An Open Letter in response to the introduction of HF2224,
Recently, four Iowa Democrats have introduced a bill to phase out the use of Native American mascots in Iowa schools by 2024. Great Plains Action Society’s Director of Operations, Trisha Etringer, was quoted in an article in which she expressed her support for this proposed legislation, which reflects our organization as a whole. This letter is to celebrate this step in the right direction, and to provide more information about the issue at hand. With this Open Letter Campaign, we will be calling upon you to join us in communicating to the people in power that we need to be working toward a New Iowa. Unfortunately, that will often mean calling people out for failing to act, or for acting in harmful ways. Fortunately, in this case, it means asking you to send your support and encouragement to those that are fighting the difficult battles on behalf of our children.
The elimination of Native American mascots is something that Indigenous Peoples have been fighting for over 50 years. These mascots harm the mental health of our children but people still try to shift the topic away from this fact. They frame it as a sign of “respect” and that they are not trying to be “offensive” but then trot out self-identifying Natives who will gladly accept money to say they are honored by such imagery. These mascots are almost always offensive to all Indigenous Peoples but what is vital to point out is that they are harmful to our children. We are exceedingly grateful that legislation is being introduced to end this practice that harms our children.
In this letter, we are asking that you show support for this proposed legislation, that you give encouragement to the legislators proposing it, and encourage your own legislators to get behind this important legislation. For those of you who might be opposed to this it, we encourage you to take the time to educate yourself about the harm these mascots cause. Not only do they damage the self-esteem of Indigenous children, but they also negatively affect the way that non-Indigenous children think of Indigenous people. Dehumanization is toxic for everyone.
This mascot issue is something that Great Plains Action Society has been fighting for years. We’ve been there, at the meetings, and had to sit through some truly awful racist rants. This bill becoming law would mean an end to that. Please, voice your support for this important legislation. But this legislation is not the end. Much of the work we do is dedicated to ending Monuments to White Supremacy in the state of Iowa, period. While it may not seem obvious, the continued existence of Native mascots is a white supremacist act. Our dehumanization is a key component in the white supremacist agenda.
In conclusion, we are asking for you to support this proposed legislation and the legislators introducing it (Molly Donahue (D-Cedar Rapids), Brian Meyer (D-Des Moines), Art Staed (Cedar Rapids), and Mary Wolfe (D-Clinton). If you don’t understand why this issue is so important then at least take the time to educate yourself on why these mascots are harmful to all children. And please, appreciate these efforts as an important step in our ongoing efforts to combat white supremacy.
Great Plains Action Society