacts of having a pocket of sovereign land set aside within their county, and why the tribes would want to work with the federal government rather than local. At the Nov. 20 meeting, they asked specifically if the tribes intended to erect a casino atop the parcel.

Later during the same meeting, Ravalli County Planning Board Chair Jan Wisniewski warned commissioners of the CSKT’s request, saying that American Indians have a history of using trust lands as a refuge to “get drunk and try and run back into the reservation so they don’t get caught,” according to meeting minutes.

“The county cannot go into that sovereign nation to apprehend the drunken Indians,” he said. “So the jails are full of Indians (sic) which cost us tax dollars. One jail in particular (Havre?) had a count of 58.”

In response to Wisniewski’s testimony and the behavior of the Ravalli County officials, Bitterrooter Pam Small posted an online petition demanding that the commission apologize for the county’s “cultural insensitivity and ignorance” that garnered nearly 500 signatures.

Such criticism helped persuade the commissioners on Nov. 27 to issue an apology to the tribes. Roughly 20 Bitterroot residents attended the meeting, with many of them verbally lashing out at the commissioners, characterizing the county’s overall treatment of the CSKT as “paternalistic” and akin to “an inquisition.”

“The whole tone of this meeting was confrontational,” former Ravalli County attorney George Corn said. “They were grilled by your attorneys … At best it was denigrating. At worst, it implied racism.”

In response to the onslaught, county commissioners say that the Nov. 20 discussion was taken out of context—that they were only attempting to evaluate all possible outcomes that could result from the transfer. “It was in no way condescending or adversarial,” Commissioner Jeff Burrows said last week, before the commission voted to hand-deliver an apology to the tribes.

Wisniewski’s legal advisor, Robert C. Myers, echoes the commissioners when maintaining that his client’s statements were taken out of context. “We don’t know yet fully what was actually said,” he says. “People hear what they think they hear.”

For Incashola, the issue comes back to education and respect. For instance, he says the thought of the tribes placing a casino on Medicine Tree is preposterous and reflects a misunderstanding of the importance the CSKT place on preserving their culture.

“I think the county commissioners don’t understand,” Incashola says.

The whole back and forth leaves him weary.

“I get so tired of trying to defend my identity, to try to defend my values,” he says. “I feel that what happened in Hamilton is just plain ignorant.”

Incashola says his elders, who faced the worst kind of racism, taught him that there are more good people in the world than bad. He takes some comfort in that thought. In light of what transpired in Ravalli County, however, Incashola isn’t confident that racism will ever completely disappear.


Richie Incognito, Redskins and Racism in the NFL

By Gyasi Ross, Huffington Post Blog

“Once upon a time, a woman was picking up firewood. She came upon a poisonous snake frozen in the snow. She took the snake home and nursed it back to health. One day the snake bit her on the cheek. As she lay dying, she asked the snake, “Why have you done this to me?” And the snake answered, “Look, bitch, you knew I was a snake.” -Russell Means, Natural Born Killers

Irritatingly, the “Richie Incongito Is a Bully” and the “Richie Incognito Said the Word ‘Nigger'” storyline has been dominating the ESPN Sportscenter episodes recently. Just as my Seahawks get good enough to command serious national attention, some idiot who is considered an “honorary black man” by many of his fellow Miami Dolphins teammates simultaneously has 1) Shannon Sharpe crying like an infant; 2) white liberals judging this white man as if he were the first and only white man that has ever said this word; and 3) black folks upset.

I’m just mad that they’re not talking about the Seahawks. They are that good, y’all.

But since we’re on the topic, let me explain something — EVERY single person that is crucifying, judging or distancing themselves from Richie Incognito is a freakin’ hypocrite. Shannon Sharpe, with your self-righteous boo-hooing, you are a freakin’ hypocrite. In fact, every single NFL fan that acts like Richie Incognito saying the word “nigger” and bullying a teammate is the worst assault on polite society since Chad Ochocinco, you need to quit lying to yourselves.

To paraphrase the great Russell Means in the great Oliver Stone flick, Natural Born Killers, “Bitch, you knew Richie Incognito was a snake.”

“Bullying” is to football what “football” is to football.

First, let’s address these stupid “bullying” allegations. OK, news flash guys, football is bullying; let’s not romanticize the game and pretend that sportsmanship is a vital part of the game. In fact, that IS the game — to be the better bully than the other guy. From Dick Butkus (Hall of Fame, eye gouger) to Bill Romanowski (future Hall of Famer, spits in his teammates face, kicks opponents) to Jack Tatum (would have been Hall of Famer if he didn’t paralyze a player in a preseason game, kicked opponents) — DIRTY, bullying players have been CELEBRATED and coveted on NFL teams. Look at Ndamukong Suh — he’s as dirty as George W. Bush’s drug test in college, but because of his talent level, teams will always find a way to keep him on a team.

Incognito’s (and every other NFL player’s) job is to be a bully. The NFL is about bullying; for the NFL or anybody associated with the NFL to feign shock at Incognito for being a bully, you’re full of feces. Like Natural Born Killers, you’re blaming for being a snake in a snakepit.

How to address that? Stop rewarding snake-ism; change the snakepit. Which leads to the next point:

Racial Slurs Are Part of Everyday Culture

Richie Incognito, a white man, said the word “nigger.” That’s bad. Shannon Sharpe gave an impassioned, emotive performance about why the notion of Richie Incognito, a white man, saying the word “nigger” was so offensive. He said:

“[Y]ou allow this, in an open locker room to take place, is unacceptable. I’m so disappointed. I just hope that someone was misquoted. I hope I’m wrong and they didn’t allow Incognito to say this racially charged word in a locker room and go unchecked. I’m embarrassed. If he said that to Jonathan Martin, he didn’t only say it to him, he’s talking to you too. Because if you’re black, you know what that word means.”

Yet last year, the Washington Redskins brought in Shannon Sharpe to give a motivational talk to the Redskins players. That’s cool, although the strategy hasn’t seemed to really work that well on the field for the Redskins. Still, it’s odd that neither Shannon Sharpe, or really any of the NFL folks that decry Incognito’s racial slurs, have bothered to point that Sharpe and every other NFL announcer speaks a racial slur every single week — Redskins.

So the argument goes, Richie Incognito saying (and texting) the word “nigger” shouldn’t bother Sharpe. After all, Richie Incognito, according to teammates, was an “honorary black man.” That gave him permission to use the word as he saw fit, or that’s the way he saw it. Obviously these black men in the Miami Dolphins locker room weren’t offended by his use, and so that made it OK, right?

No? Of course not; it’s never OK for a person who isn’t black to use the word “nigger.”

But we also must concede that in the NFL, folks are conditioned to see that sort of behavior as OK. See, Shannon Sharpe and other black NFL announcers don’t seem to get it; they perpetuate this snakepit/racist culture that allows epithets to be used and then excused. The roots of the NFL, just like the roots of this very nation, are racist and firmly entrenched in overt and covert racism. That isn’t Shannon Sharpe’s (or other black players/coaches/announcers associated with the NFL) fault. YET, Shannon Sharpe, and all other black NFL announcers and players and coaches who allows and abets and doesn’t question the use of racial slurs other than “nigger” co-signs the very environment that allows Richie Incognito and Riley Cooper and whoever else to use that ugly word so flippantly.

Shannon Sharpe and Michael Strahan and James Brown and ever NFL player/coach/announcer who takes exception to non-black players using the word “nigger” should be disgusted and refuse to address the Washington Redskins — a racial epithet — as the “Washington Redskins” because that is the cornerstone of the racist culture that permeates the NFL. Shannon Sharpe, if he wants his outrage to be taken seriously, must not take the blood money that the Redskins give him — hush money for racial epithets.

It’s that quiet acquiescence on behalf of black folks associated with the NFL, like Sharpe, that makes rich white powerholders like Daniel Snyder say, “Well damn, they don’t really care about racial equality. They just want to get paid. Come talk to our team named after a racial epithet so you can lose your moral high ground to ever feign racial outrage.”

In conclusion, the culture of the NFL can change in regards to both bullying and the use of racial epithets. Yet, that only happens if folks like Shannon Sharpe give more than lip service to these causes. The NFL will never be able to selectively ban racial epithets — it’s kinda all or nothing when you’re trying to change a culture. So if the purpose is to change that culture, let’s go. Until that time, it’s just a bunch of a hypocritical hot air.


Gyasi Ross is a member of the Blackfeet Indian Nation and also comes from the Suquamish Nation. Both are his homelands. He continues to live on the lovely Suquamish Reservation — contrary to Rick Reilly’s assertion, no white liberals influenced his writing of this article. He is a father, an author, a lawyer, and a warrior. He has a new book, How To Say I Love You in Indian, available for pre-order. (Pre-order today!!). His Twitter handle is @BigIndianGyasi. He is a Seahawks fan and sees the Redskins as an inferior team, but readily acknowledges RGIII’s potential greatness (and hopes Alfred Morris does well because Morris is on his fantasy football team).


Follow Gyasi Ross on Twitter: www.twitter.com/BigIndianGyasi

‘Dad, Are They Making Fun of Us?’ Being a Parent in the Age of ‘Redskins’

N7Fund.comWilson Pipestem

Wilson Pipestem

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

Wilson Pipestem is reshaping the ‘R’ word name-change discussion by explaining why tradition should not trump racial sensitivities–especially when it comes to Native youth.

Pipestem, an enrolled member of the Otoe-Missouria Tribe and an Osage headright holder, joined MSNBC’s UP W/Steve Kornacki to discuss why Dan Snyder, the team’s owner, and Roger Goodell, should take the name-change debate suggestions seriously.

Wilson said that two of his children, in the 5th and 7th grades, came home from school one day and asked a profound question about the team’s name.

“Dad, are they making fun of us?”

As the father of four young kids, he knew it would be a discussion that they had to sit down and talk about.

“When you are an Indian parent and you are trying to teach your kids that it is a good thing to be an Indian and should respect other people who are different than us…and you try to teach them that the ceremonial use of paint, and the use of eagle feathers are sacred; and that these are good things, that it makes it more difficult when these sort of things are a part of a significant institution within our society,” Wilson told the panel on MSNBC.

Jacqueline Pata, executive director of the National Congress of American Indians agrees with Wilson. “The welfare and future of our youth is at stake,” she said in earlier news release. “We are working every day to ensure they are able to grow up and thrive in healthy, supportive communities. Removing these harmful mascots is just one part of our effort to encourage our children to achieve their greatest potential.”

The NCAI recently released a 29-page report that explains, in part, the psychological effects that racial slurs and mascot imagery have on Native children. Wilson did not specifically reference the report, but spoke out as a Native parent.

He also said that the AP’s April poll results, which were flashed across MSNBC’s TV screen, would slight as people are confronted with George Preston Marshall’s racist background and the history behind the slur.

“Ignorance is a very powerful enemy. And it’s particularly powerful for Indian people who are fewer in numbers and many of us live in isolated places,” Wilson said. “But I think what we’re seeing is a moral change, and the public is becoming-the society is just becoming more educated on the issues.”

Ultimately, Wilson, a Native American Civil Rights Lawyer, who lives in Washington, D.C., told the panel that the football team would change its name as they become more educated about the team’s history.

“They will realize that when society is confronted with this truth, there is going to be change… ”


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com//2013/10/24/dad-are-they-making-fun-us-being-parent-age-redskins-151897

NCAI Welcome President Obama’s Support to Change Offensive NFL Team Name


President Obama joins the DC Mayor and City Council, leaders inCongress, and state governments around the country.
President Obama joins the DC Mayor and City Council, leaders in
Congress, and state governments around the country.

Source: Native News Network

WASHINGTON – In an interview with the Associated Press, President Obama joined the growing chorus of Americans calling for the Washington NFL Team to consider changing its name.

The President noted that the team name is offensive to a “sizeable group of people.” Obama also affirmed the “real and legitimate concerns” of Native peoples – and many others – calling for the team to drop the “R” word.

“President Obama’s remarks underscore the fact that has become increasingly obvious – the Washington franchise is on the wrong side of history,”

said NCAI President Jefferson Keel in a statement responding to the President’s remarks of support.

“The “R” word is a racial slur, deeply offensive to Native Americans. It originated in the bounty paid for Native body parts and human flesh. It does not honor Native peoples in any way and has no place in modern American society.”

“It’s 2013. It’s time for leadership at the Washington team to heed the growing chorus – from high school students to Commissioner Goodell, and now the President of the United States – and close the chapter on this offensive name,”

added NCAI Executive Director Jacqueline Pata.

Background on the 45 Year Effort to Urge the Washington Team to “Drop the R Word”

Removing the name and caricatures associated with the Washington football team and other denigrating sports teams and mascots has long been the position of NCAI, the nation’s oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of the nation’s 566 tribal governments and the over 5.2 million Native peoples.

In a soon to be released background paper on the era of racist “Indian” sports mascots, the organization underscores the importance of dropping the “R” word and provides contemporary and historical background on the need to end the era of harmful and racist mascots. Among the key insights from the paper:

  • The Washington team’s name is part of the racist legacy of the franchise, most prominently represented by former owner George Preston Marshall’s hard fought campaign against racial integration.
  • Native organizations and tribal nations have undertaken a sustained 45 year campaign to get Washington to change the name – since the team’s name was registered as a trademark.
  • President Obama joins the DC Mayor and City Council, leaders in Congress, and state governments around the country who have called for an end to racist “Indian” mascots.
  • There is a growing sense from the NFL itself that considering a name change is warranted. This year alone, Rodger Goodell has noted that “if one person is offended we have to listen” and has responded to racial language by Riley Cooper (who used the “N word”) by calling it “obviously wrong, insensitive, and unacceptable.” Also, former Washington Hall of Famers Art Monk and Darrell Green said a name change “deserves and warrants conversation” because it is offensive to Native peoples.
  • There is a diverse and growing chorus of organizations standing against the racist name and sporting teams (from high school to college) dropping the “R” word.

The ‘Blackskins’ Story: A Strong Image Provokes a Strong Reaction

Source: Indian Country Today Media Network

On Friday, ICTMN published an essay, “Fun Racism Quiz: Would NFL Have a Team Called Washington Blackskins?”, and provocative image by Gerard Miller that he had published some time ago, as a college undergraduate. Miller, an African American, said that the piece had convinced some of his fellow students — ones who didn’t care about the controversy over the Redskins football team name — that it was an issue they should care about.

The image is a strong one, and it inspired strong reactions from many of our Facebook followers, as well as debate in a comment thread that has now stretched to over 500 entries. There are many insightful comments in the thread—and many that aren’t insightful.

Wayde Sid McCloud contributed one of the first responses, and to some extent hit the nail on the head: “When the African American cries racism, America has your back 100%. When Native Americans talk about racism towards them, it’s ignored!”

He may be exaggerating with “has your back 100%” but it’s safe to say that America has developed pretty good radar when it comes to racist images and words directed at African Americans. The Blackskins image is obviously racist. Nobody could argue that it is a “tribute” to African Americans. Through perseverance, the black community has largely succeeded in educating the rest of America about what images and words are disrespectful and harmful—but, unfortunately, Native Americans haven’t gotten to that stage. When Natives call out an image as racist, they are often challenged. Everything from “It’s a tribute” to “You’re just being politically correct” to “It’s a tradition—get over it.” Would anyone advance those same arguments to a black person who was (rightfully) offended by the Blackskins image?

Some commenters (and there is no telling, on Facebook, whether the people chiming in have read the article) saw the Blackskins image as a “cheap shot” directed at African Americans, and wondered why American Indians would “attack” another group that also faces discrimination but isn’t involved in the Redskins mascot discussions. The Blackskins image was not an attack on African Americans.

Look how far we have come—from a country that allowed slavery 150 years ago to one in which the Blackskins image would not be tolerated for a second. Every thinking American sees that it is racist, and that’s laudable progress. And “Blackskins” isn’t even a racial slur anyone uses.

Unfortunately, take the same image, substitute a 19th-century conception of a noble Indian and print the word “Redskins—which is a slur according to any dictionary—beneath it, and America goes blind to the racism. So blind that it’s considered suitable for t-shirts, bumper stickers, and baby attire. And that’s the point. American Indians have seen black Americans make great strides in reclaiming human dignity after brutal historic oppression. Black Americans in the year 2013 have made progress toward that mountaintop, and as a black man, Gerard Miller knows that. He also knows that American Indians would like to catch up.


Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/09/15/blackskins-story-strong-image-provokes-strong-reaction-151291