Natives Must Rally Together to Ban Offensive Mascots

Malcolm Benally

The recent efforts of Council Delegate Joshua Lavar Butler to pass legislation against the use of derogatory mascot names in professional sports is finally an issue that speaks volumes for all other important issues facing the Navajo Nation.

We can finally rally behind and acknowledge the power we have. Council Delegate Jonathan Hale's suggestion to deal with this issue across the board by doing away with all reservation school "derogatory" mascot names altogether is, finally, something we can all agree on. I want to help end the use of derogatory mascots. I have seen how our Navajo Nation leadership wrought havoc on traditional Navajos, almost completely wiping out the identity of the resistors of Diné people who live on Hopi Partitioned Lands.

Instead the grassroots community has been labeled "resistor(s)," "unlawful," "rebels," and "anti-government," where lawyers and Navajo leadership intimidated family members into political slogan corners (usually in the press) when they should be protected by "free, prior, and informed consent."

During football games or public sports events, there are banners and chants: "Skin the Warriors!," "Scalp the Chiefs!," "Utes! Go Back to Your Rez!" For Thanksgiving I saw a flyer advertising bar specials in Tempe, Ariz.: "Party Like A Pilgrim, Get Drunk Like an Indian. $2 beers—You Call It!"

Former Chairman Peter MacDonald recently stated in the Gallup Independent that he is really OK with being called a Reds**n! A paragraph later, Council Delegate Leonard Tsosie said, "Maybe we should recognize that Native people have grown accustomed to this and learned to live with it as we have many other things."

Really? I do not understand these sentiments. I cannot live with it. It's kind of crazy to read Mr. MacDonald and Mr. Tsosie sharing these sentiments. I'm sure Dan Snyder is laughing.

Unsurprisingly, after almost a complete media silence in the local press, the Washington Post features Amanda Lee Blackhorse, a Navajo woman on the front lines in the righteous fight to do away with the Washington mascot. I urge everyone to educate their peers about Amanda Lee Blackhorse vs. NFL Football, a class action lawsuit tailored to do away with the use of Indian mascots forever.

Doing away with the Washington mascot name and use of Indian mascots is not difficult. It just needs Navajo people to educate one another and continue to document a legacy that actually belongs to us, like informing the world and the global community that communities like Big Mountain and HPL communities exist. These are golden opportunities worth treasuring instead of casinos and corporate energy. It is worth it to make it known, we are informed by our culture.

The words of our elders are resounding above the sounds of a sold out NFL stadium. This is what I want to say, personally. Thank you for reading my words.

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100IndigenousAmerican's picture
Yah dah la hey! There are bigger fish to fry then uniting racists with non-political football fans. Again, as I have commented in other articles, it is my opinion that the ultra-sensitive young with highly acculturated ways can only relate being Indians through views are invading my being. We should each have equal access to making noise as to what is unjust and moral. Do not cry out "what my feelings should be", it is excessively invasive. My off springs and I are unaffected directly or indirectly by the name "Redskins". We like the rivalry of names from the imagination. If you get rid of the “Redskin”, the hate will exist with greater subtleties, especially from those that saw the name as ridiculous until you mess with it. Why not attack Indian education using "common core" and assessments that promote perfecting your will to admire the likes of the other races and rewarding you for your willingness to sound like a white because the current direction of education is far more destructive. Our young “educated” loudest Indians admire many "fractionated DNA" Indians as leaders and role models that promote upward mobility without connectivity to ancestors. These fractional breeds calling themselves Indians are perfect “Trojan horses”, and they are more destructive to your brownness and traditional ancestral values than the mascot or name you wish to vanquish. Where is the fight against the injustices of Farmington, Gallup, Flagstaff and Phoenix? How about attacking the USBIE leadership for crimes against the future, USBIE and DODE is full of relics and people that have absolutely no proof of success in education. Start the fight of injustices by helping the elderly and poor. Standing with beads, white clothes, and vitriolic hot air in voice only breeds more hate from the common apolitical European Americans.
tmsyr11's picture
Malcom, do you know what is being done (anything more) to combat the organized navajo project gangs, drugs, and prostitution by local navajo tribal public safety officials and tribal govt. officials? These gangs and supporters intimidate navajo families, and those remaining navajo elders to the point of "buying" them or blackmailing tribal officials to the point where all that is left is prayer and hope. What about those navajo children and young navajos who see this every day? What does this do to you (me) in trying to raise a child free of community initimidations from outside groups. How is a family supposed to trust and established Navajo Govt. if officials are receiving illegal contributions or if these officials look the other way. It quite obvious and no secret to the Navajo community of how high the rock walls for security are surrounding the official Navajo Presidential Home in Window Rock. Yet, all this distraction does is AGAIN give a free pass to the Federal Government on Legitiate American Indian Affairs and grievances and the realities that reservation/tribal people have to contend with. I am sorry but there are more immediate concerns and priorities to address than having the luxury and time to grieve and non-POLITICAL issue that coincidentially belongs to non-Indian Groups and non-Indian Special interests.