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Oops! Inadvertent Indian Slurs

Oops! Inadvertent Indian Slurs
May 07
10:49 2015

By John Christian Hopkins

Native Americans are the Rodney Dangerfield of minorities: they don’t get any respect.

During a misconduct hearing last week, Air Force Major General Michael Keltz, said a photograph of the accused officer and another officer made them look “drunker than 10,000 Indians.”

Keltz, a 34-year veteran, was commander of the 19th Air Force at the Joint Base, San Antonio. He resigned his command and retired from service

General Keltz

Major General Michael Keltz

following the comment.

“I inadvertently made an unfortunate comment, I own it, and I hold myself accountable to the same high standards my subordinate commanders are held to,” Keltz said.

A waitress at an Earls Restaurant in British Columbia didn’t mention 10,000 drunk Indians, just homeless ones.

Filmmaker Laura Milliken, a member of the Ojibwe tribe, was having a friendly conversation with a friend – also Ojibwe – and the waitress, when the friend mentioned hearing that the area had a high crime rate.

The server immediately said the crime was due to the Aboriginal people in the area – especially the homeless ones. That’s when Milliken and her friend told the server that they were Ojibwe. The waitress quickly apologized.

“I don’t think this young lady is racist, she just said the wrong thing,” Milliken said.

Milliken spoke to management and hopes the staff undergoes sensitivity training.

Earls Restaurants issued an apology over the racist remarks and, in a letter to Milliken, spokeswoman Cate Simpson said the issue of sensitivity will be central to upcoming staff meetings.

Last year, Earls dropped its Albino Rhino brand after a woman with Albinism complained it was demeaning to people like her.

Then, there was the whole flap over Adam Sandler’s still-in-production“The Ridiculous Six,” a western spoof of the classic “The Magnificent Seven.” Several native actors walked off the set to protest the stereotypes and lack of respect for native culture found in the movie.

Some routine sayings – such as “hold down the fort” or “low man on the totem pole” – may be viewed as insulting to a native co-worker, according to Diversity, Inc.

Forts were generally built to hold back Indians, and totem poles were generally sacred, religious objects.

Then there are the seemingly innocent comments that provoke native ire, like “How Indian are you?” or “Do you live in a teepee?”

Natives tend to take offense when their culture and traditions are taken lightly, such as referring to their regalia as a costume – or inappropriately wearing a headdress.

That was what Christina Fallin, daughter of Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin did in a since-deleted Instagram picture from 2014. The photo angered some Native Americans who turned up to protest at her band, Pink Pony’s, at the Norman Music Fest.

Far from being contrite, Fallin put on the head gear again and this time added an “Indian dance” on stage. In support of his friend Fallin,Flaming Lips singer Wayne Coyne also posted pics of three people wearing headdresses – and one of a dog!

When Flaming Lips drummer Kliph Scurlock objected to the racist photos, Coyne promptly fired him.

There is a difference between unintentionally offending someone and going out of your way to deliver a deliberate insult.

But, there may be some good news for Indians.

On May 4, the California Assembly voted 60-9 to ban the use of the name“Redskins” in public schools. The bill applies to four schools,according to news reports. The schools will have to phase out the offensive name by 2017.

“There is obviously a lack of respect when we allow teams to brand themselves with racial slurs,” said Assemblyman Luis Alejo, who sponsored the bill.

The bill next awaits action in the California senate.

California lawmakers tried to ban the use of Redskins in 2002, but the legislation was vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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