Debate over ASU ''Indians" mascot

November 12, 2005 -- Posted at 10:28 p.m. CST


JONESBORO, AR -- A three person panel met atArkansas State University Saturday afternoon to discuss the use of the term ''Indians'' as a school mascot.  There is currently a ruling by the NCAA that is banning the use of terms related to Native Americans for 18 schools.  A.S.U. is one of those schools.  “We're trying to eliminate the Native American mascot,” said Joey Chunestudy, “We feel that it's kind of a stereotypical image and it's really a bad image towards native American people.  That 's not who we are.” 

There are many members of Native American descent that feel the use of the term Indian to describe a sports team is belittling to their people   “We feel it completely misrepresents who Native American people are.  It's also a very generic.  “Indians”… it's like saying white people,” said Chunestudy.

“We want to educate the people into what our heritage really is and get those “Indians” so to speak portrayed in a dignified Cherokee matter,” Doug Cotter.

But there are others of Native American descent who don't feel a name change is necessary.  “It's been here for years.  Nobody's ever said anything and they don’t have any right to start complaining now,” said Linda Bezzard.   “I have Indian in my family and I don't find it offensive,” said Amanda Emery.

Many of those who attended the seminar said if all references to Native Americans are removed, it could be more harmful to the people than the names themselves.  Linda Bezzard says she thinks the name is an honor to her people, “We need this name here.  We need this to go along with us as a people.”