Letter to Editor of Wisconsin Newspaper- addressing Native American Stereotypes


The Wisconsin State Journal newspaper published this story on the Iron Man triathlon, where some supporters of the participants dressed up in costumes.  One person dressed up as a Native American.

Here’s a link to the story:

http://host.madison.com/wsj/news/local/article_353ac024-bec0-11df-ab91-001cc4c002e0.html

I felt this story needed to be addressed. I have enclosed the letter to the editor I have sent.

September 14, 2010

To the Editor of the Wisconsin State Journal:

I am writing in response to a story posted September 12, 2010 about the “Triathletes met with encouragement in costume” by Samara Kalk Derby.  The picture shown with a man dressed as a Native American, wearing a loincloth and headdress is an appalling and a blaring image of a stereotype of Native Americans conveying that we are only here to amuse you.  Native Americans are not a character for your paper’s entertainment. 

What is more upsetting is that Wisconsin recently was the first state to pass a law that banned Race-Based School Team names and logos. Many Native Americans were glad that Wisconsin stepped it up a notch to recognize that stereotypes of Native Americans should not be tolerated.

With this story, your paper has diminished Native peoples role as a person to a thing to be laughed at and unknowingly encouraging others that it is all right to do this.  I would hope that young children were not exposed to these actions, because they may get the perception that it is okay to make fun of another race.  If a child saw this man dressed as a Native American, then they think, it is acceptable to dress like a Native American and the cycle continues.

The Native American Journalists Association is against any stereotypes of Native people.  We would ask that your paper question the use of this picture and ask, could it offend any of our readers? Are any of our readers Native American?  If you would like any information regarding these types of issues, our organization is willing to help out.

Sincerely,

Rhonda LeValdo

President, Native American Journalists Association

RhondaLeValdo@gmail.com

Native American Journalists Association
OU Gaylord College
395 W Lindsey
Norman, Oklahoma 73019-4201
405 325-9008 or http://www.naja.com

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