The U.S. bought the territory known as the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 from France. Native American Indians had inhabited this area for centuries. The cowboys came into the territories much later as settlers moved west. Hollywood movies and television have created a perception that cowboys and Indians were at war with one another in the wild west. This isn’t accurate history. I think Hollywood mixed these two groups of people together to make its storylines more interesting.
You see, cowboys were hired to round up cattle and drive them for the owners. These people were paid large amounts of money plus a share of the profit from each cattle drive. The “war” that took place with the Indians was with the American government and its army pushing native American Indians off their land and onto reservations. This is a sad but real piece of American history.
Our local community has spent the better part of the last year in an uproar over the political correctness of two junior high mascots – the Cowboys and the Indians. Our superintendent and school board were pressured by a noisy minority in our town to eliminate these two mascots and remove all human imagery from our district’s mascot line up. The Indian mascot was deemed racist and the cowboy was not gender inclusive. I hate this. I hate that our leaders bent to cater to a noisy majority. I hate how sensitive and prickly we have become as a community.
Several of our family members are proud native American Indians and we are certainly proud to be called cowboys and cowgirls. Our schools didn’t parade around costumed mascot characters that poked fun at either mascot. For years and presently, our schools have been filled with students who are proud of their mascot – proud, brave, warrior-like Indians and tough, rough, hard-working cowboys. A mascot, in my opinion should be a source of pride. A representative of hardworking students in academics, athletics, band, choir and more.
The majority in our community disagreed with the way this decision was made, and many did not want these changes made. It was never put to a vote in our community. In its haste to be politically correct, our local school district missed a valuable opportunity to teach students about accurate history and draw strength from a long-standing tradition and pride in each school’s mascot.
The Woodland Cowboys will soon face the Ramay Indians in the last cross-town rival football game under the Thursday night lights. Our community fought hard to preserve tradition, but the political correctness police won this battle and destroyed an opportunity to bring honor to both existing mascots and traditions. We will celebrate anyway.
The community has been left disenchanted with a nomination process that will allow a committee in each school to come up with a list of new mascot nominations. These will be voted on by the student body later. By January 2020, we may be the Woodland Snowflakes and the Ramay Bunnies – who knows. What I do know is that our family has decided we are “Once a Cowboy, Always a Cowboy” kind of people. We will continue to fight for what we believe is best for our kids’ future, neighbor.
Jody Harris is a freelance communications specialist, gardener, ranch wife and mother of four. She and her family raise Angus beef cattle and other critters on their northwest Arkansas ranch. She is a graduate of Missouri State University. To contact Jody, go to ozarksfn.com and click on ‘Contact Us.’