Does Chief Wahoo Need To Go?

- wadE

Recently I was listening to the radio out here in (not very) sunny southern California when the guys on the morning show started giggling at the fact that Compton High School's mascot is the "tar-babes". I must admit, that does seem a bit odd, and also a little funny...but that can't be true!

Well, I did a little research and sure enough, the Compton High School mascot is the "tar-babes"...however, it's not in the sense we've all be thinking. Originally (like back in 1898) they were the lions. But in 1927 Compton added a community college campus so graduates could take some post-secondary classes on the same campus. That same year they changed their mascot to the "Tartars". The Tartar is a reference to a Mongolian or Central Asian person known for being ferocious and violent. Nice, huh? The "baby" part of it came from the high school being dubbed the "baby tartars" and the college being the "adult tartars". Over the years it just evolved...

Now why am I bringing this up...outside of the fact that it's an interesting and funny story? It really got me thinking about mascots, and specifically the use of Native Americans.

I never really gave this topic much though growing up. I don't think that the Washington Redskins, nor the Cleveland Indians (nor the Owatonna Indians for that matter!) gave me a negative view of Native Americans. (Although the obnoxiously horrible Tomahawk-chop used by the Atlanta Braves and Florida State is enough reason for me to support the abolition of Native American mascots!)


C'mere you bastard...I'm gonna (hic-cup) kick your ass!

(Quick story...a few years ago I was attending a Vikings/Redskins game at the metrodome. As I was walking into the stadium there were several Native American protest groups camped out. I'll never forget walking by this 70-year old woman holding a sign saying, "Welcome Washington Cocksuckers". High-comedy!!!)

But what about other racial mascots? San Diego State are the Aztecs. Although their old mascot, Monty Montezuma, didn't make some people happy, so they changed him from a chest thumping cheerleader (um, I mean "stuntman") to more of a statesman-like figure.

Better yet...what about the Notre Dame Fighting Irish. Easily the most racist mascot out there. They've reduced the entire Irish race to a drunken, belligerant, leprachaun...oh wait...I guess that is true... :-D I'm kidding...really! Anyway, I haven't seen a big push from the Irish community to get rid of that mascot. So what's the big deal?


C'mere ya bastard...I'm gonna (hic-cup) kick yer ass!

On the other hand...a very compelling argument is that the use of these mascots are supposed to honor Native Americans. When you honor someone you name a school after them, not the team (MLK, JFK, etc.). This is very true. It'd be in pretty poor taste to have your football team be the Kennedy's, the cheerleaders be the Jackie-ettes or something.

On yet another hand you have a group of guys creating an intramural basketball team from the University of Northern Colorado called the Fighting Whites. I, as a white man, am not offended by this whatsoever. If someone were to call me whitey, or a cracker...I wouldn't be offended. If I were to use the N-word with someone, they would be very offended. Why is that?

Ok, I'm getting off track. I have a feeling I'm not going to convince myself one way or the other here. Personally, I Chief Wahoo needs to go...it's a little too obnoxious and not done in respect to Native Americans (and I just can't stand Cleveland!) ...but the Indians shouldn't change their name. Maybe they should just pick a new mascot...a nice Hindu fellow with a dot on his forehead.

Maybe Native Americans should stop focusing on this problem and start to focus on problems that affect their people. Alcoholism, gambling addiction, and the sudden influx of casino revenue that is turing their nations into a group of haves and have-nots. However, that is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

- 05/07/2002


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