Whenever mascots and nicknames make the news, the trickle-down effect always seems to reach Aniak, the proud home of the Halfbreeds.
I can guarantee you that already someone out there is gasping in disbelief, disgust, or both.
Halfbreeds? How can it be? How dare it be?
Save your rage for something deserving. Residents in the Kuskokwim River village of 532 overwhelmingly love their nickname and defend it more quickly than you can say “politically incorrect.”
There’s nothing wrong, politically or otherwise, with people who call it like it is. And here’s the plain truth, courtesy of Wayne Morgan, whose Halfbreed roots run deep. He’s a 1984 graduate of Aniak High School, a member of the school board, a member of the Kuskokwim Native Association and the coach of the boys basketball and cross-country teams.
“Most of Aniak’s residents,” Morgan says, “were and still are half-breeds—half one race and half another.”
A logo at the school shows a white man with a rifle and a Native man with a spear, their weapons crossing in what Morgan describes as a symbolic handshake. Aniak Halfbreed T-shirts are popular with tourists, and sales proceeds help support high school activities. And opponents don’t mock the nickname any more than they would if the school were known as the Wolves, the Huskies or the Eagles.
Sometimes, there’s even a little talk of changing names. But Halfbreed pride always wins out.
And then there’s the nickname showdown of all nickname showdowns, one you’ll only find in Alaska: Point Hope versus Port Graham. The Harpooners versus the Killer Whales.
Heaven help us if PETA hears about this.