Sunday, January 27, 2019

We Have A Name, Bestowed By Skowhegan So-Called Indian Pride: We Are Changers!

Brewer High School's mascot logo

Organizing for social change can be tiring. Especially in Maine, where 50% of our winter plans go astray as the weekly (or twice weekly) storms brought on by climate change necessitate canceling events like a door to door campaign. As an organizer I often have several precious hours already invested in an event that gets snowed out.

So that is one of the reasons that local people don't often take a leading role in changing the Skowhegan Area High School mascot from pretendians to something fun and inoffensive. Osprey anyone? (I think it's most likely they will change to Patriots, but any mascot based on human beings is likely to be problematic.)

This is a comment thread on SIP leader and conflict-of-interest board member Jennifer Poirier's post about the Skowhegan girls basketball team beating the Brewer High School Witches. I am going to assume that Mary Compton calling them "ho" is a typo and that she meant to type "go." I am also going to assume that Mindy Gilbert doesn't know that there is a sizeable Wiccan community in our area, one that proudly draws on what they call "Old Traditions of Witchcraft," and that some members may very well be offended by Brewer's mascot.

Probably Mindy did not major in history, and thus may be only dimly aware that many alleged witches were tortured to death in New England. There are towns like Salem, Massachsetts that have built an entire tourist industry on this history.

The real point here is that SIP folks think it is hilarious to offend people.

And, to return to my original point, it is exhausting trying to reason with people who find it fun to offend. For white people like me, there is the option to walk away from the problem muttering that you can't fix stupid. But it isn't stupidity, it's ignorance. And not knowing is an entirely different thing from not being capable of understanding.

Consider this SIP post in the same thread, from a political theorist posting as Joseph Pais:

Pais has a Facebook profile that includes a MAGA hat child pissing on the word Hillary (Clinton, presumably) from 2016, so it would appear that his analytical chops have developed over the last couple of years.

"Leaving race out of the argument they [changers] have no foundation to stand on" starts down a strategic path that does afford some insight. White man says: we refuse to talk about race. That's white privilege in a nutshell.

White privilege turns the corner to white supremacy when it says: "that's when you see the real racist in this argument come out."

They are talking about Penobscot tribal ambassador Maulian Dana here, whom they have demonized to the point where I'm surprised Joseph Pais hasn't photoshopped his MAGA hat meme to swap out Hillary for Maulian. It's likely that some in SIP have thought about it.

However, they have a mole in their closed Facebook group, and they know for certain that an image like that would turn up not only in this blog but also in newspapers and t.v. channels in Maine.

Pretending that Maulian "stands alone" despite the enormous turnout of Native people from several Wabanaki tribes, and that she is just doing it for attention, are common themes for SIP.

The reference above alleging that she "doesn't keep her word" means this, I think: the school board voted 11-9 in 2015 to keep using the racist mascot, and the SIP folks imagined that Maulian and the other changers had agreed to slink away, silenced, if the school board vote went against them.

Key point from Jennifer's post above: it's not the institutionalized racism that is causing turmoil, it's commenting on the racism. White silence is required to maintain the status quo. Got it.

Would it surprise you to know that some changers on the board were threatened with physical harm because they voted to retire the Indian mascot? Some had the courage and good enough health to continue serving on the school board anyway. Not all have been up to the continuous, arduous task.

In fact, Not Your Mascot chapters in Maine and throughout North America have made it perfectly clear that they will not be silenced. And that they will not go away until all the Native mascots and team names are in the dustbin of history.

I stand with them. And I'm not going away either, no matter how weary I get.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

A Perfect Storm Of U.S. Political Extremism, Calmed By Homegrown Indigenous Wisdom

The story of what happened between MAGA hats and Native elders in our nation's capital last week turns out to be weirder than my post yesterday indicated.

A perfect storm of U.S. political extremism was brewing on January 18 at the Lincoln memorial.

First of all, Native people had come to Washington for the first ever Indigenous Peoples March. Organizing under the climate change slogan, "If the waters are rising, then so must we," and bringing attention to the crisis of missing and murdered indigenous women and girls, their presence was healing and wise. You can read coverage of that event here.

Next, a radical Christian group called Black Hebrew Israelites -- which the Southern Poverty Law Center tracks as a hate group -- began preaching their aggressive brand of monotheism. You can see them and hear them in this video made on January 18.

You can hear them mocking Native people for "worshiping totem poles" (?!), eagles, buffalo and other forms of what they characterize as "idolatry."

They also claim Natives lost their land because of their incorrect spiritual practices and beliefs (which the Israelites give every indication of near total ignorance of).

Screenshot from video

A couple of women approach them and clap back. One is led gently away by an elder woman. The other resists another woman's attempt to turn her away. She persists offering education and a reasoned argument until the Israelites begin dissing her for being a female who uses her voice.

Meanwhile, a knot of MAGA hat boys is gathering; they have been bused in from Kentucky's Covington Catholic High School to attend an annual event aimed at denying women and girls access to reproductive health care.

As the Israelite group and the MAGA hats become more confrontational and agitated, Native elder Nathan Phillips steps between the two groups with his drum. According to his own account, he attempts to climb the steps of the Lincoln memorial intending to pray from that vantage point, but he is blogged by a grinning 16 year old who won't let him pass.

Nathan keeps drumming and is joined by another drummer as the crowd of boys chant "build the wall" and jump around mocking the Native prayer song demonstration. They also offer their political views, as nurtured by their politicized religious education.

Some viewers say they see chaperones behind the large group of boys.

So we have religious fanatics, white supremacists, and Native people still in possession of their non-coercive system of spiritual beliefs. An elder peacekeeper who was in the military during the Vietnam War era and who doesn't believe in walls, doesn't believe in prisons. (Thank you, Nathan Phillips.)

Photo credit: Perez Hilton

Some of the questions I'm left with: who bought all the matching MAGA gear for the teenage boys? Why weren't they in school on a Friday?

Who knew I would find common ground with a group preaching that I'm headed for eternal damnation because I don't worship Yahweh? (The Hebrew Israelites are angry, as I am, about the federal government shutdown.)

A more comprehensive account of the day with additional videos can be seen here on Indian Country Today.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Indigenous Wisdom, White Boys' Bullshit, Defined My Yesterday

Graphic credit: Native Lives Matter

Yesterday was an interesting day full of indigenous wisdom and white boys' bullshit.

(There was a lot of white people's wisdom, too, and Black wisdom, and young women's wisdom, too, so keep reading.)

I had been invited to Waterville, Maine to share the words my sister Hope wrote for the Skowhegan school board meeting back in November, asking them to retire their "Indian" mascot. Hope's poetic speech, "I Listened," has now been viewed over 7,000 times on this blog. It was well-received in Waterville.

My former colleague and friend Maryellen Dunn had helped organize an Equality Rally and it was held despite bitter cold. We heard from 4th and 5th grade girls who belong to the Albert Hall Elementary School Civil Rights Team. We heard from high school girls who had attended the Seeds of Peace camp.

Photo credit: Maryellen Dunn
Amaryllis Charles, a Waterville High School student, was especially memorable describing what it's like to be a lone Black girl in white central Maine, and how the camp helped her find her voice.

There were several excellent speakers, and you can read more about them here in the Portland Press Herald article by Meg Robbins, "Waterville Equality Rally aims to foster community compassion."

My photo, taken with permission
The rally ended with the strong spiritual presence of Native women elders who shared their drumming and singing. 

Tracey Tinyhouse Elohi, indentified in the newspaper as a Cherokee woman, who works as a "wildlife rehabber" for Maine fish and other critters, brought her drum and her strong voice. Along with her elders, her songs reminded me that by standing in Waterville we were standing in indigenous territory.

Then, I came home to this horrifying display of bullying and mockery at the Indigenous Peoples March in Washington DC from Friday.

Screenshot from YouTube video "Indigenous Peoples March in Washington DC" posted by KC Noland

A large group of Catholic high school boys who had been bused in to attend an anti-abortion rally began jeering at, mocking and physically confronting some Native men who were drumming and singing.

You can hear Nathan Phillips, one of the men the boys targeted, talking afterwards about what happened here on CNN: "Native American man harassed and mocked by teens speaks out."

Covington Catholic High School appears to have shut down its email account (mine bounced back) but you can still contact the Catholic diocese in Kentucky that runs the school at this link: Or telephone them at (859) 491-2247.

As an educator watching teenage white boys acting out in public, here's what I wrote:

Covington Catholic High School
Covington Archdiocese of Kentucky
1125 Madison Ave.
Covington, KY 41011 

To whom it may concern:
The nation has been shocked and appalled by the behavior of the students of Covington Catholic High School during their field trip to Washington DC. I refer to this video evidence of their harassment of a group of indigenous people performing a song.

As an educator myself, I know that it can be difficult to supervise teenagers on field trips. I'm not sure what the boys were in Washington DC to learn, but it's clear that there is a pressing need to address their moral education. Can the the Diocese do no better than this at educating young boys?

I urge you to investigate this incident and, in the future, to do better by these students.
Lisa Savage

A comment on Facebook provided the current events context for the boys' bad behavior.

Indigenous wisdom built no walls, jails, or reform schools. Native people seemed to understand far better than European colonizers how to respect autonomy and raise children without coercion. I am grateful to keep learning from them.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

White Privilege On Display In Skowhegan Mascot Controversy Is Ugly

White privilege on display in the Skowhegan mascot controversy has not been particularly appealing.

Firstly, there is the business owned and operated by an actual member of the school board that oversees Skowhegan Area High School and its team names. Maine Fire Equipment owner Todd Smith advertises many products with the name and cartoonish depictions of "Indian" human beings on them.

Screenshot from Maine Fire Equipment website provided by Ann McMichael
I shared some of the racist imagery from their website in an open letter I wrote to both Smiths (wife Karen is on the board also) pointing out that they might have a financial interest in voting on issues related to the team name/mascot. I later found out that both of them had in fact voted against holding a public forum on the mascot issue which took place on January 8.

The only feedback I got from the board or this local business is that Todd's employee Jessica Pinkham asked politely that I take down the screenshot with her elementary school age daughter wearing an Indians scarf. And I did that on my online post of the letter. (A redacted version of my screenshot can be seen above.)

So, it's okay for a white parent to use her child's photo to sell merchandise that is harmful to other people's children, but it's not okay to use the child's photo in an argument about why board members who profit from selling racist merchandise are unqualified to vote on the issue. Got it.

The Skowhegan "Indian Pride" group has made it abundantly clear that they feel is also okay to disregard and even insult Native parents who argue that the stereotyping represented by continued use of mascot is harmful to their children.

Several of them called the Penobscot Nation tribal office this week to demanding to speak to "someone with a brain" i.e. not the tribal ambassador Maulian Dana. SIP leader Jennifer Poirier, also a board member, emailed Penboscot chief Kirk Francis to say that the tribe would be subject to a lawsuit unless he reined in Maulian on the mascot retirement campaign.

Then came the comment thread on this article by Doug Harlow about a bill introduced in the new legislature sponsored by Rep. Ben Collings, An Act to Ban Native American Mascots in Maine Schools (LR 2188). I was quoted in the article saying that a lot more education about Maine Native history and culture is needed in Skowhegan. This is a screenshot from part of the thread:

Disclaimer: I do not now nor have I ever had "something to do" with the prestigious summer residency art program founded by, among others, the late social realist artist Ben Shahn.

Another disclaimer: I am unaware of any effort to change the team name to Savage's [sic], as was alleged by this Facebook post with an unidentified photo of gratuitous violence (presumably committed by Natives because of the arrows?).

The reason that violent language and imagery is dangerous is that hearing hate speech primes your brain for hateful actions. 

A study by cognitive psychologists at at Arizona State University goes a long way toward explaining a persistent aspect of hate crimes: they are virtually always preceded by hate speech. Rehearsing an act of violence activates the very same neural pathways in the brain as actually committing the same act of violence. Thus, all genocides are preceded by a long campaign of violent language against the targeted group.

Fragile white people will no doubt attack me again for using the r-word to describe their actual cultural appropriation of the images and ceremonial objects of people that survived attempted genocide.

More education is also needed about white privilege -- why it exists, and how it works.

For those interested in learning more than they know, here's a good place to start. "White fragility: why it's so hard to talk to white people about racism" by Dr. Robin DiAngelo can be read and pondered at The Good Men Project website.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Now That Their Public Forum Overwhelmingly Rejected The Mascot, What Lies Ahead For Skowhegan?

Penobscot Youth Council members drove through an ice storm to be present for the Skowhegan mascot public forum.
Photo credit: Jeff Kirlin
Continuing my report back on the January 8 public forum, I want to say that Albie Barden was a particularly memorable speaker. Pursuing a "show, don't tell" strategy, Barden stepped to the mic not to call for more education about Native culture in our area, but to actually provide some.

Albie Barden  Photo credit: Jeff Kirlin
Barden honored his ancestors by carrying his father's garden hoe, one he still uses. Then he honored the bounty of the Earth by bringing flint corn and a local bean variety, both grown thousands of years ago locally. He also brought some salmon, a traditional food from the Kennebec River before it was dammed. He offered the board and everyone in the audience enough seed corn to grow it themselves, and spoke of his vision of everyone doing that. He modeled gratitude and respect. But, and this is important: he never claimed to be an Indian.

Penobscot member Skyler Lewie, 15, telling the board they cannot possibly know what it feels like to be in her shoes.
Photo: Jeff Kirlin
Overall, the strategic reach of the speakers for retirement was broad and deep. Some pointed out the moral imperative to respect others as we ourselves wish to be respected. Some pointed out the legal dangers of a publicly funded school system clinging to discriminatory practices. Some pointed out the economic dangers of doing things that are illegal.

Student Kayla Dickinson pointed out that racially motivated bullying at Skowhegan Area High School is a daily byproduct of a racist mascot being tolerated.

Dickinson reminded the board that students deserve a safe learning environment, and scolded the board for not providing that.

Several students pointed out how hard it is to play sports for teams perceived as racist throughout the state. 

Skowhegan Area Middle School student Carly McCabe told the board that running cross country as a "so-called Skowhegan Indian is embarrassing" and that she is further embarrassed because the board has done nothing about the mascot problem.
Photo credit: Jeff Kirlin

Some provided history lessons on the Norridgewock massacre in the 1700s, and some provided information on the effects of the mass removal of Native children from their families in the 1970s. Some provided citations for studies demonstrating the harm of Native mascots on young people's confidence and educational outcomes. Some listed the many, many education and psychology organizations on record opposing Native mascots.

(If this embedded video of the entire public forum does not work for you, you can view it here on YouTube.)

Interestingly, nobody spoke to an ongoing informal boycott both of business displaying Skowhegan Indian Pride signage, and of the town itself. Based on social media postings I've seen, there are numerous people who vote with their pocketbooks and decline to shop or dine there these days. Sadly, Skowhegan's identity as a sinkhole of racism is pretty well established by now and it will take years to undo it.

But, there are some glimmers of hope on the horizon.

Still from DAWNLAND.
Click here to download a free PDF of the DAWNLAND Viewer’s Guide.

A local arts council is working out a plan to screen the documentary DAWNLAND so people in Skowhegan can learn more about how the state of Maine treated Native families when I was in college.

You can also see DAWNLAND today, January 12, at 11am on Maine Public Broadcasting's Independent Lens.

Also, Showing Up For Racial Justice (SURJ) central Maine chapter is looking into organizing a door knocking campaign similar to one I participated in last year in Augusta (you can read about that here).

There are lots of other ideas floating around, too. The time is right to move in a positive direction.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Adelle Belanger On The Racist Backlash After Skowhegan Mascot Public Forum

Screenshot from Somerset Community TV 11 video of Jan. 8 forum

With permission from the author, today I share Adelle Belanger's report back on the racist backlash she experienced and witnessed following her testimony at the January 8 public forum on the Skowhegan Area High School "Indian" mascot. Belanger is a senior at SAHS.

Full video of the forum, including her remarks which begin at the 8:52 mark, may be seen here on YouTube. Thanks to Somerset Community television 11 for their coverage.

Today, my Indigenous classmate was called a c*nt for sharing her opinion on HER school's mascot.
Today, I read racist comments first hand, and called out people who insisted that I was a liberal troll.
Today, I saw white people claim to be Native to say they are not offended by the mascot.
Today, I saw people commenting that my friend who is a reporter should jump in a lake for reporting accurately on the public forum about the mascot.
Today, I saw people claim that two Natives I look up to and respect were ignorant pot stirrers and that they were the real racists.
Today, I saw some of the meanest comments I've ever seen. And trust me, I've seen some mean ones.
Today, I heard people say that all four of Maine's federally recognized tribes were oversensitive crybabies who had nothing better to focus on. All four of them.
Today, I gave people evidence they ignored.
Today, I explained myself over and over, just because I know it's the right thing to do, even if it will not change any minds.
Today, I saw people say that they didn't care how Natives feel about the mascot.
Today, I was so drained. I can not imagine what it must be like for people who can not get away from this. I have the option not to post. I have the option not to engage. The mascot affects my life very little. I am so saddened to think of the people who can't escape this. The Natives who have to explain themselves over and over. The people who get ridiculed for defending themselves and their culture.
For my friends that are still on the fence, I ask you to look at the type of people who are unwilling to change. If you don't support change, you are not honoring Native Americans.
Look at your heroes. What side would they be on? Martin Luther King Jr., Gandhi, the likes. Who would they support?
-- Adelle Belanger, class of 2019, Skowhegan Area High School
originally posted January 9, 2018

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Future Is Female, Youthful, And Includes A Retired Mascot That Has Not Aged Well

The public forum to consider retiring the "Indian" mascot in Skowhegan was held last night in the midst of an ice storm following on the heels of a snowstorm. Many sensible folks stayed home rather than drive in that mess, and one who missed it was Lily Stark. Lily is an 8 year old racial justice activist who sent this letter to the school board in lieu of appearing:

Kwe Mr. Colbry and the School Board of Skowhegan, 
Taluisi Lily. N’in tleyawi Montague, Massachusetts. Me’tal-wuleyn? Hi my name is Lily. I am from Montague, Massachusetts. How are you? 
I am eight years old and I go to Sheffield Elementary School. My town used to be the Indians before we moved here. My town changed their mascot in February 2017. This makes me very happy because I would not want to be a student here with people making fun of my culture. I would be scared to go to school if there was still a mascot here. People don’t understand that I was L’Nu from when I was born and I am every day. This is my life and my culture it’s not something make-pretend. I do not understand why people want to take my culture and make-pretend with it. It doesn’t make you anything at all but a person playing dress-up. Grown-ups I think also know that it is wrong to take things that don’t belong to you even if you make an excuse. I would get in big trouble if I took something that belonged to somebody else and my Mom would make me return it and say I’m sorry.
How come some people are not saying sorry but are being mean instead? I don’t understand this especially the mean part.

You can say Well she is just a kid what does she know? I know that I am Indian and my ancestors were Indian and my kids will be Indian because that is who we are for real not because it is the name of a sport team. You will still be who you are no matter what your sports team is called. You will be good people if you stop with using a name that belongs to real people who are alive and tell you that it is not right. Please be good people so that real Indian kids are not hurt because that is what you are doing and grown ups should care about kids. Wela'lin thank you.
Your friend,
Lily Sparks

Don't you just want to hug this wonderful kid?

Here's a picture that her mom, Sky Davis, shared with the comment, "This isn't her first foray into speaking out against racism."

"...Lily Sparks, Northamption City Hall during a rally held in support of Oumou Kanoute, a 19-year-old Smith College student who...suffered through a racial bias incident at the school in July. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS" from the Daily Hampshire Gazette

Local tween girls at the podium in Skowhegan included 11 year old Natalie Cooke who rocked the house reminding the school board to do the right thing. Sisters standing together was kind of a theme last night as Natalie was followed by big sister Annie Cooke, a senior high school athlete who described how troubled she feels each time she is referred to as an Indian while competing in sports.

Natalie Cooke, mom Morrigan Knox McLeod and daughter Ava McLeod all asked the board to retire the mascot.

My great nieces Leah and Sydalia Savage also went to the microphone together.

College freshman Leah introduced her younger sister, who stood with Leah while she read her excellent letter to the board (which you can see here). As the kind of athlete that makes headlines, Leah may have more influence with sports-minded board members than some of the other teen speakers.

Adelle Belanger should also be an influential voice; currently a senior at SAHS, she spoke about her experiences at Girls State last year representing "the racist school" (her excellent letter to the editor about this can be read here). We also heard from female members of the school's civil rights team, a drama student whose name I did not get, and the powerful Skyler Lewey of the Wabanaki Youth Council.

Oh, but she was from away. Not. We are all on indigenous territory!

It was easy to see how things were trending from 5pm when sign ups to speak opened. The line was long at the change table, and nonexistent at the no change table. 

The board had hired a moderator who kept things moving but the meeting still lasted three hours. We heard from alternating sides until the 11 folks resisting change had all spoken and there were still 60 or so signed up to advocate for change.

Around 200 people attended. In an ice storm.

School civil rights teams were out in force, and one advisor, Karin Leuthy, had been in touch with another district that retired a Native mascot. She asked them what they would have done differently and their superintendent said two things: we shouldn't have waited so long, and we should have done more education to help students understand why Native mascots are harmful.

I hope you are listening, Mr. Colbry (Brent Colbry is superintendent of MSAD 54).

Not Your Mascot Maine chapter leader Maulian Dana and Wabanaki youth wore red to show solidarity with missing or murdered Native girls and women. Indigenous females are subject to disproportionate rates of violence which is often never investigated as a crime.

Some of the indigenous luminaries on hand last night were Maulian Dana and Barry Dana (daughter and father, in regalia), the Wabanaki Youth Council, Sherri Mitchell (video here), Amelia Tuplin, and Peter Baldwin. John Bear Mitchell galvanized the crowd by pointing out that board members as individuals can be liable for paying damages if they continue a discriminatory practice after notification.

Dwayne Tomah electrified the crowd early on by appearing in regalia and speaking first in Passamoquoddy (video here). He got a long standing ovation following his two minutes as the mic. "As an indigenous person, I'm not feeling honored. At all."

I meet the nicest people while working for peace and racial justice here in Maine.  I'll post more later about this amazing forum. The tide is clearly turning!

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Skowhegan Field Hockey's Leah Savage: It's Past Time To Retire The Mascot

"Skowhegan goalie Leah Savage makes a save on a shot from Messalonskee forward Chloe Tilley, right, during a Class A North game. Staff photo by Michael G. Seamans"  Photo from Waterville Morning Sentinel

I am thrilled to share this statement by a member of my extended family. If you're from Skowhegan, Leah probably needs no introduction. If not, read on. Her statement will be read at tonight's public forum.

"Skowhegan's Leah Savage competes in the girls triple jump event at the Class A track and field state championships Saturday in Bath. Portland Press Herald photo by John Ewing"

My name is Leah Savage and I was a student athlete at Skowhegan Area High School. By the time I graduated in 2018, I had earned two state titles as the goalie for the field hockey team, multiple conference recognitions for both field hockey and track, three most valuable track athlete awards, and in my senior year was named female athlete of the year.
I now continue my athletic career at Adelphi University as the starting field hockey goalie. My point in sharing these accomplishments is not to boast of my high school glory, but to show that I was a successful member of the Skowhegan athletic community.
I hold a lot of respect and gratitude for the programs I was offered by the Skowhegan school system, however I attribute absolutely none of my success or pride to the Indian mascot this district so blindly holds on to. I choose to place my “pride” in the administrators, coaches, and supporters of Skowhegan.  In fact, the realization that so many members of this community insist on holding such prehistoric views makes me resent the programs that have brought me so far.  

I carefully chose the word “prehistoric” because we are in the 21st century. It is literally 2019 and here you all are fighting about whether or not we should keep as a mascot a name given to Native American people that, first of all, isn’t even geographically correct, and second of all, is offensive. I recognize the argument, “Why does this need to be changed now when it has always been the mascot?” or “This change has been voted against so many times already” but that is just the point. It has been so many years of throwing this to the side, and turning a blind eye to a group of people that has already been given the short end of the stick time and time again since the birth of this country.
It is important to understand this is not a new fight brought on by a bunch of liberals.
We are, as my former Enrichment Resources teacher would say, missing the bus when we could have been driving it.
To explain this to people who were not lucky enough to be taught by Mr. Ross, I mean that we are sitting behind behind and watching a movement that we could have led. Schools all over the United States have have been voting against Indian mascots for almost 50 years now. I know everyone has heard of Stanford University, but perhaps you aren’t aware that their mascot was an Indian until 1972 when it was changed to the Cardinals. This is far from a new fight.  

I do understand that many people here hold pride for our town's mascot, however,  I am afraid that this “pride” claimed by some of you in a Native American mascot has been horribly lost, and is now only in your side's imagination.
I cannot understand why actively offending an entire group is not enough to say that enough is enough.
Now I do know that there is a very large possibility I am incorrect in that statement. I am just an 18 year old kid, and I hope that you do prove me wrong. I hope that we can overlook our personal agendas and see the bigger picture. And with this pride that we hold for the Native American people we can learn and teach more about their history in this area, as well as the rest of the country. Because I will admit that I, like many of you, know far too little about Native Americans for someone who grew up in a town where we wore t shirts with pictures of them on the front.  

Let us make 2019 the year that we get on that bus. 
Thank you.