Fred Kroner: Nicknames don't bother ex-Redskin
Becky Clayton Anderson played high school basketball for a team called the Redskins (Sullivan).
In the fall, she’ll have a daughter entering high school where the team nickname is the Braves (Mount Zion).
An interesting coincidence, but not the reason the 1991 News-Gazette girls’ basketball All-State co-Player of the Year can speak with authority about sports teams with Native American images as mascots.
She is the daughter of a full-blooded Native American, which makes Anderson “half-Indian,” she said.
Whenever she hears about another controversy surrounding the use of Native American symbols, Anderson said, “I roll my eyes and give a sigh. There’s always something going on, and I don’t understand why.
“Sometimes people aren’t happy unless they’re in a headline-grabbing situation and have a cause to stand up for.”
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Anderson takes pride in her heritage and, in fact, is a frequent visitor to the reservation in North Dakota where she still has family.
She is struck by a nickname chosen for one of the reservation’s largest high schools.
“Injuns,” Anderson said. “High schools up there have those mascots.”
When she speaks with friends and relatives on the reservation, there’s not anger about the continued national use of Native American representations. If it’s not an issue for her family, and others close to them, she wonders why is it a topic continually championed by others?
“No one has ever said, ‘I can’t believe there’s an NFL team that calls themselves Redskins,’ ” said Anderson, who owns Physician’s Choice Wellness clinics in four central Illinois communities including Sullivan. “It’s not a concern to my relatives.”
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Anderson’s mother, the former Sevenia Bracklin, was a member of the Hidatsa tribe, an affiliation of the Sioux.
“She told us to be proud to be (Sullivan) Redskins,” Anderson said. “It never bothered her. I teach my children the same thing.”
If anything, Anderson believes the use of nicknames such as Redskins, Braves or Seminoles helps keep shrinking minorities prominent in the public’s eye.
“I don’t think it’s disrespectful or making light of the heritage,” she said. “Let tradition go and leave them alone. Every time I hear (protesters), I have the same reaction.
“I’m glad Sullivan has stayed strong and kept their mascot,” Anderson said.
Fred Kroner is The News-Gazette’s executive sports editor. He can be reached by phone at 217-351-5235, by fax at 217-373-7401 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @fredkroner.