Americans’ ill-treatment of Native Americans
Since Christopher Columbus has discovered the American lands in the fifteenth century, the relationship between the new comers and the Indian native settlers has been always described as a form of exploitation and colonization. The ill-treatment of the Native Americans by the European explorers is always cited as an evidence of the American colonization of these lands. One of the remaining signs of exploitation and ill-treatment of the Indian Americans can be seen in the spread of Indian American mascots among sports teams, athletics, schools, and universities. Many sports teams prefer to use Indian names, with which to be popular among their fans. The supporters of those Indian American mascots argue that these names stand as positive memorization of the Native Americans, and so, such names should not be banned. However, the opponents of Native Americans mascots argue for the elimination of these names, as many Indian Americans don’t like their names to be used as mascots for sports teams. Actually, Indian American mascots should be eliminated since the association of Indian American names with mascots are inherently humiliating, Indian American themselves reject the use of these mascots, and the sports teams which use these mascots look at Indian Americans as stereotypes.
The use of Indian American mascots by sports teams involves some forms of humiliation for Native Americans. The term mascot essentially involves a connotation of triviality and humiliation of a group of people, who are to be used as mere symbols of luck for its users. According to the definition of ‘mascots’ that is published in Wikipedia, a mascot is “a term for any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck – colloquially includes anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name” (Wikipedia). Therefore, using Indian American names and figures as mascots for sports teams, schools, or universities, denotes the humiliating look with which the American public look at Indian Americans and their origins. Because many US citizens think of the Indian Native people as primitive and uncivilized people, they wrongly believe that those natives can not be benefitial for any thing other than bringing ‘luck’ to sports teans or any other recreation groups. Consequently, the idea of using Native American mascots is a reflection of the negative image that are used to be associated with those natives, shaping their relationships with other citizens in the United States.
In addition, the use of Indian American mascots should be eliminated since the Indian Americans themselves oppose this practice. Logically, Native Americans are the ones who should have the right to interpret any imagery, symbols, or mascots that use their names, and decode and analyze their meanings. This is because the Native Americans are the sole subjects of these imagery or mascots. If the majority of those Native Americans do not like their names and images to be used as mascots, these mascots should be eliminated in a response to these objections. According to Rose Mandel, “the Indian chief mascot is a form of racial discrimination and shows blatant disrespect for Native Americans” (Mandel); that’s why many Indian Americans think of the Native American school mascot as “offensive and demeaning” (Mandel). Accordingly, sports teams and other students groups should respond positively to the calls of most Indian Americans and stop using Native American mascots. The main reason behind the rejection of most Indian Americans to be used as mascots is that they believe these mascots to be an embodiment of the stereotypical images that are used towards Native Americans. For instance, the use of a Native American Name for a certain sports team inherently reflects the belief of this team that a Native American is a symbol of savageness and brutality, which are needed in sports to ‘win’ over the opponent. In that sense, using an Indian American mascot reflects the negative image that American citizens have about Native Americans. As argued by many Native Americans, “it is the stereotype of Native Americans as bloodthirsty savage that led nonnatives to choose Native American mascots for sport” (Davis). Therefore, Native American mascots should be eliminated in order to abolish any practices that involve looking at Native Americans as stereotypes.
Despite the fact that this age of European exploration and discovery was always praised by history textbooks, it has some dark aspects due to the ill-treatment of the natives by the explorers. Initially, as the new comers reached the new found lands, they used to well-treat them to win their trust and confidence and not to resist their arrival. However, this initial period came to an end after wealth and resources were discovered, especially gold and silver. Consequently, the age of European exploitation began as the new comers started to move all the wealthy resources to their lands and exploit the natives. This led many historians to believe that “exploration turned to exploitation” of the natives (Kreis). In this context many examples are narrated by historians to prove the ill-treatment of the natives by the new comers. For example, Steven Kreis, in his article which is entitled “The Age of Discovery” cites the following example to expose the exploitation practiced by the Europeans towards the native Americans:” during the second voyage of Columbus in 1494, and while at Hispaniola, one of his captains collected 1500 Indians and held them captive. Five hundred were taken on board Spanish ships and 200 died at sea. Others were treated cruelly by the Spanish — the first armed conflict between Indians and Europeans occurred in March 1495″ (Kreis). As a result, it can be argued that the age of discovery and exploration has some defects for the new found lands, as the natives of these lands were severely exploited by the new comers. Some of the forms of exploitation during that era included slavery, population decline, and culture elimination.
In conclusion, when Columbus arrived at the New World, he implemented policies of slavery and mass extermination of the Taino population of the Caribbean. As a result, within a short period of time, millions were dead. Also, there were many accounts of horrors, practiced by the Spanish colonists towards the native population. These accounts include hanging them en mass, hacking their children into pieces to be used as dog feed, and other horrid cruelties. On the other hand, the European presence introduced a number of strange diseases during this era that American Indians had no natural immunity against. The native population suffered enormous losses. It has been said that more native people died due to foreign diseases than were lost in wars fighting for their homelands.
- Kreis, Steven. “The Age of Discovery.” 12 May 2004. <http://www.historyguide.org/earlymod/lecture2c. html>
- “Mascots.” Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. 27 Mar. 2009. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mascot>
- Parry, J. H. “The Age of Reconnaissance: Discovery, Exploration, and Settlement – 1450-1650.” Phoenix Press. 1963
- “Stoics and Epicureans” 15 Aug. 2005. <http://ise.uvic.ca/Library/SLT/history/brutus+1.html>
- Washburn, Wilcomb E. “The Age of Discovery.” American Historical Association Publication. Number 63. 1966. pp. 1-26. <http://muweb.millersville.edu/~columbus/data/ art/WASHBR05.ART>