On January 27, 2013, the national American Indian radio station, Native America Calling, presented a program on the American Indian mascot issue. BadEagle.com presents part of this program for opportunity to make important observations on the otherwise rather hackneyed subject of mascots, and also because of the manner in which Native American Calling handled the topic. Also note that the radio program is funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Annenberg Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. Can we say it has a liberal perspective, if hopefully not necessarily? In fact, this particular program, January 27, with Antonia Gonzales substitute hosting for Tara Gatewood, the program was about as “balanced” as a call-in radio program could be made to be. (Ironically, however, “balanced” in this case means not considering whether there is an actual majority opinion on the issue, and certainly avoiding making such an impression.)
The occasion for the mascot program, of course, was the perpetual protest of Suzan Harjo against the use of “Redskins” by the NFL Washington Redskins football team. Of course, again, the reason for this momentary notice of Harjo’s case was the fact that the Redskins had a winning season, and missed the 2013 Superbowl by one game–their loss to the Seattle Seahawks, 24-14. Harjo’s influence apparently pulled the black mayor of D.C. Vincent Grey into the conversation, apparently hoping the darkest-skinned race would bring victory to her case.
Harjo was teamed up with Bill Means (a brother of the late Russell Means) as guests on Native America Calling. They presented the usual complex of white psychological theory, social theory, Indian theory, about why Indian mascots are bad.
The night before the program, I was called by the producer William Kie and asked to be on the show. I thought I was to be a guest, but I misunderstood. He simply wanted to insure a balanced presentation of the issue, and asked me to call in, as just another caller.
BadEagle.com did not make this YouTube. We are using it, however. Pictured is “Chief Zee,” a self-made mascot of the Washington Redskins, and myself, David Yeagley. I say, anyone and everyone has the right to play Indian, if it means so much to them. What I don’t like is people claiming to be Indian, when they are not.
On this tape, at 36:20, my participation begins. I tried to offer a viable assessment of the truth about what Indians actually think about the issue of mascots, as well a little history about the whole Indian protest movement (AIM), and modern social movements which have joined forces.
Suzan Harjo’s response to me begins at 44:20.
I have to point out, Ms. Harjo presents completely unsubstantiated claims and misinformation on the professional surveys I noted. She claims that there was no assurance that the people interviewed were Indian. She asserts that the surveys were simply conducted over the phone. Thus, she completely undermines and negates the entire Native America Calling radio program itself–which professedly represents the voice of American Indian people–by their making phone calls to the show.
Then she reference one “survey” done by Indian Country Today (2001) as authoritative because it was (presumably) conducted by Indians surveying other Indians. The problem with that survey, which Harjo completely fails to note, is that not only was it not scientific, but it was basically in house, that is, the survey was of “American Indian Opinion Leaders,” a special club status created by and granted exclusively by Indian Country Today. It is online. It was the staff of the paper surveying each other, friends, and supporters. And the total number of persons surveyed was not revealed, nor their status as Indians. Also, no quotes were made of any Indians who were pro-mascot. In other words, whatever Harjo’s objects to the Peter Harris and Annenberg surveys, they apply more directly to the Indian Country Today survey, obviously. For what she condemns the professional surveys, ICT is doubly guilty. Harjo’s quotes of the ICT survey are incorrect as well. She said mascot opponents were in the 90 percentile. They comprised rather 81%.
But, facts don’t matter to emotionalist protesters and racial dramatists. They condemn anyone who disagrees with them as ignorant, uninformed, or prejudiced. “Ignorant” and “uninformed” were terms used many times in the Native America Calling program, used by self-appointed Indian leaders to describe Indians who support the use of Indian images. It is classic Leftist elitism, and in this case, radically obvious.
Of course, Harjo needed to pronounce my comments as “slander.” The historical facts behind the anti-mascot movement were not something she would recognize at all.
The obvious tactic here is that liberal-trained Indians condemn their Indian opponents as ignorant and uninformed.
But the self-appointed, non-elected Indian liberal “leaders” employ the cruelest weapon of all against their Indian opponents. If you don’t agree with them, you’re not Indian. Certainly, this is the word-weapon that has been used against me since 2001, when I entered the fray of Indian politics. Of course, I am currently suing some of the leading aggressors who have used this libelous weapon against me. And when they don’t actually say you’re not Indian (and Harjo never actually said that of me), they use the next best weapon: “you didn’t grow up Indian,” or “you’re not connected to your people.” Therefore, the implication is that you have no right to speak. You’re experience is not “Indian.” This was Harjo’s public, printed approach to me since 2003. (Of course, her thoughts on me are totally forgotten now, since her low-level sarcasm against me is non-retrievable at this point. I do her the kindness of reprinting it from my own site.)
My point here is that a liberal “Indian” is generally content to figuratively kill another Indian who disagrees. If you have no facts, and only emotion, you say, “You’re not Indian.” That is murder, of a very real sort. Of course, the same accusation could rightfully be made of many of these half-breed, mixed-blood, thin-blood, self-appointed liberal “Indian leaders.” And I’m not above making such an accusation myself, on occasion.
This kind of Indian war is something that goes on in Indian country today. It is our finest tradition, in fact. It dates back to our origins. Just ask any Indian what he thinks of Comanches!
My favorite quote about the mascot issue comes from South Dakota Sioux activist Betty Ann Gross (Sisseton-Wahpeton), interviewed by Sports Illustrated (March 4, 2002):
There’s a near total disconnect between Indian activists and the Native American population on this issue.
That says it all, about Indian country.