Ban Wearing Headdresses at East Coweta High & Educate Students on Native American Culture!

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H Lee
H Lee signed this petition

East Coweta High School has a blatantly stereotypical mascot: an Indian (or Native American) person. The goal of this petition is to receive enough signatures to be able to advocate for education on Native American cultures (The Great Plains Indians & the Coweta/Creek Nations). Another goal of this petition is to initiate a school-wide ban on students/staff wearing headdresses & other Indian garb.

Here's why this matters:

For so long, Native American people have been oppressed and culturally appropriated. From Disney movies like Pocahontas to sports team's culturally insensitive mascot names and figures, Indians have not been portrayed in a modern, sensitive way. Often, these portrayals contribute to Native Americans feeling undignified and disrespected. Since the 1970s, American Indians have called for there to be a change. A change that would get rid of harmful stereotypes for good. As students who are activists for racial justice and are against harmful cultural appropriation, we should stand with the Cherokee, Coweta, and Great Plains Indians and educate ourselves to be sensitive to the things we say and normalize. 

At ECHS, the Great Plains Indian stereotype, which is EC's (East Coweta High AND Middle) mascot, contributes to a long line of dehumanization of Native American people that comes with the cultural appropriation that takes place in our school. The mascot associates the Great Plains Indians with sports teams and school buildings rather than to their own culture. Not only that, but small things such as the constant use of feathers, spearheads, totem poles, and headdresses also restrict the way people perceive American Indians. Furthermore, a mascot is supposed to bring pride and positive feelings; when multiple Native American nations say that these mascots allot negative notation to their culture, there is something wrong about continuing to keep such symbols for an institution without knowing the meanings and history of the Cherokee, Coweta, and Great Plains Indians. 

We, as a student body, do not have the right to use these symbols and imagery as our mascot. Though it may be part of East Coweta's history, this is in no way an excuse to continue to use it. The Indigenous people have history and culture too, yet we are residing in their land, profiting off their customs, and abusing their image. If we are able to educate ourselves in a way that we respectfully view and use these symbols, it is acceptable.

Because completely getting rid of the Indian mascot may cause erasure of the little remnants of Native American culture that we honor, we are opting to mandate education on the history and culture of the Native American people. The knowledge of culture will ultimately allow our school and the student body to make better decisions on phrases, wearing culturally insensitive clothing, and imagery depicted throughout the school building. An added goal is to ban the wearing of headdresses & other "costume-like" Indian garb in school. Because these are a sacred ceremonial item of almost all the Great Plains Indians, wearing one as a non-Native American is disrespectful to the culture. To further understand the significance of the Great Plains headdresses, please click this link, https://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/ , (which is also in sources). 

"So unless you are a native male from a Plains nation who has earned a headdress, or you have been given permission to wear one (sort of like being presented with an honorary degree), then you will have a very difficult time making a case for how wearing one is anything other than disrespectful" - Excerpt from an open letter to the public on why wearing a headdress as a non-native is wrong.

How would we educate the student body?

During the rising 9th grade orientation, there are several days in which new students may go to East Coweta High School and attend the club fairs and visit classrooms. We propose that during said orientation, (each year) the school implement either a stand, dedicate a classroom, have a guest speaker attend this orientation to educate rising 9th graders, or show a video made by the Creek Indians and the school showcasing the main points of the culture and history of local Native American Tribes. By doing so, the school will not have to worry about each group of rising 9th graders for the next 3-4 years. 

If this plan goes through quickly, this years 10-12 graders would not be able to learn about the culture through the above plan. So, we propose that videos (from the Creek Indian Tribe's official website) be shown during homeroom blocks . This video could be sent out to students' email accounts, and/or be shown during homeroom times. 

Further quotes:

Having Native American people as our mascot, creates an “inaccurate conception of Native Americans that’s from the past, [..] confines a group of peoples that is active, and has communities, and is very much alive and well today, as an artifact, rather than as a present group” (Michael Kraus). 

Sign the petition and share with others to help implement action at East Coweta High School! 

The goal is 3,000 signatures before the end of 2020. If the petition reaches its goal, it will be forwarded to Superintendent Evan Horton and to Principal Stephen Allen of East Coweta High School.

 

http://www.ncai.org/proudtobe  
https://blog.nativehope.org/the-feather-symbol-of-high-honor
https://apihtawikosisan.com/hall-of-shame/an-open-letter-to-non-natives-in-headdresses/
https://emergingindigenousvoices.ca/project/cultural-appropriation-crossing-the-line/ 
https://davisclipper.com/mascots-don’t-honor-indigenous-people-p7067-168.htm
https://insights.som.yale.edu/insights/when-the-school-mascot-is-native-american-stereotype
https://www.apa.org/pi/oema/resources/indian-mascots