Friday, April 11, 2008

Elected Officials Can Be Indian Too

Originally Posted 23 February, 2008

It’s a given that few elected officials really know or understand anything about American Indians. Yet, these are the people who continuously make decisions and introduce legislative bills that can have either positive or adverse affects.

Being raised on a diet of movies, books, and comics that stereotype Indians, it’s no wonder that our elected officials leave the American Indian holding the short end of the stick the majority of time. The playing of “Cowboys and Indians” as a child often follows our elected officials into their young adulthood as they attend colleges and universities that have an Indian mascot. By the time a person is elected into a legislative position, the ability to recognize reality from fiction is sorely diminished.
A case in point is Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe. If you recall from an earlier post, Beebe steadfastly refused to sign a proclamation designating last November as American Indian Heritage Month. Beebe is also an alumni of Arkansas State University, which to the dismay of many of it’s supporters is finally ridding itself of it’s trio of Indian mascots - Chief Big Track, the Princess, and the Brave - along with it‘s social “Indian Club“.

As an other example of the dangers of wannabe “tribes”, in attempt to retain these mascots, ASU advertised that they were supported by an approval from “a group representing the Cherokee nations as well as other native Americans about authentic dances, symbols, costumes, etc.” This “
representation” of Cherokee nations was the so-called “Western Cherokee of Arkansas and Missouri”. The “Western Cherokee” is a non-profit corporation that was created by Lola Scholl of Paragould AR. Lola is one of those who claims that the Cherokee were originally Jews who migrated to this continent.

In a January series of radio interviews and talks, Beebe demonstrated his fantasy about American Indians and inability to separate reality from dreams. On the subject of the ASU mascot change Beebe remarked: “I like the Indians.” “I’m an Indian. I’m still an Indian. I ‘ll always be an Indian. I’ll be happy with whatever they end up doing. I’ll support it no matter whatever it is, the Wolves or Red Wolves, but it’s hard to get that Indian out of you too. I’ll be there whatever it is.”

How many other legislative officials share the same fantasy that clouds their judgment when dealing with American Indian issues? I submit that this includes the majority. To them, the American Indian is a whimsical plaything of no real substance. After all, they can be “Indian” too.

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