The Fernandeño Tataviam Band of Mission Indians (FTBMI or Tribe) supports the removal, retirement, and replacement of race-based mascots, symbols, and images and personality by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations within its homelands of northern Los Angeles County, including the Simi, San Fernando, Santa Clarita, and Antelope Valleys.
Our Tribal citizens have vocalized their fear for their children who may attend these schools where race-based chants, symbols, make-up, costumes, and/or atmosphere will impact their Native student’s self-esteem and self-worth. Thus, FTBMI supports the change of race-based Native American mascots as a true gesture toward equality and justice that centers our children and future generations.
The American Psychological Association called for the retirement of Indian mascots due to the growing body of social science literature in support of the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals of race-based mascots on all students, but especially on Native American youth. In 2015, the Governor of California signed into law an act that prohibited California Racial Mascots using a derogative slur. Over 450 Native organization, advocates, and Tribes have signed a letter demanding the removal of Native mascots and imagery.
It is demeaning to depict us – the First People of northern Los Angeles County – as mascots because it does not honor our history, ancestors, or culture. Rather, it perpetuates dehumanizing and harmful stereotypes about Native Americans and promotes over-generalizations about a culturally diverse and unique peoples. Race-based mascots do not honor the unique and challenging histories of Native Americans, nor do they produce a sensitive atmosphere for today’s Native American youth who are students of these schools or playing on opposing sports teams.
Keeping a race-based mascot sends a clear message: that a school district values their school pride based upon race-based imagery more than the harmful psychological and emotional impacts it has on real-life Native students.
Seventy-eight percent of all Americans believe it is important to feature more stories about Native Americans, and the Tribe is grateful for these fellow community members. In a gesture of good faith, the FTBMI will work collaboratively with school districts when they endeavor to develop historically accurate and culturally competent curriculum about the local Native American peoples for their students.
As the First People of these lands, we are often forgotten. This Native American Heritage Month we look to you – our community of student leaders, school administrators, family advocates, and change-makers, to right a historical wrong and lead in good example for generations to come.
Your voice matters!