Reporter's roundtable: Misunderstanding mascots

Patty Talahongva

On the Indian Country Today newscast for Friday August 28th, 2020. Writers Dawson Gipp and Kolby KickingWoman

Patty Talahongva

Indian Country Today

The Republican National Convention is over and now it's the countdown to election day. Racial tensions continue to Mount over police violence and also over racist mascots and images. We have two reporters joining on Indian Country Today's newscast to talk about these stories.

Dawson Gipp is Vice President of the political science club at Fort Lewis college in Durango, Colorado who just wrote his first ever op-ed. Gipp wrote a column called Let's Talk About It: From Mascots to Misunderstandings.

Also on the newscast is Kolby KickingWoman. Kolby is an Indian Country Today reporter from our Washington DC bureau and he's been covering the RNC all week.

A few comments:

Kolby KickingWoman:

“Indian country wasn't as featured as they were last week during the Democratic National Convention. Myron Lizer opened night two on Tuesday with a short taped remark from Shiprock, New Mexico. The party also rolled over the same platform from 2016 which briefly mentions, Native issues and American Indian people. And then they also voted to pass that resolution on Columbus Day seeking to preserve it as a national holiday. And so those are just some of the things that featured Native people over the course of the week.”

“There are a number of groups and caucuses if you will in the Republican National Committee but none specifically for Native Americans.”

“I wouldn't say so much, over the course of the week, they stuck to their law and order spiel. I guess you could say that they've been hammering home about how there's violence and mobs of protesters and looters happening in all these Democrat-run cities across the country. So I wouldn't say anything that was super unexpected, no.”

“At no point though, did you ever hear the words police brutality. A lot of it is law and order. I thought it was very interesting how Joe Biden has often said that the country's in the fight for its soul. And then this week Republicans were saying under a Biden Harris presidency America could cease to exist as we know it. And so it's a very, very stark contrast between the two.”

“And I know a point during his remarks that Vice President Lizer mentioned Lezmond Mitchell. I guess earlier this week Trump did pardon somebody during the week at the convention. So it's kind of interesting that he didn't weigh in on behalf of Lezmond Mitchell and his execution.”

“I looked into it a little bit this morning and I found that next week North Carolina is one of the very first states that are sending out absentee ballots. The following week, I believe it's September 18th Minnesota and South Dakota are allowing in-person, early vote casting. And then there are also a number of states that send out a mail-in ballot to active voters, I believe is the term in their state.”

“There's a lot of push to send your ballot in as early as possible, regarding the president's railing against mail-in voting and fraud that has been disproven..so yeah, it's election season.”

“Not so much from Republicans, but yeah, as you said, there definitely has been criticism from Democrats. There was also a criticism earlier in the week for Trump taking part in the Naturalization Ceremony that took place at the White House. He's definitely walking a fine line.”

Dawson Gipp:

“There is an art gallery that focuses specifically on Native American Indigenous art, and I myself never have been in the shop, so I'm not too familiar with what they actually sell or the authenticity of it. But they have a sign that sort of points at the shop and in the direction. And it used to be a sign that pointed to an old restaurant from, I think in the sixties or the fifties. Then of course the restaurant shut down and that art gallery, they purchased the sign and then used it for advertisement. And it still stands today.”

“One of the main things that I try to focus on when I started writing the paper was the Durango Herald, which is the local paper, they posted a couple of Facebook feeds about the article talking about the petition that was brought up and whatnot. And so I went through and I read most of the comments in a few of the threads, just to see what people were thinking about it and some people had some ridiculous things to say, some people had some really good things to say on both sides of the issue.”

“It's just sort of similar to the statues. People are just saying, it's a part of the history of Durango. And of course, when it comes to these situations, there's only one side of the historical context it's being put into perspective, and they're completely ignoring the other aspect of what that history is.”

“Well, I think it has to do with like even last night at the Republican convention, Trump said something along the lines of, in our ancestors..., what's the word he used? He was talking about the founding and the creation of the country, the founding fathers, the ancestors of America.”

“Moving westward to the uncharted land of the continent and stuff. And, and to me, that's just like that. That's like the narrative that they teach in schools that Indigenous peoples were naked, mindless, savages, and we were just aiming aimlessly, wandering the continent. And that's just not true. In fact, Native people have had such a specific relationship with the United States and European people throughout the entire continent. Very specific things happen with very specific tribes. And that's just not known in America.”

“Well, Sioux is the Ojibwe word from the Anishinaabe people and it means enemy or little snake. That's just sort of what they've called us. And it's kind of, from my knowledge, from what I was told, it just became a thing because of the French Canadians up there would call us that. And that's just kind of what picked up and what people call us. Even where I'm from, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. We're not Sioux, that's what people have called us.”

“We haven't, it just recently came out not too long ago, so we haven't had anything come out quite yet. Especially with the pandemic happening right now. It's sort of hard to get into those situations to actually discuss these kinds of things, but from what I heard from my professors and faculty members, a lot of them really, really enjoyed the piece.”

“The Seminoles in Florida and the Ute in Utah, and UND where I'm from. They all had specific tribal mascots that represented specific tribes, and they were required to ask permission from the tribes. And some of them got permission and some of them didn't. The Fighting Sioux were back in North Dakota. They did not receive it where the Seminoles in Florida and the Utes in Utah received official agreements to have those names.”

Kolby KickingWoman:

“So there hasn't been any news on the mascot front, as it relates to Washington. They are in pretty deep turmoil I guess you could say. The Washington Post has reported another story about just the culture of the team, if you will, and their treatment of women. So it's definitely not a good look on Dan Snyder recently. But as far as I know the team was just going to be the Washington Football Team through this year. The team in Kansas city recently said they fully are banning the wearing of war bonnets and the headdresses in the stadium and are going to prohibit fans from entering with culturally appropriated face paint. They continue to have a dialogue with Native people in their region. It's nice to see these positive steps being taken forward, however small they might be.”

“Yeah. I think it's important to mention also the NHL they didn't play games either yesterday and today, I believe this is a historic moment. This has never really happened in professional sports. And we're going to look back in 10, 20, 30 years from now and be like, one it's a pandemic and two oh I remember when the NBA was in the bubble. These players are trying to give a voice to the voiceless. If you're not going to listen to people in poverty, but you're going to complain about athletes that make millions of dollars and say, you're not going to watch the league. Know that they're trying to shine a light on something that is happening across this country. I think it was important that the Milwaukee Bucks were one of the first teams to not play games being that Kenosha isn't far from the city. They also had a player that was a victim of police brutality, Sterling Brown a couple of years ago. It's important to have these conversations however difficult they may be and it's a historic time.”

Dawson Gipp:

“It seems a little false to me in certain circumstances because the president of the FLC political science club, he actually is a local here in Durango. And he doesn't feel that same nostalgic energy whenever it comes to that. And he thinks it's just a sort of a point to make that, I don't know, it doesn't have any actual, real sustenance to it.”

“What we're trying to do is we're trying to create, specifically within politics, a platform in which we can have civil discussion and be able to talk about things without convoluting things with emotional reactions. To just have a very educated, understanding discussion with the position of trying to learn from other people and not just being like, well this is the way I see it and that's how it is.”

“People could have conversations about politics all the time and that's just how it is. People are like, no, I believe this. And that's the way it is. And you just can't have any real conversation when that's the dynamic.”

Kolby KickingWoman:

“It all started four years ago with Colin Kaepernick taking a knee out of respect. And he consulted Nate Boyer who was a veteran. There's a March on Washington today, along with the anniversary of that. What, a time to be alive, it's just historic truly.”

Also in the newscast, Deputy Managing Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye has the latest positive COVID-19 test numbers in Indian Country.

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