By: Erica Lampert ~Staff Writer~
The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center (NURFC) partnered with Xavier to present the special exhibition “Mascots,” located on the second floor of Gallagher Student Center (GSC).
The collection of art and photography was curated by Xavier director for photography, marketing and communications Greg Rust. It juxtaposes the lived experience of Native Americans with their portrayal as sports mascots.
NURFC will host a panel discussion on Nov. 7 about how stereotypes affect Native American communities. The main topic will be sports mascots and team names.
“It won’t be a discussion back and forth. It will be a discussion of why these mascots, the Indians, the Redskins, are offensive to people. We want to make others aware of the issues Native Americans are facing right now,” Rust, who is coordinating the event, said.
“Around here, we almost think of (Native Americans) as a thing of the past, and what I want to try to do is let people know that they are still struggling, and they still have their issues — unemployment, suicide, drug abuse. They’ve been my friends and I want people to be aware of that,” he said.
The panel will consist of four speakers. Dusty Baker, former manager of the Cincinnati Reds and MLB player, will be the main speaker. Dennis Limberhand, Alex Tortes and Dr. Rose Wetterau will also contribute to the discussion.
“Dusty Baker being an African American with Native blood, was really embraced because of the fact he was an All-Star player and the manager of the year and actually took interest with the Natives,” Rust said.
Dr. Rose Wetterau is a clinical psychologist at Xavier who will speak about psychological effects of stereotypes and cultural appropriation. Cheyenne elder Alex Tortes and Dennis Limberhand of the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indian Tribe are both friends of Rust and were friends throughout their childhood.
Rust will also hold a discussion on campus at 3 p.m. on Nov. 6 in GSC 280. The main purpose of the event is to create dialogue surrounding the challenges Native American communities face. This discussion is one of three events Xavier will host in November in honor of Native American History Month.
“There is more to it than just a mascot. I use the mascot issue, that other people are aware of, to let them become more aware of other issues on the reservations,” Rust said.
The NURFC panel discussion will begin at 1 p.m. on Nov. 7 in the Freedom Center’s Everyday Freedom Heroes Gallery, and anyone can attend. Any student who attends can show a student ID at the door and receive a discount on his or her admission.
“There are a lot of issues that Native Americans are facing right now. A lot of people have stereotypes and think of them still living in Teepees, wearing war paint and chanting,” Rust said. “What I am trying to do is to make it aware to people that they are alive now and they are just like you and I. These people are still out there and they are no longer mascots.”
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