N. Misha Busch Professor Cole



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N. Misha Busch

Professor Cole

English 2810

3 April 2014

Cultural Appropriation:

New Age Sweat Lodges and Indian Mascots in the US

In this essay we will discuss how people are using new age sweat lodges, as a form of cleansing, which was a Native American thing that everyone is using now as a way to change you and start again. We will also talk about how Indian mascots are being used in good ways and negative ways and how it is affecting Native American culture.

“The most important thing to remember about ceremony is that it is a way for humans to give back to the Creation some of the energy that they are always receiving” (Garrett, Pg.318). This is how Native Americans view the ceremonies that they perform. There is a special meaning to what they do, how they do it, and why they do it. America has taken one of these purification ceremonies (that was what it meant to Native Americans) and turned it into a hip thing to do. Not only have Native Americans used it now, but Americans and other people all over the world. “The underlying goal of these ceremonies, from a Native perspective, is almost always to offer thanks in order to create and maintain a strong sense of connection through harmony and balance of mind, body, and spirit with the natural environment” (Garrett, Pg.318). Non-native people are using it in the same way, but also as “[Native culture] culturally based interventions and techniques such as the sweat lodge ceremony or sweat therapy, based on Native traditions of healing, are being used in clinical, mental health, correctional, and substance abuse treatment centers serving both Native and non-Native clients” (Garrett, Pg.318). So not only are the sweat lodges helping Native Americans, but they are helping non-Natives with thing like drug abuse, and other serious conditions. “The American Indian/Alaska Native Suicide Task Force Report and RCAP emphasize the need for treatment programs that incorporate traditional



healing, noting that those programs that do so had greater success in preventing suicide” (Schiff, Pg.50). This proves that the sweat lodges are doing good things for the non-Natives and especially the Native Americans. Non-Native people using the sweat lodges for connecting the mind and body and spirit, and as a rehab place if you have mental health issues, drug problems, and just normal doctoring use, it isn’t misusing what the Native Americans originally had done when they used the sweat lodges. The Native Americans may have said chanting prayers while someone was in the sweat lodge, which they may not do in the same way now, but the Native Americans and the non-Native’s still treat the sweat lodge experience with respect because it can be a life changing experience. “[The]…reports that they observed said sweat lodge participants were less worried and had a higher level of self-esteem after a sweat lodge. In a review of the literature… they found that many American Indians spoke about the importance of socialization and friendship and the healing properties that come with laughter in a sweat lodge” (Schiff, Pg.50). These are things that are still happening in sweat lodges today, and it is still respectful to how the Native Americans originally saw the idea of the sweat lodge. Native Americans are being respected from what we can see with the sweat lodge, and non-Native are embracing a ceremony of the Natives that can be life changing for them. So we can see that the exposure of this ceremony has benefited everyone, and was a good thing.

“These mascots are stereotypes that portray Native Americans as aggressive fighters, ignore contemporary Native American life, ignore cultural differences between different Native societies, and misrepresent and trivialize aspects of Native cultures” (Davis-Delano, Pg.341). Some people see Native American mascots like this. Some views are that they are degrading, and are demoralizing to Native Americans. Examples of this may be like the Atlanta Braves baseball team, the Washington Redskins football team, and Atlanta Hawks basketball team. Since these names all have to do with Native Americans, a lot of people have problems with them because people think that they are degrading to the Native American population. Some of the names can be degrading, like ‘redskins’, because that is like saying they have redskin because Americans in the past killed them, thus they have redskin now. But others, Native and non-Native, don’t agree that the mascots are degrading to them, but an honor. “A multidimensional measure of sport involvement showed that high sport involvement predicted greater acceptance of Native American mascots. Only 16% of respondents found any of the Native American sport mascots presented in the study to be at all offensive whereas the rest of the participants showed approval” (Bresnahan, Pg.165). Only 16% out of 100 Native Americans found the mascot offensive, which is a very small percent. A lot of the Native Americans are proud of the mascots because it shows who they are. They are brave, they are a hawk tribe, and they are warriors and survivors. They are a strong people that has overcome trial and come out on top. They should be a proud people, and having mascots, in a way is honoring that, especially like the Utah Utes who have tribal permission and are very honored to be able to use that name. “The first set of essays explores the invention of the mascots and their adoption by institutions and athletic teams, including the power issues and the new way that they are asking tribes... but it is just an image” (Cain, Pg.32). Many people don’t see the Native American mascots as discriminatory. They maybe don’t know the back story of why they used a tomahawk, and they see it as nothing but an action that a sports team uses as a game tradition. The majority of the people don’t think that Native American mascots are bad; neither do the Native Americans as we learned from the statistics stated earlier. They see the mascots as just a name. Just an image. It means nothing more than that. You can say that they are just ignorant or ignoring the real issue. But that would just be looking at the world in a negative light, and expecting the worst from people that they will be racist no matter what. But the world has changed, and although racism may exist in certain areas, the majority doesn’t see the mascot issue as racist, but as an honor to be someone who is brave, someone who is a fighter, someone that has made a mark in history and someone that will be honored and treasured for a long time.

From this essay we can see that there may be many issues regarding Native Americans, but they aren’t all negative. There are many things that people address with the Native Americans that are good, like by asking permission to have the honor of using their tribal name as a mascot, or using sweat lodges to help people and connect with who they are. Native Americans have influenced America in many ways, and are showing that even with controversy they can shine in a dark sky, and be recognized as an honored, idolized, beautiful people that have a lot to offer to America from their traditional ways.

Works Cited

Bresnahan, Mary Jiang, and Kelly Flowers. "The Effects Of Involvement In Sports On Attitudes Toward Native American Sport Mascots." Howard Journal Of Communications 19.2 (2008): 165-181. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.

Cain, Timothy Reese. "The Native American Mascot Debate." About Campus 6.4 (2001): 31. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.

Davis-Delano, Laurel R. "Eliminating Native American Mascots: Ingredients For Success." Journal Of Sport & Social Issues 31.4 (2007): 340-373. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.

Garrett, Michael Tlanusta, et al. "Crying For A Vision: The Native American Sweat Lodge Ceremony As Therapeutic Intervention." Journal Of Counseling & Development 89.3 (2011): 318-325. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.

Schiff, Jeannette Wagemakers, and Kerrie Moore. "The Impact Of The Sweat Lodge Ceremony On Dimensions Of Well-Being." American Indian & Alaska Native Mental Health Research: The Journal Of The National Center 13.3 (2006): 48-69. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 Apr. 2014.





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