The University Echo - Thursday, January 25, 1996 p5

"Circle Wagons and Save Our Chief!" Says Student

Dear Editor,

Lately there has been a storm brewing in the clouds above UTC. This tempest involves the use of Chief Moccanooga as the University's mascot. This controversy seems to have come to a head in the Chattanooga Free Press as of January 14, 1996.

Dr. Nicholas Honerkamp of UTC believes the mascot should "go the way of the buffalo" as it is a character based upon popular stereotypes and not representative of the Indians who inhabited this region. He goes on to say that the age of human mascots at colleges and universities has passed and that UTC should make steps to follow this new trend of adopting innocuous animal and other non-human mascots. However, he offers what seems to be a compromise by suggesting lhe cheerleaders and people from the UTC athletic department meet with representatives from the Chattanooga Inter-Tribal Association to see how members of the local Native American community feel about the use of Chief Moccanooga.

Rebecca Carlisle, editor of the "Echo," takes the stand that the Chief should stay as most, if not all, the protests have come from outside the University Community. However, the most pressing issue at UTC, according to Ms. Carlisle is not the mascot but the physical plant at the University. As a student, I can relate to her complaints of student housing shortages, library budget shortfalls and an old and unsafe math building. A mascot change could be very costly. Like Ms. Carlisle, i believe Chief Moccanooga should stay while the energies and finances of the university should be devoted to more pressing matters.

Bill Casteel's "Byline" in the "Chattanooga Times" on January 17, 1996 has thrown a whole new tomahawk into the works. According to Casteel's interview with Nancy and Alva Crowe, the Chattanooga Inter-Tribal Association Dr. Honerkamp alluded to has not existed for quite some time. Also, tom kunesh, who claims to be spokesperson for this organization, was never appointed or chosen to serve in that capacity and his own claims of being a Lakota Sioux may be false. The Crowe's do find Chief Moccanooga "a bit silly and out-of-character" but not offensive. They do, however, find kunesh's behavior to be extremely offensive.

As a UTC student who loves the school, I resent the outside attacks tom kunesh has brought against us. I think any changes of this sort should be handled within the University community alone without any outside interference. The students and alumni of the university need to band together and fight to save our chief! If these outside attacks continue, we should do what was done in those "lousy Hollywood western" Dr. Honerkamp spoke of. We should circle our wagons and hope for the best.

William Killeffer
Chattanooga junior

The University Echo
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nothingness on a field of maroon    tom kunesh's response

Dear Editor,

As with Bill Casteel and The Chattanooga Times, i suggest you get your facts straight before repeating libelous accusations and resulting legal action. Please review The Times' "Correction" of tuesday, january 23, page A2, and the Editor's Note by Paul Neely entitled "Setting records straight", Metro section, saturday, january 27, 1996, page B1. I will request The Times' Managing Editor Ron Smith and my attorney Jes Beard call you and confirm the bag of shit that you have stepped in by not checking the facts.

Regarding UTC junior Killeffer's letter: the only point Killeffer makes, apart from ad hominem attacks, is that he doesn't like community involvement in the internal affairs of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Funny, i thought community involvement in UTC's athletic program is what keeps it funded and alive. Imagine a university in which the local community is prohibited from interaction with the Ivory Tower, insulated and isolated, a bastion of academia unbreechable and unsympathetic to the community in which it resides, reactive to every comment and criticism from "outsiders," continuing the battle between Town and Gown. Curious, from my days as an undergraduate and graduate student, this is the antithesis of a vibrant, growing institution of higher education.

Killeffer further demonstrates a very typical brand of racism--reactionism: "Leave us and our racist traditions alone! We like them! We can define and imitate anybody we want to, and screw them if they don't like it." The Klan wouldn't say it any better.

If the mascot isn't racist, i'd like Killeffer to personally tackle the one argument that i've suggested that no student or literary agent of any local periodical has ever addressed:
Mr. Killeffer: please go to a UTC Mocs basketball game dressed as a fictional African "Chief Shaza-kulu" and in black-face, and at halftime perform a stereotypical Native African dance for the entertainment of the observing audience. If the imitation is not racist, then i presume you will not have offended our Brothers and you will live. If, however, offense is taken by the African American community by your "bit silly and out-of-character" pantomime, i hope your health and life insurance policies are paid up.

Or just ask the UTC Athletics Department or Public Relations Office what they think of the idea. Better, just ask the African American fraternities and sororities if they think it's a fun, non-racist idea.

My bet is that every African American on the UTC campus can easily spot the superficial racism that hides behind white boys acting out their ideas of African warriors. Is it that great a leap for white students to make in understanding that the same kind of racism is latent within white boys playing in Native American regalia?

Sincerely yours,

tom kunesh

Public Relations Committee chair
Chattanooga InterTribal Association (CITA)
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