Shortly after KCCI-TV Sports Director Andy Garman in Des Moines, Iowa posted a Clarke HS girls' basketball team poster of seven teammates in various Native themed apparel, including headdresses, feathers and face paints, the Twitterverse and the rest of the social media universe roared in disapproval.
As Garman wrote in his post on Facebook: “I'm kind of amazed that this made it from the "idea" stage all the way to actually being printed. I predict that this will not have the reaction that they were hoping for.”
Since being posted yesterday, the image has been shared thousands of times and has nearly 800 comments on Facebook.
Some of the posts are as follows:
Junaluska Montelongo If you wanna play injun we need bodies in North Dakota to fight the Dakota access pipeline. Maybe there you will get the real feeling of how it is to be native American.
Elaine Youngbear I find it extremely funny just how people on this comment section think that I, as a full-blooded Native American from here in Iowa, should be proud of things like this because they are paying respect to a culture/heritage you all really don't have a clue about. I'm pretty used to seeing bs like this and am so over it. Keep telling yourselves that you are paying respect, blah blah blah but if you had done the research or even asked actual living Natives how they feel about females wearing headdresses, you'd know that it is distasteful/disrespectful.
Krystle Tyon My father played basketball in hs just like these ladies. But unlike most players, he was discriminated for being an Indian, not a mascot. He was always treated w racial slurs and warhoops at basketball games wherever he played. Does that happen to you? Cause it's happened to me and my girls when we played ball. The only way you're ever gonna accept your mistake is by imagining being in our shoes. Yeah, great poster, very cliche and catchy. But you're completely missing the point. The issue is the fact that native Americans are not props. We are not mascots.
The Iowa Commission on Native American Affairs told KCCI the school doesn’t understand Native culture and did not appreciate the poster’s message.
“The poster misused symbols representing a Native culture and spirituality in a disrespectful way. This is a young team that probably did not intentionally mean to be disrespectful; they may not realize that portraying a racial minority group in a stereotypical manner is not appropriate,” the commission said.
Ben Shirk, the owner of Shirk Photography, told Deadspin his company was responsible for the idea but the school asked Shirk to come up with a design reflecting the school’s Indian mascot. Shirk said the final poster was “less inflammatory” than previous ideas and did not see anything racist or offensive about the girls’ basketball poster.
“The school mascots are selected by their honor and basically pride that it brings the school,” Shirk said to Deadspin. “If I was a Native American—I feel there was no disrespect intended. It was done to be a unique and fun poster.”
According to KCCI-TV none of the girls depicted are Native American.
Clarke Community Schools Superintendent Steve Seid told KCCI-TV that the poster is in honor of Native American culture.
“Really out of total respect for not just the community, but the entire state in general with a Native American background,” Seid said. “No negativity intended at all. Just respecting a rich culture.”
Though many have stated their offense, a select group of students and residents of the area have voiced support for the poster.
Remington Hutton, a local resident, and recent graduate from a nearby school wrote to ICTMN in a message on Twitter stating, "People have been attacking everyone who supports the poster and claiming it's their 1st amendment right to be offended but aren't taking into account that it's also the teams 1st amendment right to display that poster."
Other posts on Twitter shared support for the poster.
Follow ICTMN’s Arts and Entertainment, Pow Wow’s and Sports Editor Vincent Schilling (Akwesasne Mohawk) on Twitter - @VinceSchilling