Tuesday, July 14, 2020

The Legacy of Harm

One of the exhibits that was at the National Museum of the American Indian last year talked about the battle of Little BigHorn aka the battle of the Greasy Grass looked at how the mainstream media at the time reported on the battle, how Crazy Horse was treated as a hero, interviewed, memorialized in painting and memorabilia.  And how Crazy Horse and other tribal leaders surrendered to the US Army a year later.  Not too long after Crazy Horse was arrested and died.  Libbie Custer however was still alive, and worked hard to change the narrative about her husband.  She worked to change him from a fool who got his column massacred, she worked to cast him as a valiant soldier who wasn't afraid to die to protect the land he loved. 
Why am I thinking about this today.  Well this week, the Washington football team announced that it was retiring the name.  I applaud those who have been fighting for this change for about fifty or so years. I even am willing to offer some applause to the various corporations who in the last few months suddenly realized they too were supporting racism.  
I am ever hopeful that they are not planning on something like the warriors.   Or birds.  (I hate bird teams.  And if you haven't noticed how many bird teams "accidentally" riff on native iconography, well, I invite you to take a moment to consider that.)  
The harm done by years of this racist team name with it's racist logo and racist fight song and racist mascot will not be fixed this year.  The ideas that the indigenous peoples of what we now call America were all good at cooking and good at fighting, and are basically all dead now, oopsie, elides much of who those people are and were.  
Oh and also, Kansas, Atlanta, Chicago, Cleveland, and many others, don't think we've forgotten about you.