Local chief supports ‘Redskins’ ban, tribal recognition

Members of Xipe Totec Aztecas perform Fire and Eagle Danza during the 30th Annual California Indian Market and Peace Pow Wow May 3 in San Juan Bautista.
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One of the more influential Native American voices in the region told the Free Lance he supports a local assemblyman’s efforts to ban the use of “Redskins” as a mascot in California public schools.
“It’s important because ‘redskin’ has a negative tone to it because it is a name given to us during the Indian Wars,” said Chief Sonne Reyna of the Lipan Apache-Yaqui tribe.
Reyna co-founded the California Indian Market in San Juan Bautista set for its 31st year over the first weekend in May.
“There are people, of course, who love the Indian, the native spirit behind that,” Reyna said. “But the genesis of the word is simply not acceptable.”
Reyna said “Native American” is a better alternative to the mascot name used by four public high schools in California and a total of 69 nationwide. He said the use of red paint by Native Americans is “highly spiritual.”
“And it’s certainly disrespectful for any sports team or anyone to abuse the tradition of our people,” Reyna said.
In December, Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, introduced the California Racial Mascots Act in the State Assembly. It would ban the use of the Redskins name in light of public pressure for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League to change the longstanding team name.
Going beyond sports, Reyna contended the president and U.S. government owe Native Americans “reconciliation” over the American Indian holocaust.
“We are still technically prisoners of war under the United States government and the state government,” he said.
He said there are hundreds of tribes awaiting state and federal recognition, which he believes would set the stage for receiving benefits “for the taking of all of our land and for the slaughter of all of our people.”

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