Montoliu: An attempt to rewrite history


An article in the latest Lakeport Lamp Post by Phil Smoley of CPS Country Air about Indian Mascots begs to be answered, because it is deceptive, as he is rewriting history and turning it on its head.

He stated that America has always been proud of its Indian heritage.

Fact: They were called savages, heathens, in some cases barely human, and a problem that stood in the way of "progress" and "civilization" and had to be eliminated by any means necessary, including extermination. Indians were not citizens until after WW2, their religions were made illegal and their

cultures deliberately destroyed by Church and State, that worked together to "kill the Indian and save the man" in boarding schools, to make the man (and woman) into an obedient American manual worker.

He states that Indian school mascots were created to honor Indians.

Fact: They were created at a time (first half of the 20th century) when racism was rampant in America, and Indians were portrayed in books and movies as mindless savages bent on burning wagons and killing and scalping everything in sight, and kidnapping and raping women. Like the Washington

Redskins, they were portrayed as grotesque caricatures everywhere in the dominant culture.

He states there is an all out attack on "America's Indian heritage" today.

Reality check: It was America that attacked and destroyed its own Indian "heritage," that attempted to assimilate (terminate) Indians, shipping them to big cities where they ended up in ghettos, and continues to do so today by letting Native people live in third world conditions on many reservations, by letting corporate interests grab Indian resources (water, oil, coal, timber) and poison reservation lands and exhaust water tables with the complicity of the BIA.

He claims that only a small minority of Indians want to change the name of mascots. False, and he forgets to mention that Indians were never consulted as to whether these mascots were a proper way to honor them, whether they wanted to be reduced to being America's mascots, after having been decimated, betrayed, dispossessed, persecuted and forgotten, left to starve as prisoners on reservations in the late 19th century.

He states that these people do not know the meaning of the term "Indian." They do: it means people from India. They never called themselves "Indians." They were Anishnabe, Lakota, Pikuni, Dineh, Hupa, Yokut, Karuk, Miwok and they were not all warriors, they did not all wear feather headdresses, they were as different from each others as Englishmen are different from Greeks or Russians.

Finally, he thinks his own idea of Indian "identity" (based on stereotypes and movies) and of Indian "heritage" should take precedence over the thoughts, feelings, wishes of actual, living Native people, that to "honor" Native people means to force them to accept America's fantasies of what it means to be "Indian", whether they like it or not ... nothing new here, but it all boils down to disrespect and arrogance, which have until recently been a significant part of America's heritage, and would remain if he had his way.

Raphael Montoliu lives in Lakeport.