Mascots come under fire in Native American lecture

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By Rachel George – Entertainment Editor

UNO celebrated Native American Heritage Month with a lecture titled “If REDSKINS are illegal…why not these mascots?” pointing out the racism of team mascots named after Native Americans, supposedly in their honor.

Professor Ed Zendejas presented the lecture on Nov. 15 in the College of Public Affairs and Community Service Collaborating Commons.

The lecture began with a prayer by Rudi Mitchell from Creighton University. Mitchell first said the prayer in his native Omaha-Ponca language, before repeating the prayer in English.

Zendejas used the Washington Redskins as an example, explaining the case of Susan Harjo v. Pro-Football Inc. to make his point.

In 1992 Harjo filed suit with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel registrations of six trademarks of the Washington Redskins owned by Pro-Football Inc.

“Mascots perpetuate ignorance,” Zendejas said.

In 1999, the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled the Redskins registration.

The Redskins asked for a review of the trial and in 2003, a district court ruled in favor of the Redskins, allowing the Redskins to regain their registration.

“It’s a case over the ownership of our identity in a sense,” Zendejas said.

He displayed illustrations of made-up mascots that could compare to the Washington Redskins, such as Washington Whities and Atlanta Blacks.

If anyone in attendance was not convinced of the racism in mascots such as the Redskins after the string of racist mascots Zendejas displayed, the point was made clear when a quote by L. Frank Baum, author of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, appeared on the screen.

The quote read: “The proud spirit of the original owners of these vast prairies inherited through centuries of fierce and bloody wars for their possession, lingered last in the bosom of Sitting Bull. With his fall the nobility of the Redskin is extinguished, and what few are left are a pack of whining curs who lick the hand that smites them. The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians. Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; better that they die than live the miserable wretches that they are.”

“So I ask you, where is the honor in being called a Redskin?” Zendejas said.

He ended the lecture on that note, allowing a Q-and-A period to follow.

Students in attendance seemed to gain Zendejas’ perspective after the lecture.

“I thought that it was really interesting, and [an] eye opener,” UNO sophomore Shauna Brayman said.

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