I am an activist. Have been most of my adult life. I happen to be a known expert on the Mascot issue (as in the use of American Indians as school/sports mascot). This past week I was asked to speak at an event. First there was a documentary film and then I spoke.
Some of our faculty members offer their students extra credit to attend these types of events. The day after, a faculty member sent me an e-mail one of her students wrote in completion of her extra credit assignment.
"In watching the Mascot video, a lot of aspects of how American culture perceives Indian culture now strikes me as disrespectful. I never even gave a second thought to why mascots with names such as "Red Skins" would be offensive until I saw the reaction and heard the arguments from Indians themselves. There were many measures taken to ban use of Indian related names and mascots for sports and there has been much success in middle schools, high schools, and college to further these restrictions.
The guest speaker moved me so much because she has such a passion for what she does. Her job is to go to schools and teach people about how to respect Indian culture and how sacred values are to Indians. She is a descendant of the California Indians who had been almost completely wiped out. She reached me deeply as she spoke about how important it is for her to protect her culture and to try and revive what is left of it. Her songs she sang in her native language were beautiful and she emphasized that learning her language is so important because now she can actually pray in a voice that her ancestors can understand. She was truly an inspiration to me and she compels me to reach further into my heritage and be proud of where I came from, my history, and who I am today."
I was offered a stipend for my services which I usually donate to the sponsoring organization of the event. This e-mail is the type of payment I prefer.