Dancing at Halftime
Sports and the Controversy over American Indian Mascots
Publication Year: 2000
Sports fans love to don paint and feathers to cheer on the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians, the Atlanta Braves, the Florida State Seminoles, and the Warriors and Chiefs of their hometown high schools. But outside the stadiums, American Indians aren't cheering--they're yelling racism.
School boards and colleges are bombarded with emotional demands from both sides, while professional teams find themselves in court defending the right to trademark their Indian names and logos. In the face of opposition by a national anti-mascot movement, why are fans so determined to retain the fictional chiefs who plant flaming spears and dance on the fifty-yard line?
To answer this question, Dancing at Halftime takes the reader on a journey through the American imagination where our thinking about American Indians has been, and is still being, shaped. Dancing at Halftime is the story of Carol Spindel's determination to understand why her adopted town is so passionately attached to Chief Illiniwek, the American Indian mascot of the University of Illinois. She rummages through our national attic, holding dusty souvenirs from world's fairs and wild west shows, Edward Curtis photographs, Boy Scout handbooks, and faded football programs up to the light. Outside stadiums, while American Indian Movement protestors burn effigies, she listens to both activists and the fans who resent their attacks. Inside hearing rooms and high schools, she poses questions to linguists, lawyers, and university alumni.
A work of both persuasion and compassion, Dancing at Halftime reminds us that in America, where Pontiac is a car and Tecumseh a summer camp, Indians are often our symbolic servants, functioning as mascots and metaphors that express our longings to become "native" Americans, and to feel at home in our own land.
Published by: NYU Press
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It is a warm Saturday afternoon in October, the afternoon of a home game, and about forty thousand Fighting Illini fans file into Memorial Stadium. The stadium will hold nearly seventy thousand, but the team is losing badly this year. Blue pants are topped with bright orange blazers and orange sweaters. The round circle logo of Chief Illiniwek’s face is on the plastic drink cups they carry, on the...
At school board meetings, at universities, in professional sports, and on the editorial pages of widely read newspapers, objections are being raised to teams named the Warriors, Braves, Chiefs, Indians, and Redskins. Teams named after specific tribes such as the Apaches and Mohawks have also been criticized. Six teams—the Florida State Seminoles, the Fighting Illini at the University of Illinois...
Myth and Mascot
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Races of Living Things
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That Roughneck Indian Game
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Sons of Modern Illini
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What was college like for a student in the 1920s? Arriving on the train at the University of Illinois, new students might have taken the streetcar straight to the YMCA or YWCA to get lists of accredited boardinghouses. Female students automatically became members of the Women’s League organized by the YWCA and were encouraged to attend the league’s Wednesday teas. For a fee, students...
The Wild West
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Chills to the Spine, Tears to the Eyes
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The Speakers Have It All Wrong
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In Whose Honor?
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What Do I Know about Indians?
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Scandalous and Disparaging
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A Young Child Speaking
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A Racially Hostile Environment?
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Addendum from Grand Forks, North Dakota
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Native America received a powerful message of support in April 2001 when the United States Commission on Civil Rights, at the urging of the only Native American commissioner, Elsie Meeks, issued a statement on the subject. This advisory body to the U.S. government has no enforcement authority, but its serious studies of discriminatory practices often lead to legislation. The statement is...
I am grateful to every one of the many people who talked to me about their own experiences with Indian mascots, as well as each student who posed questions. Many others passed on references, articles, names, or stories. Although I can’t thank every single person with whom I’ve conversed on this subject, those conversations have been an important part of writing this book. I’d especially like...
Teachers at many levels tell me that the subject of mascots works well as a way to introduce students to many issues. Teachers will find that Jay Rosenstein’s film In Whose Honor complements this book well and is accessible for diverse ages and groups. A Native point of view about mascots can be easily found in many columns published in Indian Country Today, the nation’s largest native...
Page Count: 308
Publication Year: 2000
OCLC Number: 794701065
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