And now:Ish <[EMAIL PROTECTED]> writes:

posted via the NativeAmericanLaw list by  Mark Little <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>

Copyright 1998 Stuart News Company The Jupiter Courier (Jupiter, FL)
September 9, 1998, Wednesday SECTION: Community; Pg. A8 


BYLINE: Watterson Hyland & Klett The Law 

Our office has several conference rooms, and each has been named by our
reception staff, so we'll know in what room a client or visitor is
waiting. My favorite has been the Osceola room, in which hung a large
portrait of the famed Seminole leader. Sometimes I think of Osceola when
the firm takes on representations where the opposition has vast
resources to fight our claims and overwhelm our defenses, and we have
only a modest notion of justice but the courage to demand it. 

But, more often than not, visitors who saw the impressive portrait would
ask, "Did you guys go to Florida State?" Perhaps this shouldn't surprise
me so, as there seems to be so few people around today who were raised
in Florida, and less that care about its history lessons. I used to take
the time to tell a little of the Osceola story, but we recently moved
him to another spot in the office, away from the conference room area.
There now hangs a large watercolor of alligators basking in the

Maybe there's a chance that Floridians could come to know the story of
the Seminole tribe and its leader, if only this state's second public
university would cease the shameless exploitation of Native Americans by
the use of mascots, tokens, logos and chants. The "Seminoles" of Florida
State University are war-like savages, prone to violence, and frozen in
the romanticized historical period that ended over a century ago. 

The Florida American Indian Movement (AIM) has scheduled several
protests against Florida State. The organization claims that the Osceola
mascot and his portrayal of native people in stereotypical ways, mocks
their sacred things and dehumanizes them in front of roaring crowds. The
band's baton twirlers, dressed in their short and cute Indian girl
dresses, the groaning war chant and tomahawk chop, the whooping Indian
logo, are little more than racist stereotypic imagery that dehumanizes
Native Americans. 

Florida State picked "Seminoles" as its nickname in 1947. Because of the
pervasiveness and longevity involved with use of that nickname, it has
become institutionalized, and it has become very difficult for
university leaders to recognize discriminatory and racist practices for
what they are. AIM points out that few would fail to understand the
problem if some FSU fans painted their faces black, supposedly honoring
the contributions of African Americans to our culture and to their
football team. Native Americans argue that the sports team parodies of
their of their culture, history, and spirituality are just as racist and
outdated as Little Black Sambo. 

The Florida State University non-discrimination policy demands that all
students, faculty, and all other employees, are treated with dignity and
respect, and that racist assumptions, attitudes, acts or policies are
incompatible with the concept of responsible freedom. The university
prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, creed, color, sex,
religion or national origin. The policy prohibits actions that interfere
with the opportunity of a student to obtain an education, or which
create an intimidating or hostile work or educational environment. FSU
has incorporated this policy into its Student Code of Conduct, filed
with the Florida Department of Education. 

The Florida AIM claims that FSU has yet to graduate a single Seminole
Indian student. Not one. It claims that real Seminole students who have
enrolled in the past have left the school because of the alienation they
felt on campus, caused, in part, by the racist stereotypes promoted by
the university. The university administration, when contacted by a
research aide at our office, claimed one Seminole graduate, and promised
to provide the information later. The university was unable to provide
any further information specific to Seminole enrollment. 

Dartmouth, Marquette, Syracuse, Stanford, Oklahoma, St. John's, Illinois
and Bradley universities have all dropped Native American depictions
from their sports teams, or changed their school nicknames. Why not
Florida State? Stanford University, which changed its name from the
Indians to the Cardinals, and changed its logos, mascots, and game-day
culture, also developed an awareness of special needs of Native American
students, and saw its enrollment figures more than double in ten years
and the undergraduate retention rate increase to 90 percent while
national figures remain at around 50 percent. 

Florida State University is going to change its nickname one day. Then,
there won't be a dancing, prancing Osceola on the field, or on his
mythical horse, whooping and chopping. As a public institution of higher
education, that school in Tallahassee shouldn't be able to evade
political correctness forever. Whether native Americans sue the State of
Florida, or accomplish this change through public awareness or political
activity, the change will be long overdue. FSU ought to abandon the
trappings of racism as a memorial to the real Osceola, the Seminole
leader who fought to keep his people free.

  But, I imagine that great numbers of "alumnoles" will fight the Florida
AIM movement, and commit vast resources to stave off the attack on their
FSU heritage. It's the battle of the Osceolas: IM's outgunned but bold
and relentless warrior attacks, against the game-day theatre student.
And someday, when that battle is over, and our portrait of Osceola is
seen as history and honor instead of pomp and pageantry, we'll again
meet the visitors in the Osceola room at Watterson, Hyland & Klett. 

It would be wrong of us to promote the elimination of "Seminoles" as the
nickname without trying to assuage the fears of the FSU faithful. Every
other school that has decided to get on the right side has survived. Not
one closed. Some schools realized a marketing bonanza as fans snapped up
new logowear. We propose that FSU become the BOBBYS, in honor of their
great coach, Bobby Bowden. The mascot would be a man in a Bobby outfit,
like Billy the marlin, only more like a big garnet and gold Pillsbury
Doughboy. Imagine the money that could be made from Burger King sales of
Beanie Bobbys. Instead of the fans chanting the Atlanta Braves war
chant, they would moan in unison "Daa-aaa-gummit," and motion with their
arms wide to the right. And they'd win and lose just like they do now. 

We welcome your comments regarding this or other topics at: Watterson,
Hyland & Klett, P. A. 4100 RCA Blvd., Suite 100, Palm Beach Gardens, FL
33410, E-Mail: [EMAIL PROTECTED]

<<<<=-=-=                                  =-=-=>>>> 
"We simply chose an Indian as the emblem.
  We could have just as easily chosen any
uncivilized animal."
   Eighth Grade student writing about his school's
   mascot, 1997

<<<<=-=  =-=>>>> 

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