Standing Rock Sioux... Cleveland "Indian" Fans
Compare and Contrast

October 31, 2016 | Revolution Newspaper |


The Standing Rock Sioux and thousands of others protesting the building of the Dakota Access Pipeline are fighting to protect the waters of this land and lands held sacred in their culture. They have heroically resisted pepper gas, beatings, and hundreds of arrests. In their determined resistance they have brought to the fore the whole history of broken treaties and genocide against the Native American peoples. The protesters are modeling something very important—collectively taking responsibility for the future of the land and people living on it and making sure it is not destroyed.

Contrast that with the people carousing and acting the fool in Chicago and Cleveland, celebrating a “World” Series in which one team uses a grotesque and cruel caricature of Native Americans as its emblem. Hundreds of fans have worn a racist “Chief Wahoo” costume to the games, and millions of people have watched them on TV.

The team adopted the name “Cleveland Indians” in 1915, only 25 years after the Wounded Knee massacre of as many as 300 Lakota Sioux. Cleveland newspapers announced the new name with racist vitriol, evoking a mythological “primitive savage” image which had already served for several centuries to justify genocide of the indigenous peoples of the Americas. One newspaper wrote “...we’ll have the Indians, on the warpath all the time, and eager for scalps to dangle at their belts.” And the “Chief Wahoo” mascot still used today on the uniforms and buildings, and worn by fans in this World Series, is no different than the racist “black Sambo” used during Jim Crow to caricature Black people as an inferior people.

Bob Avakian’s first point of “3 Things that have to happen in order for there to be real and lasting change for the better” is that “1) People have to fully confront the actual history of this country and its role in the world up to today, and the terrible consequences of this.” Once you do that, the door opens to digging into why the world is that way, and how it can be changed.


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