California: Native Americans face violence over mascot removal

This was originally posted by Brenda Norrell at

California: Native Americans face violence over mascot removal

Contact: Mark Anquoe
American Indian Movement – West (415) 566-5788
Corine Fairbanks, American Indian Movement – Santa Barbara (805) 212-4947

Native Americans Face Violence and Intimidation Over Mascot Removal in Carpinteria

By American Indian Movement
Photos by Jimbo Simmons/AIM

CARPINTERIA, California – The small town of Carpinteria, California is the latest battleground in Native Americans’ fight against racism. The controversy over a supposedly “harmless” high school sports mascot has alienated the Native American population of Carpinteria, who have come to fear violent reprisals from the non-Native community.

The Carpinteria “Warriors” mascot is the standard Indian chief stereotype, complete with generic plains-style war bonnet and stoic gaze. The school logo consists of a spear with dangling feathers; a visual symbol also associated with plains Indian cultures. Last spring, 15 year old Chumash youth Eli Cordero voiced his objections to the use of this stereotypical imagery by Carpinteria High School. On April 22nd, 2008, he brought his concerns before the school board which then voted to retire the use of all Native American imagery.

Since the April 2008 decision, many citizens of Carpinteria have waged a campaign of terror against those who supported the school board’s decision, as well as the school board itself. A local businessman placed a quarter-page ad in the local newspaper explicitly naming and targeting Eli Cordero, the young student who originally brought the issue to the school board. Since that time, the 15 year old has received death threats and his family has been harassed. Some citizens of Carpinteria shouted racial epithets at John Orendorff, a Native American Army Reserve colonel who spoke at a school board meeting in favor of removing the racist imagery. One school board member was accosted in her own home by intruders who forcibly entered her home in the middle of the night and demanded that she change her position on the mascot issue. Following the attack, local police began escorting school board members to and from school board meetings.

Some Native American people have moved out of Carpinteria due to the climate of fear and anti-Indian sentiment. Ashleigh Brown, until recently a resident of Carpinteria, spoke of her decision to move away, “There is a community member who refused to do our printing for our cultural awareness event. Her son…started telling my roommate to keep my nose out of Carpinteria issues, or else I might regret it…So after other townspeople found out where I lived I decided to move out of Carpinteria.”

An organization called “Recall CUSD – Warrior Spirit Never Dies” (, has waged a largely successful campaign to discredit and oust the school board members who supported the anti-mascot measure. Having successfully installed pro-mascot sympathizers on the school board, there is now a petition to rescind the earlier decision and keep the racist imagery at the public high school. On January 27th, local Native American people organized a protest to voice their objection to the measure, and were met with verbal abuse by drivers and passers-by. One protester was hit with a rock thrown by an adult man shouting obscenities. This occurred despite the presence of a representative of the federal justice department, who was sent from Los Angeles to ensure proper police conduct and the safety of the demonstrators. Many local Native Americans, while supporting the anti-mascot effort, refused to join the protest, fearing violent reprisals
by the townspeople.

The next school board meeting in Carpinteria is scheduled for February 10th. At this meeting the board will hear from a committee which was formed to assess each specific Native American image on display at Carpinteria High School. The school board is then expected to adjourn until February 24th, when the vote to rescind the previous ruling will be held. Protests and counter-protests are expected at both board meetings.



Family finds Lakota oral history

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A rare, original oral history of Indian life has surfaced in the Twin Cities and it’s one of the oldest known examples of its kind. In 1910, Lakota Chief Martin White Horse dictated stories about his community, located on a reservation in South Dakota. After the oral history, called a winter count, was typed up, the transcript went into storage. There it lay for decades, forgotten about. The descendants of the white woman who typed up the document rediscovered it last summer, and opened up a window to the history of the Lakota and to their own family.

Worthington, Minn. — The 32-page narrative is now in the Edina home of 25-year-old Libby Holden and her family. The document is a simple looking binder of legal-size paper with red margins on both sides of the sheets. Some of the cream colored pages are a little tattered at the edges. Holden said her great-grandmother typed out the oral history nearly 100 years ago.

“The front page says ‘transcript of the pictorial history of the Sioux nation as kept by the White Horse family. Told by Chief White Horse of White Horse Station, Cheyenne River Indian Reservation, South Dakota, on September 8th, 1910’,” Holden said.

The First Chocoholics: Native Americans Imported Cacao From 1,200 Miles Away

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The chemical signatures of chocolate have been found on pottery shards in New Mexico dating from 1000 A.D., indicating that the practice of drinking chocolate had reached North America 400 years earlier than expected–and that the imbibers went to great lengths to procure the delicacy. The nearest source for the cacao, which was made into a bitter beverage used in religious and other rituals, was more than 1,200 miles to the south in Mexico [Los Angeles Times].

Traces of the cacao seeds that are the source of chocolate were found in shards from cylinder jars found at Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. The site was occupied by the Chaco culture for millenniums, but it grew rapidly beginning about AD 900. The multistory pueblo itself contains an estimated 800 rooms [Los Angeles Times]. One of those rooms housed a collection of 111 tall, cylindrical vessels, and anthropologist Patricia Crown had been puzzling over their use. Previously, researchers thought that Spanish conquistadors carried the first cacao seeds to North America centuries later.

Settlement shrouded fish kill

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The Boy Scouts of America’s Monterey Bay Council operated a summer dam on a pristine river and — despite official warnings — allegedly killed federally protected steelhead trout downstream.

And when state and federal regulators sought to have the dam removed, Scout executives turned to politicians to whom they had given campaign contributions or with whom they had personal ties.

The Scout council avoided fines and quietly secured a favorable settlement agreement that, until now, has obscured a full account of its conduct at Camp Pico Blanco on the Little Sur River, north of the rugged Big Sur coast.

Rid Utah of foreign countries’ nuclear waste

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One of my first actions in this new Congress is to renew the fight to stop foreign countries from shipping their radioactive waste to America for disposal in Utah.

A bipartisan bill I first introduced last year has now been reintroduced in both the House and in the Senate. The Radioactive Import Deterrence Act (HR 515) – RID – has 55 cosponsors and is gaining support rapidly.

Sixteen years ago, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission was warned if it allowed nuclear waste to be imported into the United States, the country could turn into the world’s nuclear dumping ground.

Army to assess levels of uranium on Big Isle

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HILO » Airborne uranium levels will be measured by an Army contractor at three monitoring stations at Pohakuloa Training Area on the Big Island over the next 12 months, Col. Howard Killian told the Public Works Committee of the Hawaii County Council yesterday.

The $150,000 testing is being done because the Army discovered in 2007 that uranium “spotting rounds” were used at Pohakuloa in the 1960s.

Radiation monitoring from the Girl Scout camp near Pohakuloa to Konawaena High School nearly 30 miles to the southwest has not found any radiation above background level, Killian said.

World China to double nuclear power plants in 10 years – paper

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BEIJING, February 4 (RIA Novosti) – China intends to double the number of nuclear power plants in the next decade, The China Daily reported on Wednesday, citing government sources.

There are currently 11 nuclear power plants operational in the country with combined capacity of about 9 GW, supplying just 1.3% of the country’s energy needs, the paper said.

“China currently relies on coal power plants to supply about 80% of its total energy needs… The need to combat carbon emissions means that the country has to increase its nuclear power generation,” Fu Manchang, secretary general of the Chinese Nuclear Society, was quoted by China Daily as saying.