Warm Springs

Native American mascots: Pride or prejudice?

Warm Springs residents, like many, split on controversy

Warm Springs Tribes weigh in on Redskins controversy

WARM SPRINGS, Ore. - The battle usually reserved for the turf is now heating up off the field: Native American mascots.

The controversy is at center stage after the  U.S. Patent and Trademark Office this week pulled the Washington Redskins football team's trademark -- calling the name  "disparaging to Native Americans."

"It is degrading to Native American Indians," Warm Springs tribal member Marge Kalama said Thursday.

But on the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs turf, you'll see lots of the typical mascots on clothing and gear.

"It's a way for us to represent ourselves," tribal member Brutis Baez said.

Recreation Department Sports and Athletic Coordinator Satch Miller said he's not personally offended by the mascots, but definitely respects those who are.

He said he'll often root for the Redskins because of the mascot.

"I was pulling for them, just because you picture Redskins as being native," Miller said.

Most tribal members NewsChannel 21 spoke with Thursday said they have no problem with any of the Native American mascots you'll find representing sports teams, colleges or schools. To them, it's just another expression of their culture and heritage.

"I'm glad to be Native -- I love it," Baez said. "Whether it's wearing the medallions, the hats -- Redskins hat or Braves hat, it's an easier way to say, 'I'm Native American.'"

But Warm Springs native Marge Kalama said she'll never forget being called a squaw when she was in school.

"I don't accept it, and I stand up with my people and say, 'Enough is enough,'" Kalama said.

(The name of Central Oregon's Squaw Creek officially was changed in recent years to Whychus Creek.)

Kalama said she's offended when important religious and cultural symbols are reduced to silly cartoons.

"It degrades the honor we have when men do wear their bustles and headdresses, because they wear those for honor," Kalama said.

From Washington to Warm Springs and across the nation, it's a decades-old battle far from over.

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