Protestors await arrival of Washington’s pro football team

 PlassBittersweet 

By Dawn Walschinski - Kalihwisaks

When the Washington Football Team arrives Sunday, September 15 to take on the Green Bay Packers, the people whom its mascot purportedly honors will be waiting protest signs in hand. 

But before taking on the parking lot outside the gridiron, members of the Indian Mascot and Logo Task Force will host a forum on Friday, September 13 to discuss race-based mascots at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB). Chair of Indian Mascot and Logo Taskforce for Wisconsin Indian Education Association Barb Munson (Oneida) has been a leading advocate of removing race based mascots from Wisconsin schools, and is helping to organize Operation Respect. 

“We’re creating a forum for discussing stereotyping and the misinformation about First Nations people that have been perpetrated by sports teams, the media and schools,” said Munson.

The event will feature Richie Plass’ (Menominee/Stockbridge-Munsee) exhibit Bittersweet Winds, a collection of 300 items representing both Native American culture and Indian stereotypes. 

“What I think that what is really unique and powerful about the exhibit is there are people who come in, and they … are from towns and schools that may already have that name or that image and they come in with an attitude with their fist in the air, but … they see everything,” said Plass. “They see the drum, they see the artwork, they see the old documents and photographs. Stuff that a lot of us call culturally relative, but then right next to it you see … the Smurfs dressed up like Indians, ‘now that I see all of this God awful stuff … man, I’m kind of getting it.’ To me, that’s the biggest point.”

Munson hopes that area educators will visit the exhibit to learn more about the issue of race based mascots. 

“This is a great opportunity to really catch up on this issue, and especially for classroom teachers, if their doing an American Indian Studies unit and they want a contemporary issue to talk about with their students the mascot and logo issue is a contemporary Wisconsin Indian issue that involves all the tribes and years of advocacy,” she said. 

While the Washington NFL team hasn’t visited Green Bay in five years, Munson states their mascot casts a long shadow.

“It’s a stereotype, it’s a racial slur, and Native people have been telling people from the mainstream for a long time that this is something that’s really harmful,” said Munson. “The Washington R-***** are the same issue as Indian logos in the public schools in this way - they don’t stay in one place. The teams do not stay in one community and only harm the children in one community … They play at other people’s fields, so it’s like an infection that goes from one place to another. Their taking this negative impact along with them where ever they go to play.” 

Plass states there’s a lack of respect on the side of supporters of Indian mascots towards actual Indians. 

“They’re playing Indian, they don’t know what it’s like to live where we’ve lived, they don’t know what it’s like to have gone through what we’ve gone through, and what a lot of us still go through,” he said. “I get told the same old same old – this

When the Washington Football Team arrives Sunday, September 15 to take on the Green Bay Packers, the people whom its mascot purportedly honors will be waiting protest signs in hand. 

But before taking on the parking lot outside the gridiron, members of the Indian Mascot and Logo Task Force will host a forum on Friday, September 13 to discuss race-based mascots at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay (UWGB). Chair of Indian Mascot and Logo Taskforce for Wisconsin Indian Education Association Barb Munson (Oneida) has been a leading advocate of removing race based mascots from Wisconsin schools, and is helping to organize Operation Respect. 

“We’re creating a forum for discussing stereotyping and the misinformation about First Nations people that have been perpetrated by sports teams, the media and schools,” said Munson.

The event will feature Richie Plass’ (Menominee/Stockbridge-Munsee) exhibit Bittersweet Winds, a collection of 300 items representing both Native American culture and Indian stereotypes. 

“What I think that what is really unique and powerful about the exhibit is there are people who come in, and they … are from towns and schools that may already have that name or that image and they come in with an attitude with their fist in the air, but … they see everything,” said Plass. “They see the drum, they see the artwork, they see the old documents and photographs. Stuff that a lot of us call culturally relative, but then right next to it you see … the Smurfs dressed up like Indians, ‘now that I see all of this God awful stuff … man, I’m kind of getting it.’ To me, that’s the biggest point.”

Munson hopes that area educators will visit the exhibit to learn more about the issue of race based mascots. 

“This is a great opportunity to really catch up on this issue, and especially for classroom teachers, if their doing an American Indian Studies unit and they want a contemporary issue to talk about with their students the mascot and logo issue is a contemporary Wisconsin Indian issue that involves all the tribes and years of advocacy,” she said. 

While the Washington NFL team hasn’t visited Green Bay in five years, Munson states their mascot casts a long shadow.

“It’s a stereotype, it’s a racial slur, and Native people have been telling people from the mainstream for a long time that this is something that’s really harmful,” said Munson. “The Washington R-***** are the same issue as Indian logos in the public schools in this way - they don’t stay in one place. The teams do not stay in one community and only harm the children in one community … They play at other people’s fields, so it’s like an infection that goes from one place to another. Their taking this negative impact along with them where ever they go to play.” 

Plass states there’s a lack of respect on the side of supporters of Indian mascots towards actual Indians. 

“They’re playing Indian, they don’t know what it’s like to live where we’ve lived, they don’t know what it’s like to have gone through what we’ve gone through, and what a lot of us still go through,” he said. “I get told the same old same old – this