This is my paper from my Intro to History class that I am taking.
My city’s high school mascot is the Red Raider. It is the profile of a Native American man. The school colors are red and white. When we go to football games, the marching band plays the war dance song while the cheerleaders make a motion with their arms to resemble chopping with a tomahawk. It makes my stomach churn and I want to cry every time. I look around and I see over a hundred kids and at least that many adults cheering and chanting along. Call me a snowflake if you will but, every time, I am filled with disbelief and guilt.
I remember talking with an old roommate of mine one day, who is Native American. I am embarrassed to admit that I needed him to explain why using such terms as tribe and spirit animal were not ok. They are Native American terms and should not be used lightly because they are serious parts of Native American heritage. Because I had this experience with my friend, it opened my eyes to why cultural appropriation is not ok and I strive to be mindful and respectful to all the members of my community, small and large.
When the school mascot was changed from Raiders to Red Raiders and the logo was included back in the 50s, it was a different time. People watched the Lone Ranger on TV. Westerns were popular. Having a Red Raider mascot meant power, strength, and honor. Back in 2015, a resident tried to engage in a discussion to change the mascot and was met with intense rage from so many people who were in no mood to discuss changing it, let alone actually change it. I know many of the people who got so mad at the thought of change. They are nice, well-meaning people. They aren’t cheering on the Red Raiders, intent on disrespecting the Native American people. They are still looking at the Red Raider logo through the lens of strength and power. Remembering why the Red Raider mascot started, helps me not get so angry when I am faced with it at sporting events.