Posts Tagged ‘Louis Sockalexis’

“Respectful or Disgraceful?” That’s the title of the symposium today from 1-4 p.m. Eastern time at the Public Library in Bangor, Maine.

Four tribes lives within Maine, and several school teams have nicknames like Redskins, Braves, Warriors and Indians. Some of those schools have changed their mascots; others are sticking with them, Eric Russell of the Bangor Daily News reports here. (The News gave the story its own logo, shown at right.) With the issue continuing to have so much prominence around the country, it seems smart of folks in Maine to sit down and talk about it:


    Today’s events will feature three separate panels: one representing Maine’s Native American tribes; another with representatives from schools still using potentially offensive names and symbols and those that have abandoned those names; the third made up of statewide media representatives.

    [College professor Ed] Rice, who is well known for his advocacy of Louis Sockalexis, a Mainer and the first Native American to play Major League Baseball, stressed that the discussion is not meant to be a witch hunt.

    “I think residents are learning that some of these nicknames, while meant to honor, are embarrassing to the state,” Rice said recently. “If you can’t yell out your nickname, don’t you know you have a problem?”

While the American Indian Cultural Support organization lists 31 schools in Maine with a racially insensitive mascot, Rice found that 18 of those have done away with their nicknames and four others have kept them but no longer use them on their uniforms.

Russell has written a really good, comprehensive story on the issue, not just as it plays out in Maine, but nationally. Check it out.

Gwen Florio

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Columnist on the curse of the Indians

   Posted by: buffalo_post    in Penobscot, Sports, Stereotyping

Cleveland Indians fans with Chief Wahoo signs. (AP photo)

Cleveland Indians fans with Chief Wahoo signs. (AP photo)

The Cleveland Indians, that is.

Ed Rice of Orono, Maine, wrote “Baseball’s First Indian, Louis Sockalexis” in 2003 and “Native Trailblazer, Andrew Sockalexis” in 2008 and he’s long championed a change in team nicknames and mascots – starting with the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo.

The name, he writes in this column for the Bangor (Maine) Daily News, supposedly “honors” Louis Sockalexis, who was Penobscot from Maine, who is generally considered the first Native American to have played Major League baseball, in 1897.

As he writes:

Louis Sockalexis

Louis Sockalexis

    …Why do they make players of color wear a symbol they would never consider wearing if it represented a person of their own race? Why do they make any player with a conscience wear something he can’t possibly be comfortable about appearing in public wearing? My own personal “Field of Dreams” moment for the Cleveland franchise would be the arrival of a player with conscience who refuses to wear that symbol on his uniform — whether he’s a Native American player, like Jacoby Ellsbury, Joba Chamberlain or Kyle Lohse, or just a player with integrity.”

The Penobscot Tribe has, in a resolution, asked the team to stop using the Chief Wahoo caricature. That was years ago and the franchise has yet to acknowledge that resolution.
Rices urges Maine to set an example for Cleveland by abolishing offensive team nicknames and mascots within the state.

    Native American storyteller and University of Maine Native American Studies program direction John Bear Mitchell once noted to me that I should not focus so much of my energy on national targets — like Sports Illustrated magazine, the Baseball Hall of Fame and the Cleveland Indians — and work to make our state more aware and more proactive on these matters. “It starts from the center of the circle, Ed, not outside it,” he explained.

In the meantime, he urges people to call the Cleveland Indians and demand that they respond to the Penobscot resolution. He supplies the number and we’re happy to reprint it: 216-420-4200.

As Rice says, don’t stop calling until the team responds!

Gwen Florio

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