Harjo: Mascots preferred over real Indian people

"It seems that you have to be an ''Indian'' mascot or an Abramoff-like high roller in a skybox to get the attention of some members of Congress.

At the same time that Native Americans are still denied full access to the justice system, some legislators want to throw open the courthouse doors to those who stereotype Native peoples.

Usually, it doesn't matter when a few congressmen drop a private interest bill. But when one of the sponsors is Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, it matters.

The Hastert bill would hand a few schools a lawsuit against the National Collegiate Athletic Association, which has ruled that its members' ''hostile'' and ''abusive'' sports signifiers are not permitted in championship games. The bill is an admission that the schools don't have a legal leg to stand on.

Hastert's May 4 bill was introduced in reaction to the NCAA's April 28 decision to retain three universities on the list of those ''subject to restrictions on the use of Native American mascots, names and imagery at NCAA championships.''

Among the objectionable ''Indian'' references is one in Hastert's home state, ''Chief Illiniwek,'' mascot of the University of Illinois at Urbana - Champaign."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Note to Congress: Stop shielding 'Indian' mascots and start defending Indian people (Indian Country Today 6/9)

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