For weeks now I have read of the impending demise (or “retirement”) of the Hart High School mascot, the Indian. I have read articles written by longtime local residents deriding the William S. Hart Union High School district and its board members for their cowardice in the face of (insert name of current political fad or social movement). The Indian has been Hart High School’s mascot since 1945. It symbolizes bravery in the face of overwhelming odds, but there are those who feel strongly against any further exploitation of this noble race. Even though I am not one to be swayed by public opinion or motivated by political correctness (i.e., I’m not an elected official and I don’t care if I hurt people’s feelings), even I can see a problematic aspect to this mascot thing… but on a much grander scale.
Using Native American monikers to symbolize or reflect the skills, abilities, qualities or values of a non-Native American team of players does seem a bit odd. For one thing, we’re not Indians. Also, why would anyone want to be known for having the qualities and values of the race that their ancestors hated and butchered into near extinction? That’s just weird. But while we’re on the topic of mascots, names and symbols, I would pose the question from a significantly different perspective — why do you even need them?
Shouldn’t your reputation, and thus your identity, be reflected by your very behavior (i.e., they know who you are because they remember what you did to them the last time they played you), or is that just a bit too esoteric for the players and fans of something as primitive and physical as field sports? (I’m certain to get hate mail for that one.) Do you really need a mascot and a moniker to remind you of who and what you are? Are you that forgetful or doubtful of it? Isn’t the mere name of your school enough for you (i.e., Hart vs. Saugus, plain and simple)?
Let’s look on the bright side. Perhaps this is a good opportunity for us to evolve beyond our primitive past and stop hiding behind stuffed animals and totem poles. You don’t need a mascot, or even a name, to kick the opposing team’s ass on the field. All you need is the ability to do it as a team, and I am not aware of anything that demonstrates that better than the action itself — which, by the way, speaks far louder than words.