The battle over Carpinteria High’s mascot

Eli Cordero, a junior at Carpinteria High School of Chumash descent, protests the use of Native American imagery for school logos and emblems.
Eli Cordero, a junior at Carpinteria High School of Chumash descent, protests the use of Native American imagery for school logos. Image from http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-carpinteria-warriors15-2009mar15,0,5716759.story?page=1.
The LA Times and Santa Barbara Independent, among other newspapers, recently covered a local debate involving cultural stereotypes, school pride, and history.  Eli Cordero, a junior of Chumash descent, has pushed to remove Native American imagery at Carpinteria High.
The LA Times reports:
Eli sees “Warriors” as an ethnically neutral name, but he said the images have irked him ever since he was a child.

“There’s the big head in the parking lot,” he said, referring to a concrete bust of a headdress-clad Plains Indian chief that was a gift to the school from the Class of 1970. “That’s prejudice right there, looking you in the face.”

According to the SB Independent:
The election did prove pivotal. It was the newly-seated Panizzon who made the motion to remove only two images when the Native American Imagery Committee had recommended removing four, modifying two, and keeping four. Three other images were discussed by the committee, but no agreement could be reached on their fate.
It was a partial victory, but it is not over.  Cordero and his supporters plan to lobby the California legislature to pass a law banning Native American sports symbols.
I think that it’s easy for non-Native Americans to think, “What’s the big deal?” and not find the Native American imagery offensive.  But we should put ourselves in Cordero’s shoes.  What if your high school used Asian Pacific Islander imagery for its mascot and logos?  There is a very fine line between honoring history and perpetuating stereotypes.
— posted by Debbie Chong

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