DIRTY KANZA - #CHANGETHENAME
This petition had 1,316 supporters
#ChangetheName is a campaign to end the use of the slur “dirty Kanza” as the event name of DIRTY KANZA in Emporia, KS. Launched by Cyclista Zine, the campaign calls upon the owners of the "DK", organizers, and sponsors to do the right thing and bring an end to the use of the racial epithet.
For many indigenous people, their race or culture is not a name or costume they can take off at the end of the day, but rather something that is both a source of pride and a source of oppression. Native people have fought and are still fighting for the right to exist on their lands and participate in an equal playing field where their identity and sovereignty is respected.
Kanza is the official name for the Kaw people, contrary to popular sources and belief. According to “The Kaw People” by Dr. William Unrau, in 1673 Father Jacques Marquette’s map maker recorded a Kansa village and in 1861 the state of Kansas took its name from this first irrefutable historical reference without even asking the Kanza people for approval. They are the “People of the South Wind,” who lived in Kansas long before white settlers arrived. The Kanza were the predominant tribe in what became the state to which they gave their name (Kansas), also taken without permission. Their territory extended over most of present-day northern and eastern Kansas, where DK rides through broken treaty land.
History tells us that the Lewis and Clark expedition had a devastating effect on the Kaw. As more settlers moved west, the Kaws presented an obstacle to westward land grab expansion. While the Kaw attempted to maintained control of the lower Kansas valley against settlers, a succession of broken treaties sought to grab the Kaw nations land that forced them onto Oklahoma Indian Territory, legally obliterating the tribe, language, culture, and land until federal reorganization in 1959.
The Kaw Nation of Kansas, now of Oklahoma, has survived adversity and today is a federally-recognized self-governing tribe seeking to recover its cultural heritage and land. To preface Kanza people with “Dirty” shows a disconnect of the history of place, violence, and colonization that has been justified with terms like "dirty" that is connected to America’s Legacy of anti-Indigenous violence.
The term "dirty" was used by colonizers to describe Indian bodies as inherently “dirty.” Colonizers called Native people “the dirtiest lot of human beings on earth.” They described Indians as dressed in “filthy rags, with their persons unwashed, hair uncombed and swarming with vermin.” In the colonial worldview, only “clean” and “pure” bodies deserve to be protected from violence. Violence done to “dirty” or “impure” bodies simply does not count. Because Indian bodies were seen as “dirty,” they were deemed "rapable" "scalpable" and to be "removed" from the their land. The practice of calling Native bodies "dirty" make it clear that colonizers did not think Indian people deserve bodily integrity and validated settler colonial violence and racism.
While it's become commonplace to witness a public display of bigoted and offensive language, mascots, team names, and cultural appropriation and misrepresentation of Native culture, people fail to take into account the hundreds of years of racial hatred towards Native people and how the desensitizing of that hatred, racism, and discrimination by our society hurts Natives today.
Xavier University Professor David Rider said, "Negative images and attitudes toward American Indians have served precisely the same function: To protect the historical oppressors from a sense of guilt over the atrocities committed against Indians and to justify further exploitation."
Unfortunately, prefacing DIRTY to KANZA does that.
We've been told by insiders that event organizers, sponsors, and event owners have been notified of the problematic nature of the event name and do not act. Whether it’s ignorance of the harm, micro-aggressions, appropriation, stereotypes, subtle or overt, they all are harmful. Non-Natives do not get to define or decide what is or isn’t racist or harmful to Native people or the degree of relevance of certain issues, only Natives can.
Native American peoples from ocean to ocean have long experiences with twisted words, meanings and thinking, and also recognize patterns of a past that do not need to be repeated. This issue is part of Native solidarity of reclamation and protection of sovereign identity and good name that are ongoing in Native nations today.
Help us #ChangeTheName by signing our petition and learn about the impact of "dirty" to First Nations.
To non-Natives who really want to honor Natives: invite tribal members and leaders to your events, listen to them about honoring the land you ride on, clean up your trash, support them, and don’t appropriate their cultures. If you appreciate Native cultures, center their voices and buy from Native companies and artists. Acknowledge the lands, learn the tribe whose land you now live on. Work to make the daily exclusion of the original stewards representation in your community not normal. Work to bringing their representation in cycling media. They're there, just need a platform.
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