Girl Scouts Earn ‘Cultural Sensitivity’ Patch

AP, May 7, 2006

CLEVELAND—An area Girl Scout troop is hoping to open eyes about how the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo mascot—with a cartoonish red face, big smile and red feather on its head—could be hurtful to those of American-Indian descent.

Troop 165 recently held a public screening in suburban Garfield Heights of “WaWHO? Nothing is Sacred,” a documentary produced by the Cleveland branch of the American Indian Movement. During the event, youngsters took part in an American-Indian art project and Scouts who attended were able to earn a “Cultural Sensitivity” patch.

The patch features a red, white and blue heart and was designed for the troop by J.F. Novak Co., which manufactured the original Chief Wahoo logo in 1948.

“I guess we’ve really come around the bend,” said J.F. Novak owner Eleanor Rusnak, who was a teenager when the logo was first designed. “People felt differently back then, and we didn’t know how American Indians felt about the emblem. But it’s become a whole different world, and I’m just glad I’ve gotten to live long enough to be a part of it.”

AIM considers Chief Wahoo a racist symbol that is disrespectful of their culture and spirituality and says the feather belittles the Indian symbol of a heroic warrior.

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