Maulian Smith: Indian people are not your mascots or costumes

A statue of an "Indian" in Skowhegan, Maine. Photo from Blowin in the Wind

Maulian Smith, a member of the Penobscot Nation in Maine, explains why Indian mascots are offensive:
Native indigenous people are not mascots. We are real living and breathing humans that are still in the modern world. Mascots place us in a metaphorical glass case of history and do damage to us because we can’t exist as equals in a world that sees us as an exhibit. Those feathers, clothing, customs and implements all have sacred and religious meaning and purpose to us. A purpose much higher than as symbols of a sports team of a small town high school. When they are mocked and misused, it takes our very identity, not only stealing it, but also disrespecting it.

I’d like to think that the people of Skowhegan with all their good intentions and pride in their hometown would want to do what is right, and now they have a great chance to do so. Honor all of us by changing the name. I want my kids to grow up in a world that doesn’t marginalize and misappropriate their culture, the very essence of who they are.

Could anyone imagine a mascot with a caricature of an African American or a Catholic priest? I would like to think there would be an outrage if a mascot was a white man in blackface or a person dressed in robes came out at half time to bless the crowd with holy water. Using the name “Indian” as a school mascot is equally as offensive.

Get the Story:
Maulian Smith: Indian is not a costume I wear (The Kennebec Journal 3/10)

Also Today:
Laura Ingraham mocks ‘Redskins’ protests: Native Americans think it’s ‘their Selma moment’ (Raw Story 3/10)

Join the Conversation