Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MoreMarin Buzz Home: Tam High reunion invitation brouhaha

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tam High reunion invitation brouhaha

An invitation to a local high school reunion has caused the fur to fly in Marin.

(Click to enlarge)

The invite for a class reunion for Tamalpais High School class of 1980, contains images that are offensive-- or at the very least-- insensitive. The invitation in question has a graphic of the now-banned former school name and mascot, the Tamalpais High Indians. In addition, an old image of a flirty Indian maid is also pictured. The mascot was changed to the Red Tailed Hawks in 1990.

The Pacific Sun's Nikki Silverstein mentioned the invite in her Hero and Zero column chastising the senders of the invitation for their insensitivity to Native Americans.

But it didn't end there.

What followed were a torrent of commenters on the Pacific Sun website slamming Silverstein for being too PC in her condemnation. A sample of some of the comments--

"Wow! When did Ms. Silverstein become the annointed moral barometer for Marin?"
  • "We were the TAMALPAIS INDIANS you and your PC NAZIS, yes nazis, can't change that and if you weren't a TAM INDIAN, why do you care"
  • "Dear Ms. Silverstein, what is wrong with the country quite frankly is...YOU! You and all the crones that harbor this politically correct agenda that is primarily designed to control people."

    Several commenters defend Ms. Silverstein, but they seem to be far fewer. We agree with the detractors in that it's one thing to use the images in a historical context; it's quite another to use them for marketing purposes. But what is really upsetting, are the vitriolic comments aimed at Silverstein.

    The story is beginning to make its way into the blogosphere. The reunion takes place at the end of August which means there is enough time for it to really heat up.

    Posted by Pam Gould at 10:55 AM in Mill Valley, What's With That?! | Permalink



    GO Indians! Schools - probably their coaches picked original team names I guess, and I doubt any were ever chosen to degrade
    or defame the people who's images were used.
    To the contrary, warriors, and indians and
    fierce animals were chosen to instill a spire of respect, dignity, and even admiration for the culture of ancients and native peoples. The fact that a few indians
    or others are personally offended by teams
    using their names is really unfortunate. I think they would be happier with a more positive attitude! Posted by a old Woodrow
    Wilson HS, Warrior(Greek style)70'

    Posted by: Tonyboysf | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 12:31 PM

    Tam Indian

    Go Indians! Class of '85.

    Thinking I'll attend this reunion to honor our mascott.

    Posted by: Tam Indian | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 12:38 PM


    Yeah, enough of this crap. Let's get down to a real politics of change. Give money to a land trust, volunteer to help others, work on a campaign to balance city and county budgets, serve your darn jury duty. This endless cultural politics is tiresome.

    Posted by: icarus13 | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 12:42 PM

    An Indian From The Class of 1980

    Additionally: Go (Fremont High School, S'vale) Indians!

    Screw PCism!

    Fremont Firebirds ... sheesh! What a joke.

    Posted by: An Indian From The Class of 1980 | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 12:50 PM


    LOLZ - Are they gonna open up a Casino Night and sell discount cigs? Get Lives people! Where's the outrage over Obambi and Boosh letting the Mexi's over the border like it ain't even there?

    Posted by: m | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    In God we Trust

    This non-substantive PC crap is getting old. Focus on substantive issues like the economy, the quality of the educations our children are receiving, and the cost of government.

    Posted by: In God we Trust | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 12:53 PM


    Pekin High School in 1980 changed their mascot from the Pekin Chinks to the Pekin Dragons.

    If people can only understand that with the naming of a mascot by using only certain ethnic groups, demeans the people as non-human.

    Posted by: DPendragon | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 01:11 PM


    Clearly the commenters above have never been on the other side of a stereotype or discrimination. This isn't just some "PC crap." Harmful stereotypes continue to be taught in schools and homes throughout the country, and this has real consequence to people like me.

    First off, I am not saying that we should act as if the "Indian" never was the Tam High mascot. The problem is specifically the way the mascot is depicted (on a "Wanted" poster.)

    But the defenders really have me concerned. You could use the same rationale to support celebrating other "charming traditions" -- like the one at my high school where African-Americans had an "exclusive" seating area at lunch and on the football bench (they were kept off the field.) Or the tradition of a publicly funded organization in my former east coast community that blocked any minorities from applying for membership, in honor of their town's history of KKK activity.

    The way the Indian mascot is shown on the Tam High reunion flyer perpetuates such harm. I had hoped that at least in Marin we had evolved enough to recognize that such stereotypes are part of our history, not our present.

    Posted by: SFDoug | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 01:15 PM


    You can't re-write history. This is what the team was called, and no amount of touchy-feely PC "sensitivity" can change that. Nikki, shut up! Teams use powerful images for their team names. Naming a team "Indians" was an homage to Indians, who most people I know would consider to be brave and resourceful and tough. It's like the Fighting Irish or the Boston Celtics. It's a honor, not an insult. Maybe Nikki S. doesn't like sports or just doesn't understand that. The images, like all team mascot images, are cartoons or caricatures, which are not always flattering, but look at the look of fierce resolve on the mascot's face shown in the picture. It's meant to be a young Native American who is tough and determined. That's what comes through when I look at it. The little girl in the bottom corner is just plain cute.

    Posted by: Mike | Wednesday, July 28, 2010 at 01:18 PM

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    The comments on this are getting really nasty. It would be great if more people would chime-in so that the extremists don't think they are correct.

    Posted via email from Doug's posterous

    A conversation worth joining: sad signs of insensitivity in Marin

    The Pacific Sun's latest "Heroes and Zeroes" column mentions the invitation for a Tam High reunion that prominently features the school's former "American Indian" mascot on a wanted poster. That mascot was replaced a while back because it was recognized as insensitive to Native Americans, among others. Using an "Indian" on a wanted poster may have been tasteless enough, but what really worries me is that the writer of the column, Nikki Silverstein, has gotten absolutely appalling criticism for it.

    People are defending it because it was "part of their history." As Nikki has responded, we could use that same basis to bring back such "charming" icons as "Little Black Sambo." (The comments publicly on are disturbing. Some comments made by Nikki's "friends" on Facebook are even more so.)

    I wrote a letter to the editor citing "charming traditions" that could be "celebrated" using the same rationale, like the "exclusive" seating area at lunch for African-American students at the high school I went to, or the fire department in a rural Maryland community that blocked any minorities from applying, in honor of their town's history of KKK activity.

    It might be nice if others would join the conversation and help educate these "history buffs." Visit to submit comments for the web site or letters to the editor for possible publication. As I said in my comments, there are ways the old mascot could have been used without being offensive, but the wanted poster -- and its defenders -- are just plain wrong.

    Columns - Friday, July 23, 2010

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    Hero and Zero


    HERO: The sudden onset of vertigo incapacitated Eric Overholt last Saturday as he walked home from the Marin City Library. Barely able to stand, he grabbed onto a street sign. A woman waiting at the nearby bus stop took his number and contacted his wife. She then gave him water and found a man to help her get Eric over to a bench. The pair waited with him until his wife arrived. Although Eric doesn't have their names, he wants to thank the kind people who assisted him. "For all the bad press Marin City receives, I am glad that I live in a community where strangers are still willing to help others," said Eric. We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

    ZERO: What happened to progressive, tolerant Marin? Last week, a former San Marin High student and his friend allegedly committed a hate crime by spray-painting racist graffiti on school walls. This week, an invitation to the Tam High Class of 1980 reunion came our way—the invite uses an image of the school's now-banned American Indian name and mascot—posted onto an Old West "Wanted" poster of all things—as well as a sexed-up caricature of a female Native American. We hope this insensitivity doesn't become a weekly occurrence in our fine county.—Nikki Silverstein

    Posted via email from Doug's posterous