In the Spirit of Brotherhood and our Common Struggles

Created May 24th, 2001

Today's Date:

(The editorial below is also linked here:

In the spirit of Brotherhood and our common struggles,
Donna Smith
(aka "windthruherhair")

26th of July, 1999

To the Editor,

Long, long ago and far away, our self-made mythology tells us that we were a strong
and honorable nation. Greed, arrogance, and a self-righteous attitude were our strengths.
If there was ever such a thing as honor among thieves, then we had honor as well.
Unfortunately, this remains the prevailing posture of this country.

We gaze intently across our borders to find fault with the way other nations treat
their own citizens and our own people who live there. When we learn of the numerous and
endless violations of our laws by our own leaders, we believe we make them stop
because we've closed our eyes and shut our mouths.

As long as we believe it won't get personal with our own families, we'll continue
to sit back and feel smug. We've been lulled to sleep with the promises of security and
the illusion of the "American dream". In the meanwhile, we're poisoned while we eat;
we're raped and robbed while we're wide-awake by the voracious greed of our government
officials and "corporate America".

If there was ever such a working concept in our judicial system of "justice", it was
long ago killed off by those who most loudly proclaimed to protect us We look around
and wonder why our children have no respect for our laws and our neighbors. Our children
look to us for an example, any example of fairness and justice; and seeing none, proceed
to exact their own version.

Our elected officials, those who we elect and pay to represent us, get so caught up in
the power plays and games of keeping up appearances that they forget who they are and what
it is that they're elected to do. With constant badgering and harassment by those whose only
interest is in their own individual financial gain, it's easier to give in than stand their
ground and fight.

The minorities in this country who are the poorest of the poor, the indigenous ones of this
continent who were promised in our country's most honored legal systems to be protected,
have never known the truth of those promises. Their land has been desecrated, stolen, raped,
and all the things they hold sacred continue to be destroyed in the name of greed.

Corporate America doesn't care that the resources of the land cannot be replaced; the voice
of the almighty dollar is all that's seen and heard. Poisonous chemicals enter water sources
that are used for drinking, bathing and cooking. Children are stillborn or born with major
birth defects. Others that must use those same polluted waters are condemned to die slow,
torturous deaths.

Corporate America doesn't care that the native Peoples continue to be killed off in the
"old west" mentality of "the only good indian is a dead indian". As long as the objective
of making obscene amounts of money is met, who cares that generations of Indian men and
women are dying? Who cares that alcohol destroys families and communities? The primary
purpose of Corporate America is to make money; who gets in the way is not part of the picture.

I am not a registered member of any federally recognized indigenous Nation of these american
continents but I do live on the northern continent. I am a member of the human race and must
speak out on behalf of all those who are my relations. Race, religion and gender are not relevant
criteria. The protection of the earth on which we all live is very important to all of us, but
most important to the first "americans". If we continue to destroy the land base upon which
we're all dependent to live, there will be nothing left for our children to live on.

That is my primary focus: what we leave to our children. Without clean air, waters and soil for
the growing of the foods we need to live, what will happen to our children: to their children?
What are our moral priorities? Do the American government and the businesses here have any moral
positions? From our point of view, it appears that they do not. Those of us who can no longer
tolerate the posture of the leaders of our government are speaking out.

Although writing to government officials seems to be an exercise in the art of spitting into the
wind or jousting with windmills, I am none-the-less compelled to try. I am but one small voice of
the many who speak the same words; whose voices now speak only on the whispering winds of time.
It's time for the media in this country to tell our stories; of the on-going situations of the many
Nations inside the United State's borders.

The unjust imprisonment for 24 years of Leonard Peltier is well known in many other countries but is
virtually unheard of by the citizens of the country that illegally holds him in shackles and chains.
Those who control access to our political leaders ignore petitions with hundreds of thousands of
signatures. Those who are in charge of protecting our national security have repeatedly been found
guilty of lies, deception and other immoral and illegal practices. Those who dare to challenge the
authority of the federal Bureau of Investigation are forced to be silent; one way or another.

The sovereignty issues of the Dine, Lakota and other Nations are not dealt with in honorable ways.
Instead, covert methods take precedent. Elders are mistreated, their property is destroyed and their
supporters are harassed and arrested. Why are these Peoples being treated in such vicious ways?
What is the ultimate goal? When is enough, enough?!

On land that was guaranteed to them in treaties, the Oglala have decided to prohibit the sale of
alcohol. They've followed due process and given notice to merchants to cease and desist and even vacate
the premises. As the People the land was given to, it is their right to decide what is or isn't allowed
in their communities.

I don't have any illusions of making an impact with my words but perhaps by adding my voice to the
outcry of others, we will eventually reach the collective conscience of those who are in positions of
helping to right the injustices being perpetrated against all Peoples and the earth. Our preferred
position is one of peaceful protest. We have a common goal and a united voice. Time is on our side.

Sincerely and most respectfully, I look forward to hearing more from those in our government and media
on these sensitive subjects.

Donna Smith

UPDATED! Email Comments to: Donna

Derogatory Names, Mascots, and Related Issues

This is taken from an email to show two sides of the issue. The other person's name
has been removed to protect them. It was a reply to posting my comments about the
USA Today and Tulsa newspaper polls about the mascot issue.)

From: one point of view

Subject: Re: Native American nicknames in high schools

Hi list. We have more serious items to deal with than a name on a
item!!!!!! as long as people see it, they cannot forget!!! take names away, and
it will just let people forget, more easily ..... For me they are a reminder,
of all the native people, that they will never forget who we were and are. To
me it is an honor, for our schools to choose to use our names, they must have
some regard for us, or the young people would not choose, to be represented
by these names!!! My thoughts only. I worry more about taking time to helping
the young and the elderly. What they become is who we will be in the future.
My thoughts only again ..Those who have an opportunity, need to take time and
educate those who choose our name and let them know, just where they derive
from.. I will buy cloths with Cherokee Brand, quicker than any other, and I
tell all, around me why I choose these items....Thank you again for listening,
and again, my thougths only, do not try to tell others what they need to
do. My life is mine only, and what I do with it will, I hope in some small
way help another to be proud of who they are. No offense intented toward
anyone, just my thoughts, I live in an area, that has always been told, that
Native Americans were not me this is an item to work with, the
people on, and educate them in any way we can. and make a difference in some
small way. It is so alarming to me, how some still do not know, we were here
and will always be here in some way.
Love and Light,
[name protected]

(My reply)

Good morning,

Know in advance that I'm not fussing at you or "jumping" you. You wrote that
you don't see the harm in the names/nicknames and...."I worry more about taking
time to helping the young and the elderly. What they become is who we will be
in the future. My thoughts only again ..Those who have an opportunity, need to
take time and educate those who choose an indian name and let them know, just where
they derive from."

This is what I wanted to make a comment about. Also keep in mind these are my
opinions.....take 'em or leave 'em.

Anyway, derogatory names are a hold-over from the days when the mentality was
"the best indian is a dead indian"; and in relation to justifying killing indian
women and children, the saying was "nits make lice". "Redskins" was used when
there was a bounty on indian scalps and it made no difference that the scalp
belonged to a man, woman, or child. I cannot see the "honor" in continuing to
use names that were used at a time when tribal Peoples were being killed unnecessarily.

You say there are better things to be doing, like helping the young and the
elderly and preparing for the future. In my mind, until they're seen as People....
valid in their own existence, traditions, cultures, and languages, there is little hope
to be treated any better. By the use of words that are a holdover from the days
when they were treated worse than mangy dogs, it says to me that native Peoples
are still not seen as equals - not worthy of some small measures of respect.

Without respect, how can we expect the Nations to be treated fairly by the ruling
government of the United States? How can we expect the government to honor their
treaties - their alleged "solemn word of honor"? Without the resources promised,
how can we expect decent housing for tribal Peoples? How can we expect their children
to survive under oppression? In my mind, it's all related to what can expected
for their future and even our own children's future.

Keeping the names of Nations in the public eye, to remind them tribes are still here,
is great! No question about it! But NOT by using names that slur and are holdovers
from the days when their People were like so much poop under the soles of their shoes.
Yes, the general public needs to be educated about the truth of THEIR Peoples and THEIR
histories. Yes, they need to be constantly reminded that they ARE still here. It's LONG
overdue in needing to be told!

However, it's my opinion that if a school chooses to use the name of a Nation, such as
"Sioux" or "Seminole", the Nation 'represented' should be able to have some say in whether or not
it is agreeable to them - as a whole. But this would require involvement of many of those
in the Nation and as we all know, many in the Nations don't want to get involved in political
issues. As long as the issues don't disturb their life, then all is well. This applies
to each and every country and Nation, not just the Nations native to this continent.
No one wants to disturb the comfiness of their life and the life of their families.
There are risks in making waves and some just aren't willing to jeopardize what they have.
(Based on recent history for many indian people: indian schools, reign of terror by various
agencies & departments in the US government, their fear is justified!.)

How can tribes expect to be seen with respect when names such as "redskin" are still out
there......when idiotic mascots like Wahoo are what the general public see? When the
general public's impression of the hollywood indian is perpetuated and validated by
the likes of the mascot, "Chief Illiniwek"? Those are not accurate representations
of any Nation or People. And here, we can use "Sambo" as an example of it not
accurately representing the black communities. Is there a difference between Wahoo
and Sambo? Not in my opinion!

This all blends over into other areas, such as trying to get the general public to
understand why american indian "cemeteries" shouldn't be touched, understanding why they're upset
about cultural and intellectual theft, why their lands need to quit being desecrated
in so many ways, etc. As in all things, without balance, there is no harmony; no
equality. No justice, no peace.

As said earlier, these are my thoughts and opinions. My explanations for why it's
all related and why things won't change until there is balance - respect, honor -
why things won't change until we all get involved in positive ways. And also,
while I sit here this morning typing my thoughts, it doesn't prevent me from
sending a donation to a good cause, from going out later in the day to help
someone in building their house or making repairs on it. It doesn't prevent me
from talking with a child who next asks if I can speak "indian" or wants to know
why indians were always fighting (the white man). It's simply another dimension
to trying to help tell the truth and make things better for the future.

Yes, it can often feel overwhelming and stressful. The prospects of making any
obvious changes any time soon in a major way are slim to none and there's often
the feeling of "what's the point".......BUT, all the little things we do each
day add up. They help form the foundations for the tomorrows that THEIR children
will face.......and eventually, their children will be the elderly in need of help.
How can we justify sitting back and not being involved as much as possible?!
It all comes down to whether or not we believe in what we talk about. Walk the
talk and eventually things will come around full circle. Balance.

I believe.

Thank you for allowing me to share the soapbox.
with respect,

Christine Rose is a strong proponent for the elimination of derogatory mascots
of the indian people. This is her comment regarding the issue, in relpy to the
above opinions.

I feel an overwhelming need to throw my two cents out there although
it was certainly covered very thoroughly by Donna. I always find it strange
when Native people say that keeping the mascots is a way of staying visible.
There is no other group that needs to be visible, all other races go their
own way, live their lives without a fear of disappearing. Obviously this is
because no other race in this country was threatened with extinction. But
by having the only image available to the general public be one that
represents a time when so many people were murdered, all we keep alive is the
image of the Native people having been wiped out.

Its a very hard concept for schools that I work with sometimes to understand
why the images of the mascots are detrimental when they have no Native students
in their school. Perhaps thats because there is no one there that looks like a
mascot. In order for Native people to be appreciated as being alive and well and
functioning on this planet, it is imperative to remove the symbols of
genocide that we call mascots. I know I am taking a stronger stand that I
probably should, obviously we are all entitled to our own beliefs. But the
very ACT of forcing the removal of the mascot says to the general public, we
are here and you will respect us.

I hear so many horror stories that people that want mascots removed live through,
oppression, subliminal and sometimes overt violence that the general public
forces onto Native people because the public has a lot at stake by keeping these
mascots. They control the image of Native people that is portrayed to the world,
they control the use of the image as if they CAN own the image of a group of
people that is not their own. How about that publicity campaign for the American
Indian College Fund, with have you ever seen a real Indian and its a doctor. That's
what we all need more of, there is an image to portray to the world.

Please forgive me if I have offended anyone. Its not my intent. The fact is that
on the reservations or in areas that are heavily populated by Native people, if
done well, can absolutely bring pride. The ultimate goal I guess should be
instilling pride in Native youth in whatever way it is best served.
Sometimes that means removing the image of the Native people from the
disrespectful hands of other races, sometimes it means holding it up with
Christine Rose

(Logo created by Christine and her daughter.)

A list group, started by Christine, to address and inform
others on the issue of mascots.

Racism and the Use of Mascots

Regarding the mascot issue, it's been said that complaining about them (the indian mascots) has only started recently, that's it's a PC thing, that having them (the indian mascots) is honoring the native peoples of this continent, that it keeps them in the public eye, that the mascot doesn't hurt anyone.

To start with, fighting against racism is not a new thing. Women's rights, gay rights, slavery and the fight for civil rights are but just a few of the more recent fights against racism. Women and gay people aren't a race of people like blacks and native people, but the fight for their rights had its share of hardships also.

At the time of those issues, the phrase of "politically correct" hadn't yet been coined but we know for a fact there were plenty of people who felt women, gays, and blacks should be "kept in their place". We also know as a fact that slavery of blacks and women, and the unequal treatment of gays was wrong. It is no less wrong to continue racism against native people.

Although civil right laws were passed, icons that symbolized racism against black people weren't considered illegal. Over time people began to either find themselves the targets of lawsuits for racist caricatures or many others simply knew that such things, if not illegal, were just wrong. The "Aunt Jemima" and "black face" symbols/caricatures (to mention a few) are now not tolerated.

Racism is not a recent issue for the many native Peoples and Nations that are still here. The horrendous crimes committed against all native peoples on this continent are not a thing of the past; it continues today, into this new millenium. The "indian chief wearing a headdress" that many use to "honor" american Indians is akin to the use of "Aunt Jemima". The term "redskin" is the same as the "N" word used derogatorily against black people; the same as "wet back", "spick", etc.; the same as any racist comment aimed at any race of people.

Consider when racist images against blacks were used. Did the "black face" give people a better understanding of the racial issues facing black people? Did it give society a kinder view of black people OR, did it, in fact, perpetuate and encourage negative racial attitudes towards black people? How can it be any different with the racist images of the native people, such as with the �chief in war bonnet�, the cartoonish figure of �Chief Wahoo�, the term �redskin�, or the insulting �tomahawk chop�, just to name a few.

If those things aren�t racist and insulting enough, we also find the use of traditionally Native spiritually related images highly offensive. The use of a �medicine wheel� and eagle feathers when used in play-acting of indian spiritual rituals most offensive.

Would a Christian organization find the use of Christ on a cross in a non-Christian �ceremony� offensive? How about a Jewish symbol used in a non-Jewish ceremony? Artists have used such symbolism in their art and have found themselves attacked by Christian groups. Why is it so different when American Indians say the use of their (many) traditional spiritual icons and rituals have been misappropriated, bastardized and used in ways that are found to be highly offensive?

Proponents for continuing to use racist mascots and offensive American indian symbols use american Indian people to back up the claims that the mascots aren�t racist and the symbols aren�t offensive. So just how many American Indian people have to be targets of hate and racist crimes before it stops? How many more have to die because some don�t find the racist mascots harmful? How many more children have to be insulted and bear the brunt of continuing racist treatment before our society at large sees the harm?

Many of the people who see no harm in indian mascots also claim to be Christian people. Ask yourselves a question about the man you claim to follow: What would Jesus say and do? Would he agree that using a race of people as mascots is okay? Would he say that mascots are an acceptable form of showing �love� and �compassion� to a race of people that have yet to see honor, justice, equality, and truth in the atrocities they�ve suffered in the last 5 centuries leading up to this new millenium?

�If you help the least of my Brothers, then you�ve helped Me���to loosely quote a passage in the bible. For those who claim to follow the teachings of Jesus, and for those of conscience, please take the time now to help do the right thing. Stop perpetuating racist images and the imitation of spiritual rituals that are cultural property of the various Nations and people.

Donna Smith

Return to My Home Page

Reprinted under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law.

Additional Suggested Reading

(More links to be added as I become aware of them. Please feel free send those you feel are appropriate!

The United States Commission on Civil Rights statement on the use of Native American images and nicknames as sports symbols.

National Education Association:
Resolution against the use of prejudicial terms and symbols.

Civil Rights: an overview
A civil right is an enforceable right or privilege, which if interfered with
by another gives rise to an action for injury. Examples of civil rights are
freedom of speech, press, assembly, the right to vote, freedom from involuntary
servitude, and the right to equality in public places. Discrimination occurs
when the civil rights of an individual are denied or interfered with because
of their membership in a particular group or class. Statutes have been enacted
to prevent discrimination based on a persons race
, sex, religion, age, previous
condition of servitude, physical limitation, national origin and in some
instances sexual preference.

"In Name Only", Chief Master Sergeants Group's racial exploitation by the United States Air Force.

(Soon to come: recap of meeting in November of 2001 at Langley Air Force Base,
as per an email sent out April 2002)

Anti-Chief Homepage - Information about eliminating the University of Illinois mascot and general anti-racism resources from Progressive Resource/Action Cooperative.

Changing UTC's Racist Mascot - The story of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's 1996 sports mascot change as told in the local media.

Choosing a Mascot - Article in the Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier about racism in local school mascots.

End Racial Bigotry Now - Essays, personal stories, laws and Indian Educational association statements concerning the effects of stereotyped Indian mascots, including a contact list of schools with those mascots.

In Whose Honor? - An educational video documentary about the use of American Indian, or Native American mascots and nicknames in sports.

Indian Mascots and Logos - Taskforce of the Wisconsin Indian Education Association that seeks innovative legal, educational and political means to eliminate the use of "Indian" mascots, logos and nicknames from all Wisconsin state supported educational facilities.

Mascot Issue AIM - Information about how to organize a movement to change racist mascots from the American Indian Movement, Southern California Chapter.

MASCOTS - racism in schools - State by state list of k-12 schools using racist mascot names.

My Skin is Not Red - Information about racism in sports mascots.

National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media - NCRSM is a coalition of individuals and organizations fighting to eliminate the use of Native American mascots in sports and media. Site offers faqs, links, newsletter, and other information.

National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media - Official website. Advocates against negative representation of all minority status groups. Actions, events, newsletters, board roster, FAQ, links.

Native Views on Disney's Pocahontas - Criticism of the animated film and links to more discussions on exploitation and misinformation.

Redskin - A Hate Word Defined - Why Indian mascots are considered hateful, and the shameful history of the Redskin label.
Please read the entire page and website.
Declaration of War against Exploiters of Lakota Spirituality

This fabulous web site has been removed, probably due to complaints from offenders and threats of lawsuits. It was a great resource and wealth of information:
"Some of these culture vultures have been prosecuted and found guilty of fraud, yet they continue. Listed
below, you will see some links to web pages of people who are using Native American culture and spirituality
for their own personal gain, or those who co-opt or infuse New Age beliefs into Native beliefs or
ceremonies. Make no mistake, while many of these people are whites pretending to be Indians, there are
in fact some bonafide Indians, enrolled ones at that, on this list. One doesn't have to be white to be
abusing Indian spiritual practices. If you sell or MISLEAD and you are in fact Indian, you're just as bad
as the whites or non-Indians who do it! Indian spiritual practices should not ever be sold, nor
should they be misrepresented. And most certainly, a book or the Internet is not a place for such
information to be listed, discussed, posted, etc. If you want to learn about a tribe's spiritual practice,
go to the reservation and ask a real spiritual leader for help."
"KOLA is a grassroots human rights organization that was founded in September 1987 near Red Scaffold,
on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota. In 1990, we opened the international campaign
office in Brussels, Belgium.
Our main objectives are to spread correct information on every issue concerning American & Canadian
First Nation people(s): culture, politics, environment, education, philosophy & religion, judicial matters,
history; and to attempt to better and/or remedy existing situations on and off the American Indian
reservations and communities: food supplies, land & treaty rights, fishing/hunting & gathering rights,
freedom of religion, exploitation of natural resources, anti-defamation, alcohol & drug prevention,
Indian Child Welfare Act, repratriation of artifacts & human remains; and to form a bridge between
people of different cultures.
KOLA is the Lakota word for friend and this word defines exactly who we are and who we would
like to work with. KOLA is a completely independent, non-lucrative organization without political,
religious or any other "color".
"Think also about how it makes it harder for natives and whites to get along when whites have been given an
untrue picture of native culture. We have to learn to get along, and we can't do that as long as whites give
support to operators who push a fraudulent version of what we are like."
"Native beliefs are TRIBAL-SPECIFIC. There is NO generic Indian form of spirituality. There are as
many differences from tribe-to-tribe as there are between Hinduism and the Church of England. No one
would think of teaching those two as the same and calling them Indo-European, yet many of these
FRAUDULENT operators teach a thrown together mishmash of bits and pieces of different beliefs.
"TRADITIONAL elders are very cautious about changing rituals and mixing different customs, it does happen,
of course, but only after lengthy discussions that can take decades. These FRAUDULENT operators are very
casual and haphazard in what they do, in a manner that shows they have no understanding of or respect for the
sacred. "TRADITIONAL elders DO NOT believe that any ceremony can be done by anyone who feels like it. Its that
same caution and respect for the sacred."
Techniques for Evaluating American Indian Web Sites
"Are sacred objects, ways, knowledge, or other forms of Native spirituality being offered for sale?
"It is ethically wrong, and in some cases illegal, to sell Native spirituality, either by Native or
non-Native people. Unfortunately this is big business on and off the Web, and a site that does this exploits
American Indian peoples. Native or non-Native persons may also "peddle" Native spirituality for free, but
the payback to them is self-aggrandizement, to make themselves appear more "Indian", to gather followers,
to pretend they have something others don't, to gain power in some way. This is wrong, and sometimes
dangerous. Injuries and death have occurred to some of those seeking an "authentic Indian spiritual
experience" from unscrupulous people. Protect yourself and protect Native spirituality. Don't buy it with
money or with the "worship" for someone who is exploiting spirituality to gain power in some way."

News From Indian Country

Indian Country Today

NativeWeb News Digest The Navajo Times

Native American Public Telecommunications

Sho-Ban News

Native American Times, formerly Oklahoma Indian Times

National Native News

Native Voice Communications

Native News Online

Questions? Comments? Send them to me at: Comments

Sign My Guestbook Get your own FREE Guestbook from 
htmlGEAR View My Guestbook

FastCounter by bCentral

This counter provided by: