Dear Warriors,

I graduated from Wilson Area High School in Easton, Pennsylvania years ago. More importantly, I am a proud alumnus of the Wilson Area High School Warrior Marching Band. I can remember clearly hearing our named announced over loud speakers at football games and band competitions. There is a special inflection between “Warrior” and “Marching” that emphasized that we were pretty amazing.

And we were/are.

Yet, I would like to ask my fellow alumni, if they think it is time for a change. For all my years at Wilson and many of the years after, “Warrior” was nothing more than a word, a mascot, a combination of syllables that created a brand with which I have been (and still am) proud to identify. But perhaps it is time for a re-branding, time to disconnect the easy association between high school and mascot and re-establish the connection between “warrior” and “history.” If this argument is beginning to sound familiar, you may be a Redskins fan.

I want my Alma Mater to be on the right side of history, to make a statement with its students, faculty, alumni and community that the Wilson Area School District recognize when it is time to evolve its brand and take steps forward.

It is time to open a dialogue about our long time mascot.

This is not some politically correct notions, or a knee-jerk response to outside pressure. I am not making any demands, but I would like to start a discussion about what the “Warrior” has meant to fellow alumni, and what the representation means in the larger, American landscape. Dr. Adrienne Keene has an interesting blog about the appropriation of Native American imagery that should be the first stop for anyone wondering why this type of dialogue is important. It is imperative that the reasoning does not come from myself, or other non-Native people, but from those whose cultural identity is being used as a mascot. Let’s not get distracted by ideas of “honoring” Native Americans as “warriors”, this only perpetuates the image that Native Americans exists only in some magical, past America and not part of our contemporary world.

This is an opportunity to talk, to talk about why this could be a good step forward without forgoing the wonderful legacy of Wilson High. Remember, that legacy is not embodied in the form of a mascot, but in the current and former students that passed through its doors.



Difficulty in Diving In

I admit I have been reluctant to start this blog for my Contemporary Indigenous Rhetoric graduate course. It’s not the fear of expressing my views in a public forum, but that strange notion of whether my thoughts are valid enough for expression in the first place. During our first class, we were asked to write down our preconceived notions, experiences and possible misleading ideas of the contemporary lives of Native Americans. Outside of the incessant pejorative representations in media and commerce, my own experience was severely limited. With a weird intellectual pride, I announced that I was woefully ignorant in all aspects of contemporary Native life.

The Indian Head Test Pattern is an interesting piece of Americana. The head was reportedly used to adjust brightness and contrast.

I mentioned tangential experience living near the Tulalip Reservation in Washington State; my connections being more commercial than social. A few “knowing” comments from friendly people while I was looking for work—”you can try the casino, but they tend to only hire tribal”—may have also colored my opinion if I weren’t old enough to take such advice with a heavy dose of salt and a side-eye.

During that class, I briefly touched on my mother’s interest in Native American music and spirituality, one more woman swept up in the New Age “revitalization” and misrepresentation of the “Red Path”, as she calls it. I sound critical of her interest. I am not. Yet there is a certain wish to keep our interests from crossing due to our personalities and my lack of an ability to share. Separate spheres, is what I call it. You have your things, I have mine.

This is probably the main obstacle to fully diving into this topic, at least in the same way I have other classes. I feel like I am treading on someone else’s territory and trying to call it my own. Add to that, the destructive “white guilt” that only comes from a self-awareness of one’s privilege and I found myself a little stuck.

Yet here I am, and while I am doubtful that I can add anything revelatory to the conversation of contemporary indigenous rhetoric, I can curate a space of awareness; a place where I can parse out my own imprinted notions of Native American life, present and past.