Thanks for the severed head. You proved my point

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[Note: The image above has been making the rounds of social media recently. Adrienne K. of Native Appropriations pointed out on Facebook that the image "makes a powerful statement against Indian mascots. Believe it or not, this guy has been at it for three years."]

By Guest Contributor Adrienne K.; originally published at Native Appropriations in 2010.

Game 4. Philly Flyers vs. Chicago Blackhawks. The Flyers score a goal, and VERSUS tv shows this guy. This guy, holding an impaled, severed, Indian head. On national tv. Close up on his prop:

So disturbing, so graphic, and just what I wanted to wake up to on a Saturday morning. Truly sickening in the literal sense.

This proves it, without a doubt. Native American mascots are demeaning, stereotyping, and harmful to Native people. The Blackhawks logo is often touted as a “good” image–not evil or stupid looking, nothing like chief wahoo or the other blatantly racist images. But “good” image or not (and I still stand that no Indian mascot is a good mascot), clearly this demonstrates the danger when fans are given control over a mascot and image. There is no excuse for this man’s actions.

That’s one area mascot debates rarely cover–the actions of rival team’s fans and how they affect Native people. When an entire arena is shouting things like “Beat the Indians!” “Scalp the Redskins!” “F*@! the Blackhawks!” Can you imagine how it would feel to be a Native person hearing those things?

Even more upsetting about this image is the American history behind beheadings and scalpings of American Indians at the hands of whites. Into the late 1800′s, the california government offered bounties of 5 dollars per Indian head brought into city hall. The heads of great Indian leaders were kept as souvenirs by the US military, or strung up in trees or on posts to serve as a warning to other Indians who dare disobey. Scalping, a practice commonly associated with blood-thirsty Indians, was actually more widely used by the European settlers, and bounties were offered for Indian scalps as well. This proclamation from 1775 calls for scalps from Native men, women, and children–offering different rewards for each.

That’s why this makes me even more sick to my stomach.

We could also talk about how the TV station decided it was ok to air the image of this man, multiple times, or how the security at the arena let him through with that spear, and what those actions say about our society, or, per usual, draw the comparisons to other groups. Would a tv station air an image of a man carrying around an impaled Black head? Asian? Latino? No.

I’ve been getting a lot of emails lately about the Chicago Blackhawks, I’m assuming because of all the publicity with the Stanley Cup. A couple of people sent over this image:

Apparently the Chicago Tribune puts feathers on the homepage every time the team has a game. The feathers are pulled from the Blackhawks logo itself:

There have also been a few editorials circulating about the logo, and whether it’s time for a change. This one, from the Star, is pretty spot on. I talked a little bit about the danger of mascots and the psychological implications for Native students in this post about Tommy Tomahawk at Stilwell HS in OK. I recommend a read of Stephanie Fryburg’s work I link to in that post.

Even die-hard hockey fans can fall under the anti-hipster headdress manifesto.

So, overall, I guess I can–in a twisted and sick way–thank that Flyers fan. Anytime anyone says there is no harm in Indian mascots, I’m sending them that picture.

Offensive Logo has got to go: http://www.thestar.com/sports/hockey/nhl/article/815709–cox-offensive-blackhawks-logo-has-got-to-go

Flyers Fan celebrates with Impaled Head: http://sports.yahoo.com/nhl/blog/puck_daddy/post/Flyers-fan-celebrates-goal-with-impaled-Indian-h?urn=nhl,245889

Original pictures of the fan are from The Starter Wife: http://blackandgoldtchotchkes.com/

Earlier:

Meet Stilwell HS’s new Mascot: Tommy Tomahawk-http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2010/01/stilwell-high-schools-new-mascot.html

Tommy Tomahawk Update: http://nativeappropriations.blogspot.com/2010/01/tommy-tomahawk-update-school-board.html

  • ModernWizard

    Spot on, as usual, Adrienne. That severed head makes blatant that violent, elminationist, objectifying racism at the heart of Native American mascot imagery.

  • ModernWizard

    Spot on, as usual, Adrienne. That severed head makes blatant that violent, elminationist, objectifying racism at the heart of Native American mascot imagery.

  • Herostratus356

    If someone showed up to a Patriots game carrying the severed head of Uncle Sam or a US soldier, people would freak out.

  • janegray

    It’s my understanding that the Blackhawks are named after an individual and not some vague idea of Native Americans. That said, however, they could do away with the logo.

  • Blerdette

    Jesus tap-dancing Christ, that is horrifying.

    I’m a
    born and raised Washingtonian, and even when I was a little kid, I felt
    squicked out by our football team and the insane level of love people
    had for everything Burgundy, Gold, and flat-out racist. When the
    current head coach went on TV a few months back and proudly proclaimed
    that the team name would NEVER change as long as he was in charge, my
    stomach turned. I get that you’re probably a bit concerned over
    potentially losing some of that sweet, sweet merchandise money, but
    dude, really? You don’t own the team, and I’m pretty sure that if the
    real owners decided to rename the team the Washington Gridlocks for XYZ reason, you’d
    be out there talking about how much you loved the new name and would
    wear the hell out of a Gridlocks cap/shirt/scarf/whatever if it meant
    you got to stay on as head coach. Or maybe you’d walk. Either way, you
    stomping your feet and pouting about some big, bad meanies trying to get
    rid of your team’s gross name because it’s legitimately offensive just
    makes you look worse, and only highlights why the name is problematic
    and needs to change.

    I’m not a big football fan by any stretch,
    but I claim the Ravens every single year because at least their name and
    mascot are clever and not a grotesque caricature of a group of people
    that have been crapped on for literally centuries.

    TL;DR
    – If the mascot for your team is blatantly offensive and the fans of other teams
    that attend your games think that bringing THE FAKE SEVERED HEAD OF A
    MINORITY ON A STICK FOR 3 YEARS IN A ROW to taunt you with is totally
    OK, the last group of people you should be pissed at are the people that
    point out that your team name is racist and ask you to consider changing it to something less awful. Be pissed about the
    fact that you have zero qualms about working for an organization that supports using an offensive
    picture of a Native person to shill baby onesies and beer cozies.