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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