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Racism is ingrained, unrecognizable

by: PAMPLIN 
MEDIA GROUP: 
CHASE ALLGOOD - Banks Principal Jim Smith, 
who is part Native American, says the Oregon Board of Education decision to eliminate certain school nicknames is “telling Indians how they're supposed to feel and think.As far as the racism so ingrained that it is not recognized, consider the Irish: A police van is called a Paddy Wagon, 'Paddy' being a derogatory name for the Irish.

Unruly sports fans are called 'hooligans,' another slur.

Sports teams called the 'Irish' have a pugnacious caricature of small man with a big head and a red beard dressed in green. There isn't an Irish person on the team and no understanding of the cultural significance of green or of leprechauns. Teams called the Celtics have similar caricatures.

Arguing to name a team the 'Wops' or the 'Spics' is not as big a stretch as some might think (Tribal names aren't an honor to all, June 14). The writer, Carol Craig, just got the nationality wrong. Her point is well taken. Remember the 'Frito Bandito'?

A point that Craig did not make is that most common names for tribal groups in popular use are derogatory names given to the tribe by its enemies. The name used for a tribal group should be the one that (the tribe itself) uses or one that it prefers, not names that mean big belly, or bone in the nose, or savage.

Bill Cloran

Southwest Portland

Mascot names are worthy of respect

Team and mascot names are typically selected by agreement that those names selected are worthy of respect and admiration. So we admire leaders, soldiers and heroes with honorifics.

But if those people are associated with Native Americans, the Oregon Board of Education has determined that they may not be so honored or respected (What's in a nickname?, May 31).

Why not honor Native American tribes, leaders and warriors with due respect? Because they did not win their battles with the invading Europeans? That decision is pure racism and should be so considered.

Geoffrey A. Gass

Southwest Portland

Stereotypes stifle Native American

culture

I am not a Native American and I stood up at two hearings in Salem in full support of the ban (Tribal names aren't an honor to all, June 14). It was disgusting seeing a parade of white student leaders beg for their Indian cartoon lucky charms. One student even told the state Board of Education - including Klamath tribal members and board Chairwoman Brenda Frank - how his team rubbed the head of their Indian effigy for good luck on the way out of the locker room.

Gross.

I live near Molalla and I loathe the lurid orange cartoon clip art Indian, with its historically incorrect war bonnet that Molalla pretends it is honoring.

These hideous stereotypes of Indians are racist insults to proud people working to protect and re-establish cultures. I am thankful the state Board of Education listened to the professionals who explained how harmful this is to Native American students and to our fellow contemporary Native American citizens. I stand with you to make certain the ban is upheld.

Susan Hansen

Molalla

Scappoose should embrace spirit

Why should Scappoose High give up its Indian heritage (Oregon passes ban on Native American mascots, May 17)?

I say just change the mascot to a 'Spirit' animal. The raven would be a great fit - the raven is known in Indian culture as the trickster.

Matt Smith

Portland

Tribal mascots must be replaced

I am glad these tribal mascots will be replaced (What's in a nickname?, May 31).

Kerry Eggers' article reminded me of a drive years ago to Newport when we would pass by a restaurant and see the large sign of a caricature of Little Black Sambo. It is no longer there, but it made me feel sad to see thousands of people doing the 'Tomahawk Chop.'

As a Native American elder who for the most part lives comfortably in the dominant society, I am uncomfortable when I see people imitating our tribal dances. Many of us consider these traditional dances sacred. These are tools of separation, in my view.

Chris Smith

Southwest Portland

Waiting for the ‘Portlandia' episode

I read with interest about the state school board's decision to withdraw funding from any school with a Native American mascot (What's in a nickname?, May 31).

It is curious that the Euro-centric tribal names and images are allowed, while banning images of tribal Native Americans. For example, it appears that the David Douglas Scots, an ancient tribe which once populated what we now call Ireland and Scotland, is acceptable while the Banks Braves is not.

Similarly, there is no ban on Vikings, Mongols, Trojans, Zulus, Masai or Aborigines.

It is offensive that school mascots are allowed to display the Euro-centric phenotype, the outward manifestation of one's genetics, but not allowed to display the Native American phenotype.

Portland high schools have plenty of Euro-centric images. The Grant Generals, Roosevelt Roughriders, Franklin Quakers, the Minutemen and the Democrats all bear images of very white men.

Banning any race from inclusion is pure and simple racism.

The board's decision is not race-neutral and therefore subject to strict constitutional scrutiny. I have serious doubts that such a policy could withstand constitutional review. And I have no doubt that Portlandia will have a hilarious episode devoted to this topic.

Mike Wolfe

Summerland, Calif.

Honor Chinook as new mascot

I'll be the first to propose that Scappoose change their mascot from the Indians to the Chinook, as in the salmon (Oregon passes ban on Native American mascots, May 17).

The Chinook's proximity to the Columbia River and their Indian heritage shouldn't be forgotten, and I believe this would be a respectful way to do so.

I envision a stylized salmon fighting a rushing water current with orange, black and white highlights.

Chris Arnesen

Hillsboro

State board has

priorities mixed up

Kerry Eggers' take on the school mascot issue was really informational, factual, tried to expose both or all three sides of the issue, and finished with a very reasonable solution (What's in a nickname?, May 31).

The government has a number of important jobs. The safety of the population it is responsible for is its first and most important task, followed by educating the population it is also responsible for. Most other stuff comes quite a ways behind this.

Eggers also suggested that (the government) was doing what so many political people, groups, etc., do, and that is take care of its own tasks that can be enhanced by adding a few politically correct/incorrect items to them to sell whatever it is as 'important enough' to pass a new law, formulate a new policy or leave something on the books that allows its 'legacy' to linger.

Education in Oregon is in a mess, and the best (the government) can come up with is to force schools to change their mascots? Even if nationally more than 80 percent of the public disagrees and eight of the nine tribes in Oregon didn't side with you, it still continued down the same path.

I believe we have witnessed an 'elitist government group' that sees itself as understanding something much better than the much, much larger population can see.

Great job, Kerry. I think our state Board of Education needs to re-think the whole thing or maybe resign as a group so we can find some people taking on the real plights education in Oregon finds itself.

When close to 50 percent of Oregon's students don't graduate on time, I think that in itself says enough.

Barry Adams

Southwest Portland