Redskins, Warriors and Indians
The University of West Georgia in Carrollton was once known as the “Braves.” Today, they are the “Wolves.” The name change was made because one or more people were offended saying that the old name denigrated Native Americans.
The University of Illinois, the “Fighting Illini,” has dispensed with the symbol of the “Chief” and people who allege to speak for all Native Americans are fighting to do away with the Redskins’ symbolism, as in “Washington Redskins.”
The town in which I grew up had two junior high schools and one high school. The Ross N. Robinson Junior High, where I started my football journey, was known as “The Redskins.” Our cross-town rivals were the Warriors of John Sevier Junior High.
We all gathered together to form the Dobyns-Bennett High School Indians, the high school with the most football victories in the history of Tennessee.
No one ever — ever! — intimated or considered the mascots to be a slur to those who had once ruled and dominated East Tennessee. In our area, Indians, as we once called them in those pre-enlightened days, were seen as noble, pure of heart, at one with the hills, and fighters of the first order. We were proud to be Redskins, or Warriors, or Indians.
When we moved to Georgia, my oldest son graduated as a McIntosh High School “Chief.” The other two went to East Coweta High School where they were the Indians. If tradition had won out, my oldest granddaughter would now be a UWG Brave instead of a Wolf.
Most schools look to either fierce animals or mighty warriors for mascots. At least West Georgia went with the Wolves instead of the Mighty Ducks. Okay, Oregon has a good football team but it’s not because of their wimpy mascot.
There are the Western Washington Vikings, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, the Leathernecks of Western Illinois, the University of Southern California Trojans, the Michigan State Spartans, the Mountaineers of West Virginia, the Volunteers of Tennessee, the Buccaneers of East Tennessee State, and many more based on the fighting spirit. Oh, and the Florida State Seminoles.
Then there are the Auburn Tigers, the Georgia Bulldogs, the Florida Gators, the Florida A&M Rattlers, the Drexel University Dragons, the Montana Grizzlies, the Pittsburgh State Gorillas, the Fire Ants of the University of South Carolina at Sumter (you ever stepped in a fire ant nest?), the University of Michigan Wolverines, the Virginia Intermont Cobras, the Colorado Buffaloes, and on it goes.
Iona College and St. Mary’s of California have the Gaels — a “Gael” is a person of Irish/Gaelic descent. Don’t see the Irish getting all bent out of shape.
Nor are Baptists in a tizzy because Wake Forest has the Demon Deacons.
What about the Fighting Scots of Edinboro in Pennsylvania? Are the Scots in a dither?
Should blue-collar workers be offended because the nickname for Purdue is the Boilermakers?
Where’s the protest in Louisiana over the Ragin’ Cajuns of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette?
And shouldn’t Christians be all ticked off over the use of Crusaders, the Friars, the Saints, Angels, and Padres?
Shouldn’t I be personally irritated because the nickname for both North Carolina Wesleyan and Ohio Wesleyan is The Battling Bishops?
Johnson College in Knoxville is the Preachers and Snead State of Boaz, Ala., is the Parsons. As far as I know, neither the National Council of Churches nor the Academy of Parish Clergy are in a rage. No, it’s just all so silly.
I like the variety of nicknames and I especially like the Indian versions. Family lore has it that my grandmother was born in Oklahoma and was half Cherokee. That makes me one-eighth Native American and proud of it. I am a proud Robinson Redskin and Dobyns-Bennett Indian alumni.
To all those people who are offended on my behalf: Don’t you have something constructive to do?
[David Epps is the pastor of the Cathedral of Christ the King, Sharpsburg, GA (www.ctkcec.org). He is the bishop of the Mid-South Diocese which consists of Georgia and Tennessee (www.midsouthdiocese.org) and the Associate Endorser for the Department of the Armed Forces, U. S. Military Chaplains, ICCEC. He may contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.]