Monday, October 30, 2006

American Psychological Association Resolution on American Indian Imagery

In 2005, the American Psychological Association passed a resolution calling for the immediate retirement of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities used by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations.

The APA's Justification Statement for the resolution reads, in part:

“It is especially difficult when American Indian peoples are trying to present their tribal identity as accurately as possible, to have the dominant culture employ symbols, mascots, images and personalities that depict American Indians in an inaccurate and offensive manner (Staurowsky, 1999; Pewewardy, 1991).”

Here’s another excerpt from the APA Justification:

“The stereotyping of any racial, ethnic, or religious group by other groups and social institutions—especially public educational institutions and educators—had the potential to teach children and youth that stereotyping of ethnic minority groups is acceptable (US Commission on Civil Rights, 2001).”

A lot of people are inclined to dismiss stereotypical images in a children’s book because “it is just a children’s book.” Others defend dressing up as an Indian, especially if the Indian is/was a real and heroic person (i.e. Pocahontas), arguing that such actions are informative to the person dressing up that way, and potentially to those who the person interacts with while dressed that way. And still others cite freedom of expression, first amendment rights, etc.

Read the APA document and consider what we do, as individuals who create, edit, publish, review, and purchase children’s books with American Indian imagery. You can read the entire statement by clicking below or pasting the URL in your browser window:

Justification Statement

Resolution Recommending the Immediate Retirement of American Indian Mascots, Symbols, Images, and Personalities by Schools, Colleges, Universities, Athletic Teams, and Organizations

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have huge respect for psychologists and psychiatrists--I type up patient reports for several, have done so for years. Sometimes, I cry a little bit while typing up these patient's lives--it has been so hard for them.

If a professional organizaton of psychologists agrees on an issue like this, I'd say their opinion should be taken very serously indeed. You see, they deal every working day wtih the damages these kinds of stereotypical thinking cause in people's lives--PARTICULARLY the damages caused IN CHILDHOOD!

What may seem like a small, not very hurtful thing to adults can cause HUGE hurt to a child's heart--a hurt that no amount of help or counseling may be able to ever fully heal.