Jun 19, 2006

It's 2006? Are You Sure?

Our little town has a cute little summer festival that I can no longer support. Before I comment further, read the article from the paper:

The Gazette
Serving the communities of Pecatonica, Seward, Winnebago, Durand
June 15th, 2006
Volume 133, Number 24
Page 12

Peeketolika Festival mascot naming winner announced

Pecatonica – The Pecatonica Improvement Association held a name the Peeketolika Mascot Contest at the Pecatonica Schools. The festival features an Indian Theme. Sixteen names were submitted with Tommy TeePee being chosen the winner. The name was submitted by Jeffrey Baker and he will receive a bag of coins on the children’s stage, in the Family TeePee, at the festival that will be held on June 23 and 24 at the Winnebago County Fairgrounds. The mascot will be played by members of the Pec Playhouse Youth Group. Other names submitted were: Chief Thunderbolt, Chief Magnifico, T.P. Pete, Petecolicico, Chief Pec Man, River Runner, Chief Peeketolika, Chief Keto, Chief Peeketo, Ronnoc, Noidam, Tommy Tee Pee, How-ee, Chief Featherhead, Chief Pecahotas, chief Wanna Win. The festival is sponsored by the P.I.A. for the purpose of offering not for profit groups to fund raise.

Peeketolika Mascot
The Peeketolika Festival mascot’s new name is Tommy TeePee. Shown is local student Jessica Barkdoll in the tee-pee and headdress. Tommy TeePee will be a featured attraction at the Peeketolika Festival on June 23 and 24.

I will not support the Peeketolika Festival solely because of their mascot “Tommy TeePee”. I find it incredibly offensive and bigoted and will not attend the event. I want to clarify that while events such as Festa Italiana and the Swedish Midsommer Festival are fun they do not promote degrading stereotypes against the wishes of the people they are trying to celebrate.

Shame on
Pecatonica Improvement Association for promoting this

Shame on
Pec Playhouse for participating

Shame on the
Winnebago County Fair Board for allowing it

Shame on the teachers who didn’t stop this

Shame on the
Pecatonica School Board for allowing such a contest promoting and teaching our children how to be racists. Racism is not a game.

The United States Commission on Civil Rights
Commission Statement on the Use of Native American Imagesand Nicknames as Sports Symbols Issued: April 13, 2001


TaterTot said...

I’ve always wondered what would happen if Monday Night Football had the Washington Redskins vs. New York Niggers. Or if World Series came down to the Atlanta Braves vs. San Francisco Sand Jockey’s. How about a NHL match between the Chicago Blackhawks and the Worthington WOP’s?

Can you just imagine?

Jenny said...

It would be like going to Festa Italiana and the mascot being a giant meatball with a curly moustache and a rosary and white collar around his neck and then we would call him - Father Dego. Woo Hoo, I already feel celebrated!

Nancy said...

Ooh, that's awful.

And not that I'm a big fan of the Redskins anyway, but I will not support the team in any way by purchasing paraphenalia that supports the team. It's embarrassing to be here in DC and hear people refer to the 'Skins all the time.

Jenny said...

I was floored when I read the kids from our school were asked to participate.

Mr. BlahZeeBlah said...

The teachers could have used the contest as a way to EDUCATE the kids about Native American culture. This is the concept of hegemony at work in all of it's awful glory.
Too bad kids have to go to college to learn about all of nasty things we (us white folk) did to the "savages". Manifest Destiny indeed!

punkymom said...

As a member of a family thats Father in-law is married to a Seminole and who's Step-sister in-law is also Seminole and live on the reservation and are active members of the tribe. I don't know what to say about the whole thing, I plan to ask them, I do know that typically they don't get too worked up about some idiot wearing something that doesn't even resemble a indian or it's home, I don't think we can say that in this case it is a act of sterotyping or Racism I'm sure they aren't thinking of all the awful childish things people will say about the name but I do know that I also think it's awful that they are not using this as a way to educate our children about the Winnebago and other local tribes and trying to get a actual authentic Indian dress worn by someone who can story tell or weave or something. I do plan to find out my families opinion on the matter and if they feel it is inappropriate then Poohey will not participate, or if they just think it's another fine example of Pecatonica's ignorance in education and civic matters(showing the colors of their neck).

TaterTot said...

My new word today: hegemony. Had to look it up.

Thanks for the education, Mr. Blahzeeblah.

Jenny said...

The whole thing makes me sad. Not everyone in town thinks that way. I just hope people don't judge the whole town based on the ignorant actions of a few.

Although if we as a community don't educate those that don't understand then we deserve the label we get.

TaterTot said...

I would think (or hope) that the festival did not create their new mascot/costume with a racist attitude. BUT, good intentions do not guarantee good perceptions.

To me, the bigger question is who gets to decide whether or not something is considered bigoted or racist; those making the comment (or mascot) or those who it could potentially offend? If something offends some and not others, should it still be considered offensive? There are some African-American’s who have no problem using the word nigger in conversation, having declared to “reclaim the word”. Does this opinion by some override the history (and opinions of others) of what may be considered our country’s most blatantly bigoted and racist term?

My stance has always been that I don’t get to decide what is considered racist for another culture or group of people; they do. It is my intention I not only refrain from using such words or supporting such events, but educate those around me in the hopes of one day living in a world void of bigotry and racism.

Jenny said...

I think we had this same conversation a while back about the use of the word "Bitch".

TaterTot said...

Yes, I recall that post...one of your most commented on if I remember correctly.

I reserve the word "bitch" for only one person these days.

Jenny said...

I no longer use it to describe myself after that line of comments, based on the argument that 'reclaiming a word' doesn't work if it's still offensive to some - it just perpetuates hate.

TaterTot said...

Amen, sister.

Now throw your arms in the air and sing with me...

"All we are saying is give peace a chance..."

Java Junkie said...

I'm not so much offended by the words but, as you guys have already stated, the lack of education. The opportunity was great and could have been something wonderful, instead it was turned into a comedic portrayal heavily laden with stereotyping.

My eldest son's favorite subject in school, given the right teacher of course, is social studies. He LOVES learning about other cultures and peoples, past and present. I can't help but feel sad that these kids didn't get the opportunity they should have, not only for learning but making that learning a fun and exciting event. How fun would it have been to make up names that had meanings behind them, ya know? I know most kids LOVE to learn things like that.

cameo said...

i judge your town by you and tot. and that might be giving it too much credit?
the whole thing is - um, ignorant.
i live in k.c. we have the chiefs. not named after a tribe, mind you. a loving nickname the team gave the owner lamar hunt back in the day. the fans, and the marketing department have run with it, obviously.
i hate football.

but hang in there. and tell everyone you can why you won't be attending the festival. you might get a reputation, but who the hell cares about that? especially from them?

Jo said...

Well Dear, you hit a raw nerve with me. I did a research paper on Native American mascots and also fought a 3 year battle with a local college over a sorority using a Native American mascot. Good for you and I sure hope you do what you can to publicly denounce this crap. (By the way? I won that fight, the sorority disbanded rather than discontinue the use of the mascot)

Jo said...

Um, and I must kindly refute some of the above comments about using this opportunity to "educate" children. This is not about culture, it is about religion. Many of the symbols used in Native dress and ritual are religious in nature. Therefore having others wear authentic Indian "wear" is as unacceptable as having someone dress like a priest to educate someone about being Catholic, (Jen already mentioned that). If anyone has an interest in Native American anything, go to the source. Sorry, this really is a tender spot with me. Thanks for being so willing to notice something was wrong with this picture!

Jenny said...

I was waiting for your comment Jo. Thanks for putting it out here.

I'm considering asking the school board to run a racism eductaion program. I need to think about how I want to draft the letter to the school board, the newspaper, the ACLU and our local Native American Awareness Comittee lest next year we have 'Pastor Redneck McCracker' representing us in our Memorial Day Parade.

Spc. Freeman said...

Messed up any way one looks at it.

Where I'm from, there is a huge Anishinabe population, and my wife is Potawotomi, so I don't think something like this could happen here. There'd be riots. That, and the Anishinabe, through judicious use of their casino profits, have actually BOUGHT OUT like a third of the Upper Peninsula. Now that's just brilliant in my book. White boys take your land, buy it right back. I love it.

In protest of this outrage, though, I will be changing my name to "Honky." It's only right.

Jenny said...

Nice meet you Mr. Honkey you can call me Mrs Cracker With Obvious Provlems aka McWop.