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An open letter to Radiohead, from an American Settler

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Thom, I was incensed by your triggered statement in Rolling Stone.  (I say triggered because you did seem very agitated.  I always find that when I am indignant about a certain issue, especially if I’m called out as being obtuse around a sensitive subject such as racism, it is usually because I am protecting myself from a truth that I don’t want to see.  But that’s me.)  Anyway, I’ve been twitter trolling you for months.  Because, you see, from my perspective, as a settler in a colonized land that was taken by force, you chose the side of genocide.

I am a European American middle class cisgender heterosexual woman.  My ancestors are from Scotland, Ireland, England, Germany and Denmark.  I want to share with you how I understand White American culture to be devastated by a 500 year old genocide against Indigenous Americans, which, in turn has become devastating to pretty much the rest of the world.  This genocide, of course, was carried out by my ancestors.  

I see a terrible sickness in White Americans that comes from burying a forgotten genocide at the bottom of our psyches.  It violently erupts from within us.  Our boys and men act out repressed genocidal tendencies with mass-shootings.  (Killing Indians used to be a coming-of-age rite for young men, you know.)  Or the 53% of our women who chose a RAPIST as president, the ultimate act of self-hatred, to keep brown people outside our borders.  And this sick fascination with guns, which is absolutely connected with the fear of others taking what we have taken.  Our taking-without-asking policies have metastasized into a state of perpetual war.  MILLIONS are now dead because of it.

At home we teach our children that Indigenous Peoples are mystical and instinct. We dress them up in Indian costume.  Our favorite holiday, one that celebrates togetherness and family and warmth, all the best of American Values, also commemorates the massacre of 700 Pequot People.  It’s a mind fuck!  Every time that feeling of guilt comes up, we just push it back down again. “I am not responsible for the actions of my ancestors” has become our default saying.  

We have formed this irrational fear of black and brown bodies because we carry such an unconscious, heavy shame about what our ancestors have done.  We have turned ourselves into the victim!  We torture millions of people in prisons and carry out executions to provide an illusion of our safety.  We villainize, dehumanize, and assassinate black and brown people in the streets rather than face the truth that we occupy stolen land. 

This is what 500 years of genocide has done.  And Israel is only 71 years in.  I hope you understand this.  Thom, you said you did, in your Rolling Stone statement.  But you never gave us any evidence.  

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By playing in Israel, you chose side of Israeli fascism.  They used you as State propaganda, for crying out loud!  (The irony here, is that you are the band that created Ok Computer and Hail to the Thief, both of which I have always felt are the antithesis to State propaganda.)   

By playing in Israel, you chose the side of genocide of the Palestinian People.  When Noam Chomsky warned, “The road ahead is not toward South Africa (apartheid), as commonly alleged, but toward something much worse”, he meant genocide.  

This is my perspective looking in as a settler from an occupied land.  History, however, will determine where the lines are drawn.  Some of us only dream of a platform as influential as the one you floundered, so that the world might somehow be able to stop this fate.

Listen, I have loved you for 21 years.  I have let you in to influence me, to stimulate and sooth me.  You have helped to open my mind to understand the U.S. as an imperialist, murderous, war dependent, tyranny that thrives on my fear and ignorance.  You have helped me to notice the undercurrent, the unconscious, both within the system and within me, so that I am able to navigate in this world in a more conscious way.  It is because you have helped me along my path towards truth, that I feel it is my business and responsibility to reflect all of this back to you.  

Please, apologize to the Palestinian People for your ignorance, and use your position for their liberation.  It’s not too late.  And please seek out the works of Charlene Teeters, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, Winona LaDuke and other Indigenous folk for understandings on the effects of inter-generational trauma from genocide and cultural extinction, and the continued state sanctioned violence carried out against Indigenous American communities today.

Onward and upward,

Molly Batchelder

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Committee to Recommend Removal of Indian Mascot at Napa High School

Angel Heart

SSPRIT Secretary & Public Relations Officer

On October 21, 2015, Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSPRIT), addressed Napa Valley Unified School District (NVUSD) requesting the removal of the Indian Mascot at Napa High School. In response NVUSD Superintendent, Patrick Sweeney announced the district would create a task force made up of people with different perspectives.  The task force or mascot committee, is comprised of Napa High School Alumni, NVUSD staff, administrators, student leaders, local Native American advocates and SSPRIT.  For several months the committee has deliberated the appropriateness of the Indian Mascot and will be recommending the mascots removal. The committee recommendation will be shared with the NVUSD’s Board of Education during the districts monthly board meeting.

SSPRIT has successfully advocated for removals of Native American Mascots in public schools and has provided continuing education for students and professional development for educators in districts undergoing Native American mascot transitions. Advised by SSPRIT in February of 2014, Vallejo City Unified School District voted unanimously to remove the Apache mascot at Vallejo High School; consequently removing the Chieftans mascot at Solano Middle School. In February of 2015, John Swett Unified School District (JSUSD) in Crockett, CA, removed the Indian mascot at John Swett High School under advisement from SSPRIT.

In November of 2014, SSPRIT joined the National Campaign to remove Native American mascots in professional sports & media; participating in a protest at Levi Stadium when the San Francisco 49ers played against The Washington Team. In response to the National Campaign, several prominent National media outlets said they would refuse to refer to the team by the epithet it uses for a mascot. The State of California has been applauded for the passage of landmark legislation regarding Native American mascots in public schools. The California Racial Mascots Act – AB30, prohibits public schools from using the term R-dskins as a school mascot or nickname. AB-30 passed in September of 2015. The use of racially derogatory or discriminatory mascots in California public schools is anti-ethical to the California school mission of providing an equal education to all.

Napa Valley Unified School District has an opportunity to take responsible action regarding the district’s policy language against anti-bullying and discrimination. Athletic team names, mascots, and nicknames including school teams, are discriminatory in singling out the Native American community for the derision to which these mascots are often subjected; contributing to the marginalization of First Nations Peoples. Support the removal of the Indian Mascot at Napa High School! Join SSPRIT on April 6, 2017 for the announcement of The Mascot Committee recommendation and for the subsequent vote by NVUSD Board of Education on Thursday, April 20, 2017 @ 7 pm.

The Longest Walk 5.2 Arrives in Vallejo

Angel Heart
SSPRIT Secretary & Public Relations Officer 

The Longest Walk 5.2 arrives for ceremony at Sacred Site Sogorea Te located in Vallejo, CA; one of many Native American sacred sites that will be visited during the walk. “This spiritual walk and run is dedicated to calling an end to drug abuse and domestic violence which greatly effects masses of all peoples on this continent. Longest Walks are held to bring attention to issues that directly affect Native Americans; this year, we will embark on the second leg of the Longest Walk 5 or The Longest Walk 5.2, which encompasses the middle part of the United States,” stated Bobby Wallace, National Chief of The Longest Walk 5. The Longest Walk 5.2 begins in San Francisco, Ca and will be traveling to Standing Rock, North Dakota; continuing to Washington DC.

Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSPRIT), Founding Executive Director, Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo (Mewuk), will be taking part in the Longest Walk 5.2. For many years Wounded Knee has advocated for the protection of sacred site Sogorea Te, located in the Glen Cove area of Vallejo. A spiritual occupation of the Native American Sacred Burial Site lasted 109 days, beginning in April of 2011 and ending in August of 2011. At the time of the spiritual occupation, Wounded Knee stated, “It’s time for Indigenous peoples across this country to take a stand and say ‘no more’ to desecrating the sacred sites of our ancestors,” “No more digging up our ancestors and putting them in garbage cans and in garbage bags. “No more digging up our ancestors and putting them in museums and leaving them in cardboard boxes and gym lockers, taking their artifacts and their sacred objects.” “UC Berkeley has 13,000 remains stored in boxes; some of these remains came from Sogorea Te.” The spiritual occupation of Sogorea Te ended with a cultural easement; a landmark decision that had never been done within city limits or with a park district within a city.

Along with desecration of their sacred sites, Native American populations continue to disproportionately suffer from social and health disparities, having great impacts on livelihood and future generations. Historically, Native Americans have persistently experienced trauma due to US policies of genocide, assimilation and colonialism resulting in historical trauma. Due to the harsh effects of historical trauma, Native American populations across the country continue to fight the repercussions of these acts. National research has shown that childhood trauma is an underlying cause of many disparities including; substance abuse, domestic violence, diabetes, heart disease and death. Trauma prevention, trauma care and the repercussions of trauma must be addressed at community and systematic levels. Statistics consistently show that social, economic and health disparities continue to exist in every tribal community across the Nation and must not be ignored. Tribal communities remain strong and resilient in many other ways such as upholding the tribal values, traditions, language and ceremonies which are still prevalent today. The role of these strengths must be fully understood and valued. Cultural and systematic solutions should be woven together to meet many national disparities among tribal nations.

The First Longest Walk was organized in 1978 to bring attention to 11 bills pending in U.S. Congress. The Native Americans Equal Opportunity Act would have eliminated all treaties between the U.S. government and tribal nations and was an attempt to reverse the course of federal Indian policy. It called for the abrogation of all treaties. However, the bill did not pass, largely due to the attention brought by the walk from California to Washington D.C. The Longest Walk 2, “All Life is Sacred” was organized in 2008 to protect sacred sites on tribal land throughout Indian country. The Longest Walk 3, “Reversing Diabetes” was organized in 2011 to address the diabetes epidemic throughout Indian country. Native Americans suffer the highest rates of diabetes, followed by African Americans. The Longest Walk 4 was a reverse walk held in 2014. It began in Washington, D.C., and ended on Alcatraz Island. The purpose of the Longest Walk 4 was to educate Americans about the history of the many tribal removals of First Nations Peoples from their homelands due to government policy. The Longest Walk 5 covered 3,600 miles, and traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, before ending in Washington, D.C. on July 15, 2016. Phase 2 of The Longest Walk or The Longest Walk 5.2, begins in San Francisco on Sunday, February 12, 2017 and ends in Washington D.C. on July 15, 2017.

SSPRIT invites the public to join us as we gather to welcome The Longest Walkers of The Longest Walk 5.2 at Sogorea Te for ceremony; offering prayers to the ancestors buried at the sacred site. Dennis Banks, Co-Founder of The American Indian Movement, Bobby Wallace, National – Chief of The Longest Walk 5, Karkin Chochenyo Ohlone Woman Corrina Gould and Norman “Wounded Knee” DeOcampo will be in attendance. Wounded Knee is the only person who will have participated in all five Longest Walks. This event takes place on Monday, February 13, 2017 at Noon.

 

Change the Name, Change the Mascot

Kim DeOcampo, Tuolumne Mewuk, Houma-Choctaw Nations

SSPRIT Executive Director

 

In response to the Napa Valley Register opinion piece, “Indian name is not racist” (Jan. 6).

The author makes the claim the word “Indian” is not racist. The issue here is not the word Indian, it is the continuance of American Indians being used as mascots and the stereotypical images and behaviors that insult us.

The word Indians, Redskins, Warriors, Braves or Chiefs that use our images as mascots disrespect our culture and make a mockery of our headdresses, our regalia and our dances. These things are sacred to us. Indian Mascots treat our history with contempt when a high school football team holds up a banner during a football game saying “Indians go home in a Trail of Tears.” This public school just ridiculed one of the most vicious atrocities in U.S. history.

The privilege of controlling our history, our image, makes the public schools no better than the forced boarding schools of native children that attempted to destroy our culture.

Is this what we want to teach in our public schools – that it is acceptable to have domination over another people’s cultural heritage? This long-standing use of native people as mascots force our native youth to see themselves as tokens with no value. Such practices have become so institutionalized that it becomes difficult to recognize this racism for what it is, and by tolerating these demeaning stereotypes in our schools, we desensitize generations of children.

 I do not know of any native people or native organizations that use the word “Indian” define the word as racist, even though historically we are well aware the word is a misnomer, mistakenly put upon us by Columbus when he was “discovered” lost on our continent.

Indian mascots do nothing to teach the complexity of our history, nor do they connect with the ongoing injustices we face today. In protecting and preserving our religious freedom, sacred sites, ancient burial grounds, land and water rights. With the current situation happening in North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is being threatened by hyper-militarized police violence and brutality simply for protecting their right to clean water, how can anyone in this day and age think that Indian mascots “honor” us?

 

It is time to end this “tradition;” our youth deserve much better. Let us all demand better and say no to institutional injustice and inhumane symbolism. Change the name, change the mascot.

 

 

Remove the Indian Mascot at Napa High School…

Angel Heart

SSPRIT Secretary & Public Relations Officer

For several decades, Native Americans have stated they do not feel honored by Indian mascots; this includes a national campaign to remove Indian mascots, images, and stereotypes in media, sports and schools. There are approximately 185 schools in California that have Native American Mascots; the most prevalent being warriors and the second being Indians.

Rather than honoring First Nations Peoples, these images perpetuate stereotypes, promote cultural appropriation and keep Native Americans as a people of the past; this negates the contemporary relevance of First Nations Peoples. The use of racially derogatory or discriminatory mascots, or nicknames in California public schools is anti-ethical to the California school mission of providing an equal education to all.  Athletic team names, mascots, and nicknames that have been used and remain in use by other teams, including school teams, are discriminatory in singling out the Native American community for the derision to which mascots or nicknames are often subjected.

The (National) Native American Mascot debate dates back to 1968. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) launched a campaign to address stereotypes of Native Peoples in popular culture and media, as well as in sports. Furthermore, The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights states, “Many individuals and organizations interested and experienced in human relations, including the United States Commission on Civil Rights, have concluded that the use of Native American images and names in school sports is a barrier to equality and understanding, and that all residents of the United States would benefit from the discontinuance of their use.”

Over the last fifty years, hundreds of tribal nations, national and regional tribal organizations, civil rights organizations, school boards, sports teams, sports & media personalities, and individuals have called for the end to harmful “Indian” mascots.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states: 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information. 2. States shall take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society.

Also, Article 26 – Paragraph 2 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality, and to the strengthening of respect for human rights, and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”

Mascots are derisive/meant to be ridiculed; Napa Valley Unified School Districts policy language regarding anti-bullying and discrimination supports the removal of the Napa High School Indian Mascot; Maintaining respect of different cultural values, attitudes, fairness and dignity, demonstrating respect for human rights and non-discrimination.

The Longest Walk 5.2 “Calling an End to Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence”

Angel Heart

SSPRIT Secretary & Public Relations Officer 

January 12, 2017

The National Field Office of The American Indian Movement proudly announces, The Longest Walk 5.2, “Calling an End to Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence.” Dennis Banks, National Field Director and Co-Founder of The American Indian Movement issued a three phase – 3 year walk across America in 2016.  Dennis Banks stated, “Because of the extremely high rate of abuse, suicides, drug related deaths and destruction, which is at a pandemic stage, our mission is to cross this continent on foot; seeking cultural and spiritual solutions to end drug abuse and domestic violence.”

Dennis Banks, Nowa Cumig, is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Anishinaabe Peoples. Dennis has played a historical role as the co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), community leader and activist for over 50 years. In 1978, he assisted in organizing the first Longest Walk, “Trail of Broken Treaties”. Tribal Nations gathered and marched from San Francisco to Washington DC with the purpose of bringing awareness to the unjust and un-lawful actions taking place against Native American Peoples across the Nation. Dennis Banks and many Native American Community Leaders have spent their lifetime organizing, changing and bringing awareness to specific issues effecting the vitality and longevity of Tribal Nations.

The Longest Walk 2, 3 and 4 were held from 2008 to 2014. The Longest Walk 5, 2016, covered 3,600 miles, and traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, before ending in Washington, DC. Phase 2 of the Longest Walk 5, also known as The Longest Walk 5.2 will begin in San Francisco, CA and will be arriving in Washington DC on July 15th, 2017.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Bobby Wallace, National Chief of The Longest Walk 5, and he stated “This spiritual walk and run is dedicated to calling an end to drug abuse and domestic violence which greatly effects masses of all peoples on this continent. Longest Walks are held to bring attention to issues that directly affect Native Americans; this year, we will embark on the second leg of the Longest Walk 5 or The Longest Walk 5.2, which encompasses the middle part of the United States. The Longest Walk 5.2 will begin at 9 am on Sunday, February 12, 2017 next to The Warming Hut Café’ located at 983 Marin Drive, San Francisco, CA 94129. The Longest Walk will be traveling to Standing Rock, North Dakota; continuing to Washington D.C.

Native American populations continue to disproportionately suffer from social and health disparities, having great impacts on livelihood and future generations. Historically, Native Americans have persistently experienced trauma due to US policies of genocide, assimilation and colonialism resulting in historical trauma.

Due to the harsh effects of historical trauma, Native American populations across the country continue to fight the repercussions of these acts. National research has shown that childhood trauma is an underlying cause of many disparities including; substance abuse, domestic violence, diabetes, heart disease and death. Trauma prevention, trauma care and the repercussions of trauma must be addressed at community and systematic levels. Statistics consistently show that social, economic and health disparities continue to exist in every tribal community across the Nation and must not be ignored. Tribal communities remain strong and resilient in many other ways such as upholding the tribal values, traditions, language and ceremonies which are still prevalent today. The role of these strengths must be fully understood and valued. Cultural and systematic solutions should be woven together to meet many national disparities among tribal nations.

“We have approximately 30 dedicated walkers, 5-10 full time runners, and many people who will be joining in as we reach communities along the way. The Longest Walk 5.2 will have 8-10 Leaders, a full time cook, 3 trucks, 2 cars as support vehicles and a storage trailer for necessary supplies. This walk will take 165 days to complete covering approximately 3,946 miles. Your support is greatly appreciated!” – Bobby Wallace.

To learn more about The Longest Walk 5.2, please visit: http://www.longestwalk.us

 

AIM North West Ex. Director, Dr. T. Thunder Child, Addresses JSUSD Education Board

Dr. T. Thunder Child American Indian Movement (AIM) North West- Executive Director

To: Board of Directors JSUSD

Re: Native American Indian pejorative mascot.

Hello my name is Dr. T Thunder Child Ph. D. I am an enrolled member of the Chumash Nation I am Hunkpapa Lakota and Chumash by blood. I grew up in Western Contra Costa County and received my bachelors and my masters from SFSU. I am long time resident of the area. I am writing this letter in the capacity of- Executive Director of American Indian Movement North West. AIM North West stands firmly with Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSPRIT) on the mascot issue. It has recently been brought to my attention that John Swett School District Board of Directors who had previously in a unanimous voice acknowledged the removal of the mascot- which pejoratively depicts Native Americans-it a has also unfortunately been brought to my attention that the board decided back peddle on this very historic and important decision. We applauded your conscious move forward in removing the hyper racialized Native American stereotyped mascot from your school banner. In kind i astonished by your decision to revert to an even older mascot name-“The Warriors”. This name change is akin to changing the name from “the negros” to “spear chucker”, which we could all agree is no change at all.


While these names- demoralizing Africans in America are extremely offensive. And, no one would ever even consider “honoring” our African American relatives by naming schools after them in this way –it is some how extremely acceptable to employ historically weighted phrases and iconography depicting Native American Indians in that same dehumanizing light. This practice of dehumanizing Native American Indians needs to come to an end. It is antiquated and beneath the values of our democracy. We could all agree- that these phrases and iconographies our unacceptable to the moral fiber of our country. A country whose constitution ensures that “all men are created equal” these dehumanizing caricatures symbolically construct Native American Indians in antithetical terms. We can also all agree that our civility and humanity should be held to a higher standard. In forming our “more perfect union”- that higher standard ought to as a -foundation of our civility -of our humanity- ensure empathy perception and innerstanding towards our countrymen. These words and iconography exercise non of that- they are offensive- hurtful and demeaning. It was for this reason that Assembly Bill 30 (AB 30) the California Racial Mascots Act prohibiting public schools from using these terms as a school or athletic team name; mascot, or nickname was introduced and passed. The spirit of the bill is to institutionalize this higher standard so as to ensue equitable representation of all Peoples.


California is the state with the largest Native American Indian population in the country. This practice of institutionalized racism within our schools should not be allowed to continue. It’s time for John Swett to do the right thing and out right end this practice.

Thank you very much for your time I know you will do the only conscionable thing –giving a proper name that will rightly honor your prestigious school.

In Spirit,
Dr. T Thunder Child Ex. Director
AIM North West

Indian People Organizing for Change Demands the Removal of High School Mascot


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Photo credit: http://www.datacenter.org/?attachment_id=8542Native American organization; Indian People Organizing for Change (IPOC), Co-Founder and Lead Organizer , Corrina Gould demands the removal of the warrior mascot at John Swett High school in Crockett, CA.  IPOC is an organization that educates the public on issues affecting First Nations Peoples. IPOC promotes awareness and educates the public about the desecration of Native American sacred sites, and Shellmound desecration in the greater Bay Area.

 

Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSPRIT) advocated for the removal of the Indian mascot, addressing John Swett Unified School District (JSUSD) in February of 2014. IPOC supported SSPRIT’s advocacy, providing a statement for the JSUSD Board of Education (BOE).

In her correspondence to JSUSD BOE, IPOC, Co-Founder Corrina Gould stated, “Our people have heard many of the excuses of why naming a team after a race of people is supposed to be in some way honoring them.  Our people decided that this is not a way of celebrating who we are, but rather it continues the devastation of dehumanizing us; a continued cultural genocide. School districts should strive to teach its students the real history of the space they now occupy on Ohlone territory”.

On February 11, 2015, one year after SSPRIT’s advocacy began, JSUSD BOE voted unanimously to remove the Indian mascot. JSUSD BOE, and SSPRIT agreed, the Indian mascot removal could provide a teachable moment. The district approved a SSPRIT mascot discourse for students. SSPRIT facilitated the discourse at John Swett High School; all students, grades 9-12. The discourse addressed cultural relevancy & appropriate mascot replacements. At this time, the warrior was a popular mascot replacement choice within the JSUSD community; including, several, but not all JSUSD BOE members, students, parents, and alumni. SSPRIT advised the board that Warrior mascots often portray images of violence, weapons of violence, and that warrior mascots are most often depicted as Native American. There are 85 schools in California that use Warrior as their mascot; each is depicted as Native American. Prior to the mascot discourse, JSUSD BOE created a Resolution forbidding the use of violent imagery, and forms of violence in connection to their schools.

Despite JSUSD’s Resolution, and despite the Native American Cultural Educational Consulting provided by SSPRIT, On February 15, 2016, JSUSD BOE voted to replace the Indian Mascot with Warrior. In response to JSUSD’s decision, IPOC, Lead Organizer, Corrina Gould states, “I am disappointed that in this time of great change, the work that has been put into working together as different communities, to educate one another, to see different perspectives; to honor one another with respect; has been cast aside. I am demanding that the school board reassess their decision to change the mascot name to warriors. I am asking that this Board do what is ethically, and morally right, to be the leaders that our children can look up to, to make the right decision, and to retract the last vote”. SSPRIT will be addressing the JSUSD Warrior Mascot at the districts next school board meeting on Wednesday, March 9, 2016.

To see Corrina’s letter in its entirety, please visit:

https://www.facebook.com/save.sacredsites.1/posts/1679065752374182

For More Information, please visit the following links:

http://ipocshellmoundwalk.homestead.com/

 

John Swett Unified School District, “Our Children are Warriors”

Molly Batchelder – SSPRIT Ally

 

On February 11, 2015, Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes (SSPRIT), a Vallejo based organization, advocated in partnership with The Carquinez Coalition to Change the Mascot (CCCM) to remove the Indian mascot at John Swett High School located in Crockett, CA. After a unanimous vote, John Swett Unified School District (JSUSD) removed the nearly 90 year old mascot. On February 10, 2016, John Swett Unified School District replaced the Indian mascot with Warrior. Why has JSUSD, Board of Education decided to choose Warriors as a replacement after the removal of an Indian Mascot? Why is JSUSD subjecting young people to images, and ideas that promote, and support war, and violence in school?

As a United States Army Veteran (Desert Shield/Desert Storm), trained in methods of war, I am disappointed that an institution of education would promote violence in connection with their schools. Personally, I would never want my daughter or grandchildren to glorify the horrors of violence, mutilation, and death promoted by war through a school mascot (or by any other means for that matter). The root of the word Warrior is “War”. A Warrior is someone who is engaged in conflict carried on by force of arms. War is a state, or period of armed hostility. War is active military operations, and is a method, or principle of waging armed conflict. War is the soldier’s business, and involves being active in hostility, contention, and conflict. Weapons training, and tactical defense training are not to be taken lightly, as they are used for killing during war. Why then would JSUSD feel a mascot associated with violence is acceptable? Young people are especially vulnerable to the effects of exposure to violence. Young people are subjected to violence, and violent imagery in the home, the community, the media, and in schools. Whether the violence is real, based on real events, or fictional; the effects on youth include reduced sensitivity toward others, being more fearful, and behaving more aggressively. Some school districts across the United States have resolutions forbidding violent imagery in connection to their schools. Ironically, the JSUSD Board’s resolution forbidding violent imagery within the school district, recognizes the ways that violence negatively impa
cts youth; yet the school board contradicted their own resolution when electing warriors as a mascot.

JSUSD Board Member, Deborah Brandon has publicly defended the warrior mascot stating, “Our children are warriors. Anyone can be a warrior”. These statements were made by Deborah Brandon on more than one occasion during JSUSD board meetings in 2015. This is problematic because it goes against the districts resolution, and also contradicts the districts missions and beliefs. JSUSD Mission & Beliefs can be found on the district’s website, and states “John Swett Unified School District’s dedicated professionals work for the good of all students, focusing on promoting higher student achievement by motivating, and challenging every student to strive enthusiastically toward academic, and personal success. All Students can, and must experience success in their own learning.” “Professional staff must put forth high quality
effort, employ multiple teaching strategies, and work as a team to educate their students. Professional staff, and students are responsible for the quality of the educational experience, and all will be accountable for it. All people deserve to be treated with respect, and are expected to treat all others with respect. Partnerships among professional staff, students, parents, and community are most effective when positive attitudes are sought, encouraged, and shared”.

Replacing an Indian Mascot with Warrior is not an example of treating others with respect and is not an example of accountability; Warrior mascots are often associated or depicted as Native American. Depicting Warriors as the John Swett’s High School is synonymous with the legacy JSUSD has created with the former John Swett High School Indian mascot. John Swett High School yearbooks, student newsletters, school team sporting events, cheerleading, scoreboards, and uniforms have all promoted, and upheld this legacy. JSUSD yearbooks over the decades have included the term “Warrior” in relation to their Indian Mascot, and is documented online. For this reason alone, JSUSD should abandon Warriors as a mascot. Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes will continue to advocate for the removal of Native American mascots/Institutionalized racism, and mascots that promote violence in schools.

For More Information please contact: Sacred Sites Protection Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes at: sspandrit@gmail.com or visit our Facebook Page: Save Sacredsites. 

Audio Recordings of JSUSD Board of Education meetings are available online. To listen to the February 10th meeting, click here.  The mascot issue starts at 2:03:10.

The next JSUSD meeting is on March 9, 2016 at 6:30pm. (Please refer to the above link for the districts office location) SSPRIT will be in attendance, addressing the Warrior mascot. The public is welcome to attend. SSPRIT will be providing a teach-out prior to the board meeting. For more information about the teach-out, please email: sspandrit@gmail.com or visit http://www.facebook.com/save.sacredsites.1

Molly Batchelder and reflections on attending a highschool with an Indian Mascot

Molly Batchelder – SSPRIT Ally

My name me playing indianis Molly Batchelder.  I am blessed to be a member of Sacred Sites Protection and Rights of Indigenous Tribes.  And over the past two years I have been involved in the mascot decolonization work at John Swett High School, my alma mater.

This was me, playing Indian, when I was in high school.  This was me, isolating the Native American experience as a 16 year old white girl:  with faux buckskin and face paint, and tomahawk, likely performing the gestures we’ve all learned from Saturday morning cartoons and from playing cowboys and Indians.  We all know these gestures.  And this behavior was reinforced as acceptable, not only by mass media and pop culture, but by my learning institution.  I was encouraged to actually BE an Indian.  While opposing teams held up banners at football games that read: “Kill the Indians”; “Scalp the Indians.”

After the John Swett Education board voted unanimously this past March to retire their Indian mascot, one former student messaged me and said, “Great, thanks to you no one will even remember that Indians existed.” To which I replied, “Do you think Native Americans are extinct?”

The lines of fact and fiction are so blurred because of these mascots. For so many people in this country, the Indian I played in high school has actually replaced real human beings.  Please, I ask you to think about the implications when the dominant culture gets to control the image of another culture.  And then teaches its children to use the horrors of forgotten genocide as common sports banter.

I am not an Indian. I am European American, with a whole history of stories of my own and lines of ancestors that have contributed to the person I am today.  I have a responsibility grow and develop my own image.  Indigenous peoples have a responsibility to do the same with theirs, however they choose.  And we all have a responsibility to see each other as human.

This is an exciting time.  We are all now part of a mass movement where we have a chance to recognize the truth about these mascots and bring in together a new era of education and awareness for our future generations.   Please, join us.