Sonic Sign in Missouri Declares ‘KC Chiefs Will Scalp the Redskins’


This morning a Sonic Drive-In Restaurant in Belton, Missouri displayed a street sign emblazoned with the following phrase: “KC CHIEFS” WILL SCALP THE REDSKINS FEED THEM WHISKEY SEND – 2 – RESERVATION. Within a few minutes of the sign being displayed, social media erupted against it and the restaurant’s phones were overloaded with complaints.

This sign appeared this morning outside a Sonic Drive-In Restaurant in Belton, MissouriCody Blackbird
This sign appeared this morning outside a Sonic Drive-In Restaurant in Belton, Missouri
Cody Blackbird

According to Cody Blackbird, who manages theNative Citizen News Networkon Facebook and posted the picture to his page, the sign was ridiculous. “I saw the sign and was like, ‘what the hell?’ how can a fast food chain put something like this outside their doors?”

Blackbird said he called the restaurant and spoke to the owner, Robert Stone.

Blackbird said he was not allowed to speak to the press, but he did say the employees who were responsible for the sign were a minimum wage cook, and an employee that didn’t know any better and was sent home crying.

“I explained the importance of negative stereotypes to the guy,” Blackbird said. “He seems like he cared about the issue and the owner said, ‘We wouldn’t even have this problem if the damn name of the team wasn’t the Washington Redskins.’”

Patrick Lenow, the vice president of public relations for Sonic Corp. issued the following statement in regard to the sign:

An independent franchise owner allowed two sets of remarks to be posted on a message board outside his restaurant. The remarks were wrong, offensive and unacceptable. His passion for his hometown football team and a reputation for creative remarks on his message board resulted in a lapse in judgment and he regrets allowing the remarks to be posted. The owner has reinforced with his employees the boundaries of what is acceptable and unacceptable. On behalf of the franchise owner and our entire brand we apologize for the offensive remarks.



Native Students Prep for College, Racism and Ignorance


Hillary AbeOne hundred College Horizons students mingle at the college fair with over 40 institutions represented
Hillary Abe
One hundred College Horizons students mingle at the college fair with over 40 institutions represented

Simon Moya-Smith

July 22, 2013

Approximately 100 indigenous high school students from 22 different states flocked to New York University this month to take part in a weeklong college fair.

Hosted by College Horizons, a nonprofit organization that prepares Native American students for the rigors of applying to and attending college, the students took part in workshops and lectures—and, of course, experienced the Big Apple.

“I think all but eight flew in to [New York] and about 20 had never been on an airplane before,” said Executive Director Carmen Lopez, a citizen of the Navajo Nation. “And about 75 of them had never been to New York City.”

Lopez said the students range in age from 15 to 17 years old and each student is either American Indian, Alaska Native or Native Hawaiian. This was the first timeCollege Horizonshosted a college fair in New York City.

Universities in attendance included Harvard University, Norte Dame and even representatives of the American Indian Community House of New York City were on hand to answer questions about the city.

In order to be accepted into the College Horizons program, Native American students were asked to provide a myriad of documents.

“[The students] submit an application, a personal essay, a list of activities, teacher recommendation, counselor recommendation, official transcripts,” said Lopez. “They don’t know it at the time of application, but they’re learning what they’re potentially going to do for college [applications].”

The college fair was also an opportunity for the students to learn what to do when faced with issues of racism on their prospective campus.

“If some of our students are going to go to schools, predominately white schools, they need to get ready for what that feels like, especially if they’re coming from a community that’s mostly Native people,” said Lopez. “We want to start to plant a seed for the kids with things that could happen—those [students] that may have a brush with racism and ignorance—so it doesn’t hurt as much when they do experience it.”

Genesis Tuyuc, a Maya Kaqchikel and a student at NYU, volunteered to assist the kids and faculty during the college fair. When the fair concluded, she said the goodbyes were “bittersweet.”

“I am happy to have worked besides such strong-willed people,” she said. “Their influence is immeasurable.”

College Horizons students received test preparation information and experienced an in-depth review of the college application process. (Hillary Abe)
College Horizons students received test preparation information and experienced an in-depth review of the college application process. (Hillary Abe)

Positive Reactions to Cooperstown Central Changing School Mascot


National Public Radio host Michel Martin talked with Ray Halbritter, of the Oneida Nation, about the gesture to pay for schools uniforms after the decision to change the “Redskins” name at Cooperstown Central School.  Listen here



February 25, 2013

The message that calling sports teams “Redskins” isn’t right seems to be getting across in some circles and, perhaps most important, to the younger generation.

Some, including Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, still say the derogatory term is fine. Though others say his argument, that it’s all right to use because there are some 70 high schools in 25 states that use the name, is weak.

In her February 13 Washington Post column titled, “On Washington Redskins’ name, it’s time the grown-ups talk sense into Daniel Snyder,” Sally Jenkins was one of them.

“If you’ve long suspected that football is not a measure of intellect…a series of prominently displayed pseudo-articles defend the club’s use of a racial slur as a mascot on the grounds that lots of high schools are nicknamed ‘Redskins’ too — so it must be okay,” she says. “Which we can only take to mean that pretty soon owner Daniel Snyder will be skipping class to build a potato gun.”


But Snyder couldn’t be more wrong. In fact, recent events fly in the face of his argument. Like at Cooperstown Central School, when in early February, the students there decided they no longer wanted to be known as the Redskins.cooperstown-central-school

When Cooperstown students stood up, national news media noticed. Their decision to get rid of the nickname was reported by The Associated Press, ESPN, Fox Sports, the Wall Street Journal and Indian Country Today Media Network.

“There were several students who came forward to the superintendent and myself,” Cooperstown Board of Education President Dr. David Borgstrom told ICTMN. “They told us how uncomfortable they felt about it and we made a commitment to educate the students about cultural diversity. When they brought it forward there wasn’t really any other response we could give them than, ‘You’re right.’”

Borgstrom said he’s incredibly proud of the students for coming forward and that the most important thing he has learned in this name-change process is just how socially aware the younger generation is and that they recognize the role they can play in making changes.

The older generations, especially alumni from schools that use the mascots under scrutiny, have been harder to change.

This has been the case in Cooperstown as well. Borgstrom said that when there was heated debate over the mascot changing at a board meeting, the students stood their ground. The next board of education meeting is scheduled for March 6. That’s when the official vote on whether to keep or remove the Redskins mascot will take place.

“What we have been discussing here has been linked to the football team in Washington and I think it has put more pressure on them and the Cleveland baseball team…. If a few students coming forward in Cooperstown paves the way for change elsewhere, wouldn’t that be wonderful,” Borgstrom said. “The way this is going it’s not out of the realm of possibilities.”


But changing monikers is going to cost money. Money that some schools just don’t have. That’s why when the Oneida Indian Nation heard about the students in Cooperstown, it offered to pay for the school’s new uniforms once a new nickname is chosen. Borgstrom couldn’t give a definite cost for new uniforms, but estimated it will cost between $5,000 and $7,000 to make the change.ONEIDA_NATION_LOGO

“You have announced a standard that recognizes that mascots which are known to dehumanize and disrespect any race of mankind have no place in our schools, or our great country,” wrote Oneida Nation Representative and CEO Ray Halbritter in a letter to the Cooperstown students. “We understand that your courageous decision also comes with a financial consequence and, unfortunately, potential backlash from those who somehow claim that ethnic stereotyping is a victimless crime.”

By providing monetary help, the Oneida Nation has taken one worry off the school board’s plate.

“I think it’s a wonderful gesture on the part of the Oneida Nation. It speaks to the importance of it to them,” Borgstrom said.

This could mean there are other tribal nations out there willing to help other schools that want to take the plunge and get rid of their Native mascots or logos.

That’s why in an upcoming issue of This Week From Indian Country Today, there will be a call to action to establish a fund to help other schools. The idea is to make students feel empowered, not hampered when thinking about making the decision to leave behind dehumanizing terms like “redskins.” Offering donations will be a way to help students understand they have help with this journey and won’t have to take money away from other programs their schools offer.