This week begins with Governor Jerry Brown signing the California Racial Mascots Act. Sold as a nickname ban, some are beginning to realize that it is not a cultural preservative, but more of a purge of cultural references. In a letter written in support of a school district’s use of a Native American mascot, and copied to Governor Brown, Tribal Chairman Neil Peyon pointed out one school “uses its mascot as a sign of pride and honor.” Were this the only give-and-take argument over referencing Native Americans in school, sports clubs, or other nationally accepted organizations, it would be subject for typical op-eds and school debates, but its real purpose is much more sinister than most have even imagined.
The Native American nations include many deserving of great honor and respect. For example, the Iroquois influenced the Founding Fathers in writing our Constitution by the organization of their confederacy, and body of their constitution.
The movement to redact all traces of any references to Native Americans in school, sports clubs, and other public organizations is an old one now. It seemed to begin as a naive Native American activists’ effort to end what was contended to be a host of derogatory reference towards them that were denigrating their heritage.
I say this campaign was naïve because in the instances where terms referencing Native Americans were used, and protested, they celebrated the high ideals cherished by many cultures and ethnicities everywhere. Who thinks it, for example, a debasement to be referred to as brave? Some activists were probably sold on the redacting idea as a means to control their own, and true, narrative. Others may have been persuaded that any mention of Native Americans by anyone others than them was, well, irreverent.
But the claim could never be made that any one Native American nation was singled out for the purpose of ridicule by a school, sports team, or other nationally accepted, until now, organization. The team with the worst record for the season was not annually renamed the Cherokee, or the Pawnee, or the Blackfoot, or the Arapaho, or the Cheyenne.
Nevertheless, the governor of California, along with other governments and districts, are passing laws to expunge any public, and celebrated, reference to Native Americans.
When even many Native American activists are arguing against this expungement, a timely and provocative question arises: Which activists are really behind the ‘expungement’ activists? In search for this answer it may do us well to recognize that there are no Native Americans with rich and honorable cultures in Europe.
The many Native American nations with their cultures and traditions who have influenced and enriched the founding of America are distinctly ‘American’, and references to them that are in celebration and honor point this out. These references help to point out who they are, where they are, and that they are a part of what makes us distinctly America. And it is precisely such strong and individualistic markers and identifiers such as these that must be erased if we are to be homogenized into a one world government.