Letter from Carter Camp


One of the main excuses given for using Indian people as mascots is that the offending parties true intent is to ‘honor’ our people in their portrayals. An often overlooked aspect of this debate was made clear last year when Ponca City High School (the wildcats) played one of the many schools in Oklahoma which ‘honor’ us by ‘mascoting’ us. All week long our school bristled with signs and posters calling on all true wildcat fans to; “scratch, scalp, tomahawk, kill, burn and murder the Indians”. Of course they were not meant to hurt the many Ponca Tribal children who attend Ponca City schools. They were aimed at the enemy school whose mascot was an Indian. Caricatures and racist pictures abounded, all derived from the ‘honoring’ picture of a Native Chief in a headress of eagle feathers. No matter if the mascot or logo is benign or even beautiful, the “Indians” are the enemy to the opposing side in every game and must be vanquished, dishonored and defeated. It is for this reason sports mascots cannot ‘honor’ our people, at every game they play the opposing side must try to defeat the Indians. Each School has over a hundred games a year in which opposing teams are invited by their very name to hurl epithets at the ‘redskins’ or ‘Indians’. But these epithets cannot be pointed only at a rivals mascot, their barbs penetrate and hurt our children like stray bullets. Deadly, no matter the intent of the shooter. The one and only way to stop opposing teams from using racist portrayals of Indian people is to stop the use of Indian people as mascots.

Carter Camp, Ponca Nation