Mascots and the games they play

We discuss Nielsen’s latest research findings on Native American Cultural Appropriation. Plus we talk with one reporter who is hitting the Oregon Trail.
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The latest research from Nielsen’s survey that includes cultural appropriation is quite telling of what the American public knows about the impact of Native appropriation in sports and why it’s harmful to Native peoples. Today on the show we have Pawnee citizen Crystal Echo Hawk who is the founder and Executive Director of IllumiNative to talk about the true impact of Native Mascots on Native people. 

Before there was Minecraft and Grand Theft Auto, there was the Oregon Trail. Developed in 1971, the text-based computer game teaches school children about the realities of 19th-century pioneer life on the Oregon Trail. In 1985, the game added graphics. Joining us today is Nez Perce citizen Brian Bull, who was an advisor for the video game. Today, Brian is a reporter with KLCC in Eugene, Oregon.

A slice of our Indigenous world

  • A push to unionize workers at a tribal casino in southern California could have a ripple effect for other tribal casinos. 
  • Native youth are stepping up for the COVID-19 vaccine, Carina Dominguez reports. 
  • The Fourth of July is just weeks away. The decision to Mount Rushmore fireworks rests in a court decision.
  • An Ojibwe scroll from the late 1800s is on its way home. 
  • A unanimous vote by the Alaska Legislature will protect a cemetery in Southeast Alaska. 
  • The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians in California is celebrating a milestone in healthcare.

Find more details on these stories at the top of today's newscast.

Some quotes from today's show.

Crystal Echo Hawk:

"Seeing that 51 percent of Americans still think that using Native mascots is an honor. I was recently talking to Doctor Fryberg about some of these findings and research. It just really goes to show how deeply like embedded this sort of this romanticization of Native peoples in that oftentimes non-Native peoples kind of still looking at these things is that they're honoring and different things. It's really more about them than us and their identity."

"These things make them feel good. And they're sort of less concerned about the harm. I think in looking at this, it is troubling. Because I think Doctor Fryberg, Suzan Harjo, Amanda Blackhorse, thousands of Native activists over time, have really been talking about the harm. And particularly the psychological harm that mascots caused to our children."

"But it just really goes to show that I think we have a lot of work to do ahead of us to continue to educate the American public that despite sort of their love for these things, to really understand that it is harmful to us, but this does fuel racism and bias against our people. And I think when I look at these numbers, it's stunning to see that people think that this is still an honor, but I think that one of the encouraging things that I saw was that more than half the respondents, 53 percent want more education on why these mascots are such an issue."

Brian Bull:

"It was the probably the spring or summer of 1996 and yours truly had not yet gotten firmly established in a broadcast reporting career. And so I was finding lots of odd jobs, usually small short time stints at stations, radio stations, TV across the twin cities. When through my actors network, because I do theater on the side, I came across notice that The Learning Company based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts was putting together the Oregon Trail: third edition."

"And there had been a call-out for a multicultural parts. And so long story short, I signed up and found myself cast as chief Joseph the younger. Which was kind of exciting because he's part of my family lineage, our family tree. And so for a series of shoots, I found myself on a small set in Minneapolis doing what was then revolutionary technology at the time F. M.V., which has full motion video."

"And if you've ever played the Oregon Trail: third edition, it's essentially just where you assume a position, you say your lines and then you resume back to what's called a neutral position. And by today's standards, it's a little stilted and a little odd looking, but back then it was cutting edge. I've heard some really good things about it. I have not purchased an edition yet. But I've talked to some colleagues and friends who have tried out the game. And it sounds like what they've done since I was a consultant, was they've really incorporated more and more of the Native American perspective and viewpoint."

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Mark Trahant, Shoshone-Bannock, is editor of Indian Country Today. On Twitter: @TrahantReports Trahant is based in Phoenix. 

Patty Talahongva, Hopi, is executive producer of Indian Country Today. Follow her on Twitter: @WiteSpider.

Carina Dominguez, Pascua Yaqui, is a correspondent for Indian Country Today. She is based in Phoenix and New York.
Twitter: @Carinad7, Instagram: @CarinaNicole7

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