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Who Gets to Play Indian? By: David Yeagley
FrontPageMagazine.com | Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Indians have been outlawed in California. Jacki Goldberg, the great white “Indian killer,” finally pulled off a coup. The California Assembly just passed a law (AB 858) that will make it illegal for all public schools in the state to use the name “Redskins” in any context, for any reason. No Redskins allowed in Central Valley. 

At least, no white people will be allowed to play Indian anymore. 

But if you have “black” skin, you might get by with it. OutKast, the hip-hop group, performed “Hey Ya” just last week, as they received the Album of the Year award at the Los Angeles Grammy awards. And their “Indian” outfits were more inauthentic and insulting to Indians than any mascot that has ever been banned. 

Did Assembly member Ms. Goldberg not write up that law quite accurately? Is there some confusion over who can play Indian and who can’t?  

Goldberg has been trying to ban the use of American Indian names, mascots, and logos for two years. In 2002, she couldn’t find enough Indians to protest. But Indians simply weren’t offended. Later, her AB 2115 called for the elimination of any name or image that could possibly be associated with American Indians, like “chiefs,” “warriors,” and even “braves.” When it was voted down, Indian students and tribal elders of the Pala Reservation rejoiced. Their Fallbrook Union High School has used the name “Warriors” since 1936. 

But Goldberg is relentless. She doesn’t want a single visible sign of Indians in her state. She revived her first failed bill, AB 858, and began another onslaught. This time she scored. The bill passed January 29, 2004, and may be implemented in 2006. Goldberg doesn’t want another nickel of public funds used to preserve Indian names or images. 

In her imagination, Indian images are irreparably damaging, humiliating, and derogatory, and must never again be seen in public.

In her “white” judgment, Goldberg doesn’t even want Indians to play Indian at our own schools, or schools where many Indians attend. She turned a deaf ear to the Pala Reservation elders before, but, to get her AB 858 passed this time, she conceded that schools located near “Indian-controlled land,” whose Indians mascots had been endorsed by Indians, would be allowed to keep their own image. A noble gesture, Jackie. 

However, Jackie is not even commenting on the Grammy number put on by OutKast. Their African-American style of music, dance, and vocalization in “Hey Ya” was as opposite of true American Indian culture as the east is from the west. And the history of African Americans bears no resemblance to Indian history, nor is there any similar ethos.  

OutKast put on a low level, vulgar, gaudy act, hideous in Indians’ eyes, outrageously fake and terribly offensive.  

So why can’t the white race enjoy the honors of Indian warrior images on its schools?   

The white race alone made nation-to-nation treaties with the American Indian. The white race alone had the strength and valor to physically displace the American Indian. Yet white people, at least in California now, may never allow their white children to play Indian at school. White children must never be allowed to use Indian names, images, or clothing at any time, for any reason. It’s “denigrating” to Indians, we are told by white liberals like Jackie Goldberg. 

But it’s apparently okay for the American Negro to play Indian. Indians are not to feel the slightest bit offended. Why, Negroes have dark skin, just like Indians. Why, isn’t it wonderful how all non-white “darkies” of the world are all just alike, and can all dance the same dance? 

I think Jackie Goldberg is a model for all liberals who truly hate Indians, who truly wish to erase any distinction between indigenous cultures. Skip Hayward did it for the Mashantucket Pequot “Indians” in Connecticut. There are no Indians in his “federally recognized tribe.” They’re “black.” Goldberg and OutKast are doing it in California. White people can’t play Indian. Black people can. Indians ourselves have no say. 

I wonder what Goldberg would have thought if the Grammys had hung an outdoor advertising banner in Los Angeles with the OutKast Indian gig on it? I wonder if her hatred of the Indian image would have been so relentlessly consistent?  She approves of ad banners, despite the fact that they’re illegal there. Well, as long as they don’t depict white people dressed like Indians; that’s offensive, she assures us.


Dr. David A. Yeagley is a published scholar, professionally recorded composer, and an adjunct professor at the University of Oklahoma College of Liberal Studies. He's on the speakers list of Young America's Foundation. E-mail him at badeagle2000@yahoo.com. View his website at http://www.badeagle.com.


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