MISHICOT, Wis. (WFRV) — Following Washington D.C.’s NFL team’s decision to officially review its mascot, advocates against Native American mascots are optimistic about what the move could mean locally.
“I didn’t think I’d be around to see that happen,” Richie Plass, Owner and Curator of Bittersweet Winds told Local 5 Monday, “and I’m amazed that it is happening.”
Plass was a part of a group that came together to protest last year’s Packers game against Washington.
He thinks that, on a national level, the message he has long championed is starting to spread.
“I think that people are starting to understand, that have these names and support these names are finding out that we as First Nations people, we’re still here,” he said. “We shouldn’t be used to make money, our names and our images are very sacred to us.”
He’s hoping that is a realization that local school districts still using Native Americans as mascots will come to.
“If you want to honor us, invite us to your school, invite us to your community, find out the rich heritage of your community, find out the heritage of the people that were there and incorporate all that into your classrooms and into your education,” Plass said.
He says previous attempts to get districts to make a change have come up empty.
“They go, ‘no, we’re the real Indians. You’re not Indians, we are,'” Plass said.
He told Local 5 that anyone who makes that argument doesn’t understand what being an American Indian means.
“We have to legally identify ourselves and get identified by blood quantum and a number issued to us by the federal government,” Plass said. “The Indians in Mishicot don’t have to.”
Local 5 reached out to the Mishicot School District for comment but have not yet heard back.