It is High Time for America to Grow Up

Even before the kickoff, the FSU fans were flaunting their painted faces and chanting their grade-B movie Indian chant, and doing the infamous tomahawk chop.
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If Michael Haney and Vernon Bellecourt were alive today they would be dancing on the table tops because Florida State University got their butts kicked all the way up to their ears on New Year's Day by a flock of Ducks from Oregon.

The Ducks didn't just kick their "blooming arses" but they humiliated them in the process. The FSU team was so embarrassed that it ignored all decent protocol and walked off of the field without having the good graces to congratulate the winning team.

Even before the kickoff, the FSU fans were flaunting their painted faces and chanting their grade-B movie Indian chant, and doing the infamous tomahawk chop. "Yes, we are killers; we are savages who will use our tomahawks to take your scalps."

The Seminole Indians of Florida have allowed the white football fans of the FSU Seminoles to take their time-honored name "SEMINOLE" and cut it in half so it comes out as "NOLES." There are fans attired in sweatshirts and T-shirts with "NOLES" inscribed across their chests.

Suppose there was a football team named the Lakota and their fans cut it in half so it came out as KOTA. We would come off with the same name as a local radio and television station with the same call letters; KOTA. How about the Navajo? If you cut their name in half it would come out "AJO." The list could go on and on, but the point is: Why would an honorable Indian nation allow its name to be bastardized for the sake of a bunch of white football fans?

I recall visiting a booth put up by the Seminole Nation at a recent conference and I asked the lady manning the booth, "What do you think of the Seminole fans cutting your name in half?" She tossed her head and replied haughtily, "Oh, we love being used as mascots."

Charlene Teters, Spokane Tribe, of the IAIA College in Santa Fe and Suzanne Harjo -- recently honored by President Obama -- Muskogee, from Oklahoma probably would have given her the tomahawk chop on the head with an open hand. The proud Lakota, Dakota and Nakota fought for years to get the racist moniker "Fighting Sioux" removed from the flags, T-shirts and banners of the University of North Dakota and we won. There will be no more "Fighting Sioux" mascot that allows the white students, faculty and alumni of that university to paint their faces and parade as Indians.

And then there is the white guy (NOLE) dressed as an Indian carrying a spear who races a horse around the arena making moves of violence with the spear. But the most offensive part of this are the band and the fans singing a nonsensical war chant over and over and over as if this is the only song they know. To those of us who resent this cheap imitation of what it is to be Indian, it is annoying and yes, revolting.

How well I remember the time the fans of the Washington "R-Words" took a pig and painted it red, stuck feathers on its head, and then chased it around mid-field during a professional football game. As I wrote then, "What would have happened if they took this same pig and painted it black and put an Afro wig on it? African Americans would NOT consider this an honor and for good reason. Then why believe you are honoring us (Native Americans) with all of the chants, tomahawks and painted faces?

The year is now 2015 and it is high time for America to grow up! No matter how you chant it, chop it, or paint it, racism is racism.

Tim Giago can be reached at


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