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Not long ago, Tim Giago, Oglala Lakota, originator of the Lakota Times newspaper on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, South Dakota, and current publisher emeritus of the Native Sun News Today, became the standard bearer for a movement to abolish the use of Indians as mascots. This included abolishing stereotypical dress, dance, music and singing which did nothing but mock and denigrate something that was held to be culturally significant or sacred by the tribe(s) these actions were meant to represent. These things were done under the guise of “honoring” the Indian people. Is it truly honoring if the people do not feel honored?

If using black-face is no less than mockery, then it follows that using cultural aspects of the Indian tribes and Indian images, to stir passion and enthusiasm for a sport event or team is also mockery. Excusing this behavior as honoring the Indian does not meet the smell test.

There are those who adamantly support one side or the other, leaving little room for compromise on either part. There is no doubt that each faction has a measure of good, well-intentioned people, who just happen to hold opposing views. I see no need to summon the word police or the politically correct enforcers. The single best reason to not engage in this behavior is decency. Decency and consideration for others make a pretty solid foundation on which to build human relations. Acts of simple decency are a good mirror and can provide a worthy reflection of who we are.

Harold W. “Bill” O’Donnell

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Buffalo, Wyoming

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