Letter to the Editor

By Anthony Shirley


It was interesting to read two articles in The Daily Utah Chronicle, ?Native American Speaker Talks About Activism? and ?Debate Over Mascots Name Flares As Opponents Plan More Protests,? which were printed Feb. 28. These articles focused on mascots, racism and Native Americans.

Being a full-blooded Navajo/ Dineh, of the Many Goat clan, born to the Tower House People clan, I felt I would share my opinion on this matter. The one article that came from a student at the University of North Dakota quoted Russell Means, an American Indian Movement (AIM) member saying, “Native Americans who are ignorant or in support of mascots are idiots.?

I am one of the many Native Americans who are in support of mascot usage.

Actions taken by AIM members are not always welcomed or accepted by native people.

Since its foundation in 1968, AIM has always been an unsteady organization. Russell Means was one of the founders of this organization and has always been known to disrupt the livelihood of certain tribes across the nation.

AIM could do so much more positive things by focusing on more valid issues that are important to the sacredness of our people, such as alcoholism, the environment, unemployment, education and the preservation of our traditions and cultures.

My position on this issue coincides with the beliefs passed down to me by my elders. The traditional Navajo teachings reflect on Hozhoni, Beauty Way.

This is an idealistic way of life shared by most native people. I was taught that life was a never ending sacred hoop and that within this sacredness all things are related.

Harm to one another is not welcomed.

My grandparents always taught me not to mind what people thought of me as a Navajo. The expectations my clan family had for me to succeed in life are all that mattered.

I never look to others and their opinions to justify who I am. Mascot usage does not define who I am. I believe that is why our elders and more traditional people do not join protests or could care less. They, like myself, focus on the Beauty Way.

I believe people today concern themselves too much with how others view them. This is what this issue is really about.

AIM has made plans to protest at the University of North Dakota commencements this spring. I do not see the beauty in protesting at this function where other native students would be graduating while their loved ones are attending to honor their new graduate.

Nor do I see benefit of threatening to hurt the university economically. I feel honor in Native American mascots being used alongside the Trojans and Vikings who were also great warriors in our history.

I don’t believe mascots are chosen with the intent to degrade people. I hope that such recognition like the University of Utah Utes will be accepted and never changed. I greatly appreciate your attention, and hope that you understand my point of view.

Anthony Shirley

Staff, U Hospital