Editor, Manteca Bulletin:
I would to thank Jason Campbell for his balanced perspective on the issue of Ripon High School’s mascot. I think he is right that a dialog about “What’s in a name?” would be beneficial.
Estanisalo was the Polish derived name imposed on the Yokut leader Cucunuchi. If Ripon High desires to truly honor Cucunuchi, it might consider a bit of historical research. Such research might lead to removing the Plain Indian chief logo from its signage, to ending the appropriation of an East Coast Indian weapon – tomahawk – for its newspaper’s name and to stopping the dressing of mascots in leather fringe and ceremonial war bonnets. Finally Ripon High might consider including Cucunuchi’s history of resistance to white supremacy on its website.
Ripon High may need to consider the opinion of the National Congress of American Indians: “Often citing a long held myth by non-Native people that “Indian” mascots “honor Native people, American sports businesses … continue to profit from harmful stereotypes originated during a time when white superiority and segregation were commonplace.”
The Society of Indian Psychologists also has an opinion about what is in a name: “… we believe that continuation of the use of Indians as symbols and mascots is incongruous with the philosophy espoused by many Americans as promoting inclusivity and diversity.”
The California Racial Mascots Act states: “The use of racially derogatory or discriminatory school or athletic team names, mascots, or nicknames in California public schools is antithetical to the California school mission of providing an equal education to all.”
I confess to not being able to understand how a name like “Indians” honors a Native American leader like Cucunuchi. The mascot of my sons’ alma mater used to be the Redskins. It was changed to the Redhawks after a controversy similar to Ripon’s. Cucunuchi’s people have passed on to us tales that feature the coyote. Perhaps Ripon High might consider adopting this resourceful creature as an honor to the resiliency of the first stewards of our area.