Native American Panel Focuses On Racial Mascots

Taylor Muller, The Gateway (Univ. of Nebraska), Nov. 17, 2006

With an active Native American presence on campus, Native American Heritage Month brought many events to UNO, including a faculty panel on the use of Native American mascots on Nov. 14.

Barbara Robins, one of the panel members and an assistant professor of English, said that while the issue wasn’t the most critical, it was useful and helpful to the Native American population.

“There are much bigger issues, such as sovereignty, that Native Americans deal with,” said Robins. “But, these sorts of things really go a long way in educating people.”

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Student Organizations and Leadership Programs, Intertribal Student Council and the Native American studies department sponsored the panel discussion.

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More than 60 people, the majority of whom were students, filled the Nebraska Room of the Milo Bail Student Center to participate in the hour-long question-and-answer session.

The panel was made up of Robins, Carolyn Fiscus, Ed Zendejas and Denny Smith, who were all against using Native American images as sports mascots.

When asked if banning those images could be considered a form of censorship, Zendejas responded: “So what?”

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“When I think about the mascots, there was a lot of pride in having a Native American mascot,” said Rob Olsen, a non-traditional student. “Is that the same thing as honoring something?”

Fiscus responded by describing the use of Native mascots as degrading and inappropriate.

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This event was only one of many chosen to highlight Native American culture this month, which Fiscus said limits the plight of Native Americans to only one month a year.

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