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The Showdown over the use of American Indian Logo
09-03-2006, 09:28 PM
Post: #21
I can't speak for other Germans but I'd be more inclined to allot a more simplistic reason to it - the fascination of color cinema and the introduction of high-action thrillers (Western), courtesy of Hollywood.

As to the mascot controversy which shouldn't even be controversy if people and organizations had more common sense and respect than false pride in a mere "cheer leader", I wholeheartedly agree. The same goes for the derogatory and insulting monikers like "Redskin".

As to other names, like Indian, Braves, Warriors, etc. or actual tribal names (should local NAs approve), I leave it up to the various Native American groups to interpret them as racially motivated, genocidal reminders, dehumanizing, degrading and despicable exploitation of Native American culture. Personally, I don't see logos themselves as such if tastefully done, or as the core problem, but the behavior of rivaling fans who themselves take to degrading the names/logos of an opponent during sporting events. How often have faculty, police, security, parents and the media turned a deaf ear and blind eye when effigies were burnt at pre-game rallies, and racial chants and signs dominated events with "Kill the____", "Shoot the____", or Scalp the___" , etc. ? To me those are the real culprits, along with the supporters of stereotypical mascots, not some graphic image on some wall. But, that's just me and I can't speak for what a Native American sees or feels and if they are offended then something needs to be done.

What has caught my curiosity though is the possible extent this movement might take. Excluding major sports teams, most colleges, universities and public high schools have complied voluntarily, yet there are some who are willing to take the controversy to the next level. The same willingness is evident in the "movement" who no longer seems to be as centrally organized though. To help the more defiant along some individual groups are willing to employ tactics that involve issues of seperation of State and Church. Using legal actions proclaiming that certain depicted regalia and clothing articles are sacred and therefore religious in nature, could sure help their cause along but, are they so determined and interested in seeing their culture vanish from all the classrooms altogether under a religious cloud? Looking at their current efforts it doesn't strike me as an attempt to dissimilate themselves completely.
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09-03-2006, 10:18 PM
Post: #22
Reading Phil Deloria
Read Phil Deloria's "Playing Indian" and it is clear that yes while Westerns produced by Hollywood are seen throughout the world, the phenomena of "Playing Indian" was around before the advent of film. And too, the German emigrant Karl May was writing fiction about the frontier in the 1880s. His books were translated into several European languages. And of course, the idea that Indians are a savage race of people was around before May. Why Karl May depicting Indigenous people as a blood thirsty noble race is a question that May scholars have sought to answer. In the last century, the image of Indigenous people as a primordial people were projected around the globe as they remained introjected in the U.S. as technology allowed. So these images, along with so many others, are being captured, mirrored, and reflected in different places around the world. I am suggesting that Playing Indian has allowed Germans to wear a certain kind of mask. And I have seen a few pieces of film art advertising German Westerns to know that you are on to something when it comes to the allure of film, however when we think of the politics of political representation it is not Germans who are offered minor roles in today's Westerns, most of which are now on TV. Sherman Alexie had written a line for his first film about seeing Indians Play Indian on TV that spoke to the reality of American Indians who are having to consume images of Indigenous people, not from the primordial past (though this happens too) but from those moments in which the "West was won". I also would agree that it is the mascot issue which is the most tenacious. And it really is the major league team mascots that are visible every day of the year. I applaud those Universities who have responded to activist claims and have removed the offending mascots.

I'm not sure I understood the last paragraph of your quote. Can you clarify?
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09-04-2006, 10:12 AM
Post: #23
My bad. I related "playing Indian" only to child play in post war Germany and therefore dismissed the the throught of political mask/Holocaust denial because for decades after the war, the latter was not even part of any German history curriculum. Kids, like myself, were generally not made aware of the entire scope of the war until the late 60's - way into the entertainment era, courtesy of Hollywood and German Karl May film versions.

May, by the way, eventhough he is one of the most successful German authors ever, was a fraud most of his life. He never set foot on American soil but once (never made it out of NY supposedly), a decade after he wrote his last Indian/Western book and 30+ years after the last 'Indian" was banished from his land. Reading many of his Winnetou and Old Shatterhand books as a kid, I never interpreted the 'Indians' as blood thirsty savages though. To the contrary actually. The villain was always the white man and the Indians, though highly romanticized and often mystical, always proud and honorable in their cause. I could imagine that his depiction of the Native American led to the German fascination, and the fact that May was from eastern Germany probably a prevalent factor why it was first more common and accepted in that region. Just my guess.

But you are right, "playing Indian" still continues to this day under the guise of "living history encampments". In itself, personally, I see no great insult or harm because many participants went through great lengths in being accurate in their appearance the common visitor or spectator may never see otherwise. Where the buck stops though, and there are many critics even in Germany, is when so-called "esoterics" dabble in sacret rites like dances, sweat lodges and shamanism, or even Pow Wows, for sheer entertainment or fees.

As to my last paragraph: I browsed the mascot controversy a few weeks ago and found a site which talked about a local initiative (Native American is believe) to help along a stubborn public school district in an attempt to force an "Indian" logo change. Statements included an anticipated legal action against the District with strong claims that the image in the school logo included highly sacred/religious symbols (Eagle feathers, bonnet, drums, rattles etc) and that the District was thereby in direct violation the Constitutional Principle of Separation of Church and State. As a mere layman and just someone who is interested in the controversy, I was a bit curious how this (new) approach could impact on the initiative, or Native Americans in general, should it also become a First Amendment issue, hence my question.
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09-09-2006, 01:47 AM
Post: #24
hm, I was thinking of 2cents comment about the embodied chants and so forth performed by sports fans with regards to people performing in Red Face or Red Paint. I love baseball games, and hate the Cleveland Indians logo and all that is attached to it.

I think at the local level, Americans see the protests against mascots as an attack on the "American way" of life. As the comments of mascot supporters suggest. This comes to bare on Whalen's comments about the seperation of Church and State in the fight against mascots on the district level, its an interesting arguement. However, it must also be realized that the critique leveled against Indian Education and the spiritual learning involved in ceremonies and education in many public schools is also one about the seperation. Church and State. There are those who would say that Indigenous elders and teacher and parents and students are violating the Constitution by holding ceremonies at school without any thought to what is being taught and why. So, it is not without a great deal of forethought that we think through Constitutional issues and the stakes involved. When Americans say that the are only innocently protecting an American way of Life or an American tradition or past time, such as it is with the defense of mascots, it seems to be about maintaining a consensus around a set of core values, which are at best a myth, and at worse a violent reprisal opposed to Indigenous protest and action.
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10-05-2006, 11:06 AM
Post: #25
I feel like the dilemma is well discussed. What is the ideal? -- a direction to head in. Even though it may not be that simple actually starting to walk in that direction, I feel it always important to identify it.
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