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In Idaho, there is a pretty little town called Salmon. Like most towns, it is filled with some nice people. However it might have started though, these nice people selected a mascot for their school children that is a racist depiction of an Indian. I'm sure that is not what they started out to do, but it happened anyway. They have had this symbol and mascot for some years now, and have naturally become attached to it. They defend it by saying it was done to honor the Indian. The mascot is called the "Savage Indian".

As an Indian, I would like to tell you what that term means to me. It was a common practice not so long ago, to take the children away from the "Savage" Indian families because of course, "Savages" couldn't raise children in the proper way. The child would be sent to a boarding school, where the first thing done would be to give the child a "proper" name. Not a "savage" name like "Yellow Bird", but a proper name like "John" or "Mary". The next thing to happen was to cut the "savage's" hair to make him/her "look civilized". If the child were to utter their real name instead of the "proper" name, they would be severly beaten and told that only "savages" used names like that. If the child were to utter any word in their own language, they would be severly beaten and told that they were forbidden to use the "savage" language, and must speak only English. No objects of a cultural nature were allowed, after all, they were learning to be civilized, not to be "savages". The child was stripped of everything that made him/her who they really were, including their culture, their family, their language, and their spirit.

Is it any wonder that I don't feel proud to "honored" by this mascot? Is it any wonder that I feel it is a stereotypical and racist action against Indian people? Here is a photograph of what greets a visitor to Salmon, ID. Just up the street from this sign is a place called the "Savage Circle", where one can order a "Savage burger".

Town Sign
The town sign.
Arch
This is the Arch at the entrance to the High School football/track field.

The National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media (NCRSM) urges the removal of the mascot and symbol. Below are links to documents which explain how this mascot and this symbol cause damage to school children and adults. Please take the time to read them, and to send your feelings on this subject to the addresses provided. "We need to educate the educators." To teach the teachers that harming another with racist symbols, or reducing an entire race of people to mascots is wrong.

Original letter to the School Board 7/13/99
Response from Lanny Sloan 7/15/99
Letters to the Editor and a newspaper ad
Newspaper article 11/9/99
Panel discussions at ISU and Salmon High 11/15/99 and 11/16/99
Here is what you can do to assist in this issue
The Lemhi-Shoshone (Sacajawea's People) who were displaced from this area
URGENT Call to Action!

Here are some other documents worth reading

The official main page for NCRSM
An explanation of just what we mean by the word "Racism"
Here is a letter from the Society of Indian Psychologists expressing their opinions;
An article by Dr. Cornel Pewewardy of the University of Kansas;
A letter about stereotypes from David P. Rider, Ph.D. of Xavier University;
School Mascots by state
A report produced by the U.S. Department of Justice which PROVES racism exists against Indian people.
Are Indian and Murder Incompatible in the Media? A must read article!
Uninvestigated crimes against Indian people are another result of this racism


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© 1999 NCRSM and Mike Wicks