“I think with every mascot name change from objectifying Natives or indigenous people is a win. We have made a dent but it is only that, a dent.” – Linda Sacks, vice president of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma
Panelists speak on mascot concerns
TAHLEQUAH, Oklahoma — To a standing room only crowd at Northeastern State University’s historic Seminary Hall, a group of panelists spoke Sept. 26 about a subject that most of the country except Native Americans turned their heads to: the Indian mascot.
Dr. Farina King (Navajo), assistant professor of history at NSU spoke about the history of sport teams with mascots. The issue with Native mascots has always been around but only came into the public eye not too long ago.
“The issue has only been recently coming to the surface,” King said. “The mascot issue is everyone’s issue.”
The panel originated from concern dealing with memorabilia and clothing of NSU’s former mascot, Redman being sold at the homecoming football game that week.
It was brought up in a faculty council meeting at the campus.
“One of the panelists brought it up at the meeting,” King said. “I asked the officials if there have been more discussion and public forums on the issue of mascots.”
King spoke with other faculty members around the campus that wanted the forum because of the numerous angles this subject holds.
“There are voices, issues, sovereignty, capitalism and money are to name a few,” King said. “Those were some of the angles brought up from the mascots, but only snippets of them.”
Vice president of the American Indian Chamber of Commerce of Oklahoma, Linda Sacks (Cherokee) was in attendance.
She was happy to see that it was a packed event and there were people that want to know more on the mascot issue.
“There were some valid points that were made and most important, it is a subject that needs to be spoken about on college campuses,” Sacks said.
She said it was the perfect setting to have a discussion where the college once had a mascot changed because of Native American ties.
King hopes to have more discussions like this one in the future, not only on the NSU campus but other areas also.
“We want more of these forums so everyone can get a better understanding of the concerns that we have,” King said.
Sacks said she knows there is a long way to go before the issue is completely taken care of, but feels that a dent has been made with colleges changing their names from Native American mascots.
“I think with every mascot name change from objectifying Natives or indigenous people is a win,” Sacks said. “We have made a dent but it is only that, a dent.”
King and Sacks along with other Native Americans understand the issue is far from over but hope there is going to be change with the Native American mascots and more education for people on this issue.