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The Pentucket Sachem?

Pentucket Mascot (Modified by G. Albert)

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The Pentucket Sachem has been a beloved mascot of our school since the 1960s, but since then we have been perpetrating a racist stereotype and marginalizing the Native American culture.

Recently called into the spotlight has been the Tomahawk Chop. “Racist names (you wouldn’t use it for another group!)” says Claudia Fox Tree from the Native American Awareness Organization. The chant and movement has been popular at our football games as a means of raising team spirit, but perhaps what we’re raising is oppression. “The big issues with sports images and accompanying chants and movements are the perpetuation of stereotypes in the absence of a range of positive, contemporary First Nations images,” says Fox Tree.  We’re portraying an inaccurate caricature of a real and of an oppressed culture.  And these “caricatures of our people are so grotesquely not what we do in our culture,” continues Fox Tree.

Why do we allow and encourage our school to continue to use this stereotype? If this was any other racial minority would we feel differently?

It’s a common misconception that Native American’s don’t care about us using their visage for our superficial purposes, but Fox Tree explains that many Native American’s do in fact find it very offensive and were “upset by the idea that there were non-Native fans running around in headdresses.” Wearing headdresses and wearing Native dress is an inappropriate thing to do if you are not part of that culture.  That includes wearing our school’s mascot uniform.  Not only are you stealing something of cultural significance, you are misusing it and not giving people of that culture the appropriate credit, recognition, or commissions.

We need to stop using a culture as our sports image.

 

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7 Comments

7 Responses to “The Pentucket Sachem?”

  1. Logan (Sachem) Sherwood on December 3rd, 2013 7:21 pm

    So I understand this article and it is very well written, but I don’t agree completely. I get the racial profiling aspect, I do, but I dont think it’s that big of a deal. Sachems, Idians, Native Americans don’t they all kind of look the same? Sorry if that is ignorant.

    From the sachem himself

    [Reply]

    Mr Repucci Reply:

    Logan,

    You are a very bright guy. I want to think your comments were meant in a joking way. Unfortunately, it does not matter whether you think the portrayal of Native Americans is benign. The fact that the people from that culture see the characterizations as insulting, demeaning and offensive is what matters. Mocking portrayals insult the culture; they do not show respect.

    [Reply]

    Gwen Albert Reply:

    I’m not entirely sure you do understand this article. I quoted an interview I had with a member of the Native American Awareness Organization, where she clearly stated that it IS a big deal. This is what I heard from many people. It’s hard to see oppression when you’re not affected by it, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

    The things I’m saying here are not just my own thoughts, because I’m white I know that I am not a person who is best party to talk about racism, so I made sure to talk to people who are affected by this and spread their word.

    (PS Putting on a costume does not make you the spokesperson for a culture!)

    [Reply]

  2. Daniel Imperioso on December 4th, 2013 6:32 pm

    I do not think that the Pentucket Sachem’s emblem is “racist” in the least bit. This is not going to say that I view Native Americans in a classic stereotypical way but I feel that such political sensitivities should not change a thing that has been used for many years. Should the Washington Redskins change their name as well? This growing “need” for change is slowly desensitizing our country. Afterall, we all derive from a certain ethnic group and offense should not be taken from an image that has more or less represented The Pentucket School District since the start.

    [Reply]

    Gwen Albert Reply:

    Actually, yes, the Washington Redskins SHOULD change their name. During my interview Fox Tree sent me links to more articles I should check out. One of which focused on the topic of “Redskins.” “Native Americans throughout the country consider the term ‘redskin’ a racial, derogatory slur akin to the ‘N-word’ among African Americans or the ‘W-word’ among Latinos,” said Tom Cole, a law maker from Oklahoma who researched more into the subject and interviewed Native American leaders.
    It’s sad that we do live in a society that we’re willing to overlook casual racism. We’re not desensatized by change. In fact through change we are being more sensative to issues. By using an image to promote sports we take away an identity. We erase an entire culture for our own purposes and that’s not an okay thing to do. Our attachment to a name shouldn’t come before real legitimate concerns.

    [Reply]

  3. Molly Hogan on December 5th, 2013 5:42 pm

    Great article! I was wondering why it was such an issue but now I understand!

    [Reply]

  4. Thomas Gallagher on December 5th, 2013 8:21 pm

    *Indians*

    [Reply]

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