Students worry past mascots are hindering cultural awarness today

Carley Nail, [email protected]

Graduating from a school gives you a certain connection with its mascot. For graduates of ULM before 2006, this mascot is the Indians. However, due to NCAA rules forcing a mascot change, recent graduates have connected with the Warhawk. 

Despite this change, there are still some people who feel connected to past mascots. 

One example is an alumnus who is connected to the Indians. 

At multiple home football games, he has been seen wearing a Native American war bonnet. 

Some people think it’s a harmless way to remember his past days at ULM. 

However, others feel it’s cultural appropriation. 

As this can be seen as insensitive to Native Americans and their culture, the situation was brought to the attention of ULM’s director of Diversity, Inclusion and Equity, Pamela Saulsberry, and Vice President Valerie Fields.

After seeing this individual, some students began asking questions. 

According to Saulsberry, asking important questions gives an opportunity for learning about these types of situations. 

“People need to be open to asking questions, even difficult ones and receiving information—information that might be new and/or difficult to hear,” Saulsberry said. “Those are the conversations that lead to growth and facilitate understanding.”

Saulsberry said answering questions such as these lead to a better understanding and appreciation across diverse lines.

Kaylee Sadler, a senior education major, said we need to continue to educate ourselves as we become more aware of various cultures. 

“As times change and society as a whole becomes more aware of cultures and experiences that have previously been silenced, we have a responsibility as individuals to educate ourselves and do better,” Sadler said. 

Fields and Saulsberry also stressed the importance of educating yourself about the cultural differences of the people around you and how to appreciate without appropriating. 

They said in situations where cultural appropriation is present, we need to listen to the people that can educate us best. 

According to Fields, ULM has 40 students and two staff that are Native American or Native Alaskan. 

ULM also has classes that teach Native American history and literature. 

Sadler is currently in a featured author English course that focuses on Native American women writers. 

Sadler said this class has benefitted her in multiple ways because it educates her on Native American culture.  

“This class has enlightened [me] on countless topics and issues concerning Native Americans and their cultures,” Sadler said. “I think one of the best ways to educate yourself on Native American cultures is to read Native American authors or any Native American creating in the world.”