Your Views: Indian nicknames indeed negatively stereotype

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Monday, October 28, 2013

When our Green Bay Packers played the Washington Redskins this year I chose not to watch the game. For me the word “redskin” is tainted with a very negative connotation.

In earlier times, bounty hunters were paid for each Native American man, woman or child they killed. The bloodied bodies became known as “redskins.” Ever since I learned the derivation of this word, I've been appalled that a national sports team would continue to use such a racially charged name.

I remember 1999 when Milton High School had a heated and divisive struggle over getting rid of its Redmen nickname. The mascot featured an ugly caricature of a howling Indian brandishing a tomahawk. Those not defined by this mascot didn't think anything was wrong with it. Learning how hurtful it was to some in our community made the decision to change it the right thing to do.

We survived the change to Red Hawks and have gone forward a more united school district.

In 2010 Wisconsin passed SB25, and Gov. Doyle signed it into law giving the Department of Public Instruction authority to order schools to remove Indian mascots and nicknames. It was a major step forward in getting rid of negative stereotyping. Now, sadly, our Legislature is about to enact legislation to make it more difficult to ensure that the culture of all of our citizens is respected.

Though I don't often agree with the opinions of Charles Krauthammer, this time I am in complete accord.



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