Ignorance Hurts All of Us

Photograph shared on Facebook by Supporting South Dakota Reservations Page and  "A Good Day To Die" The Dennis Banks Documentary' 10 hours ago

Photograph shared on Facebook by Supporting South Dakota Reservations Page and “A Good Day To Die” The Dennis Banks DocumentaryToday is Tuesday, November 19, 2013.

Today is Tuesday, November 19, 2013.
Sudents at McAdory High School in Jefferson County, Alabama, were geared up to for a Round 2 state football playoff game with the Pinson Valley Indians.  Never mind that the opponents’ “Indians” mascot name is offensive enough, the McAdory students created a big  “push thru” sign that read, “Hey Indians, get ready to leave in a Trail of Tears Round 2.”  This is exactly why the mascot name is offensive.  No matter what the apologists say, these names are connected with the real people they represent, and in this case, heartbreakingly so.
Principal Tod Humphries says he accepts full responsibility for the sign, which immediately made the rounds of social media, thanks to Instagram, saying that the person who was responsible for checking the content of public display signs is out on maternity leave.  Some excuse!  The fact is that these kids thought it was OK to put up a sign like this.  If the adults know better, but did not think it was important enough to teach their kids, then shame on them!
The high school’s website has published an apology for the sign that you can read here. Specifically, the apology says,
“Please accept our sincere apologies to the Native American people and to anyone who was offended by the reference to an event that is a stain on our nation’s past forever.”In response to the “bust thru” sign used by McAdory High School during the Round 2 State Play-Off game versus Pinson Valley High School, all social studies and history teachers will re-teach and/or review units concerning Native American displacement following the Indian Removal Act of 1830.”

 

I sure hope so.  And I hope they will teach it a little differently, this year.  It is so easy to hide behind historical terms such as “Native American displacement.”  So easy to talk about it as a government policy and not as an event that shattered people’s lives and essentially made it impossible for them to live the way they had for hundreds of years.  They had to relocate (and most of them walked) hundreds of miles to unfamiliar land, which wasn’t the best for growing crops.  Suddenly, the buffalo that they depended on for food, shelter, tools and clothing were disappearing, and their rights to hunt and fish were vastly reduced.  Native Americans changed within a matter of decades from proud people who lived in peace and plenty to beaten down people who were told they could not speak their own language or  worship as they pleased.  They became poor because their ability to obtain food was limited, and they were not given the same access to jobs as their new, white neighbors.  Time after time, they were cheated out of their land, their cultural inheritance, their spiritual path, and the payments that they had been promised in return for the land they gave up.  They began to live in fear from those who misunderstood and feared them.   “Native Americans are human just like everyone else!” commented one person on Facebook.  Think about it.  How do human beings react to change?  Not very well.  Most of us have to deal with a lot of fear associated with moving to a new area, especially when it is done abruptly.  How many of us connect our own feelings about moving with the feelings that the Natives had about suddenly having to leave their ancestral homelands, by force?  Why don’t we teach our kids to empathize with them in this way, to better understand their anger and frustration with the system as it has affected their lives, reduced their ability to fend for themselves, and increased their dependence on the government?

In response to the sign, many people contacted the school to voice their anger and concern over the sign.  Frankly, given the mindset of the people who live in that particular area of the United States,  I wonder whether they would have issued a public apology if the sign had not gone viral on Instagram.  Institutional racism like this tends to hang on and on if people don’t call attention to it and make their opposition to it public.  This is just one more round in an ongoing battle against racism in the United States.  :-/
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2 Comments

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2 responses to “Ignorance Hurts All of Us

  1. This post touches me as a Canadian. The “Highway of Tears” is a sad part of Canadian history. The same sad past as the “Trail of Tears” farther south.

    On this 500 mile stretch between Prince George and Prince Rupert in Northern British Columbia, 600 aboriginal women are missing or presumed murdered.

    Interesting Link to bring awareness and act as a reminder of the mothers, daughters, sisters and loved ones who are no longer with us. I think the artist is making a very strong statement.

    http://www.theredressproject.org/

  2. Thanks for the information and the link, Andi.

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