VIDEO: Kids Use Music to Combat Indian Mascots

Photo courtesy Melissa Leal / Thirty kids in California participated in a music video to combat racist Indian mascots.

VIDEO: Kids Use Music to Combat Indian Mascots

These kids have a message for the Washington pro football team, the Cleveland Indians, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves, and any other sports team or school with a Native American moniker:

“We are not your mascot tomorrow or today.”

In a music video released Tuesday, 30 youths of the Title VII program at Elk Grove Unified School District in Sacramento, California, make a stand against Native American mascots, stating in harmony, “We’re not your ‘chiefs.’ We are not your ‘warriors.’ We’re not your ‘Indians.’ We’re not your ‘braves.’ We stand tall. We stand proud. Ask Natives … with no shame.”

In the video, the kids wore T-shirts reading, “Not a Mascot,” donated to them by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation of Brooks, California. In June of 2014, the same nation purchased airtime during the N.B.A. finals to run an anti-R-word spot. The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is an avid supporter of the Change the Mascotcampaign, a collective effort by the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation to see that the name of the Washington pro football team is abolished.

Title VII Program Director Nelson Chaske procured Dr. Melissa Leal, Esselen and Ohlone, and a musician named EchoSlim of Trinidad, to come up with a summer project for the students. Leal immediately thought a music video was apropros.

“I knew that they would be receiving the [“Not a Mascot”] T-shirts, so I thought that it would be a perfect opportunity to engage the students in the discussion of mascots and write a song about it together as a group,” Leal wrote in an email to ICTMN.

Leal said she and Echoslim both were inspired to make the video based on indigenous hip-hop projects in Australian aboriginal communities. Next, the pair will film another video in couple of weeks covering a different topic with kids of the Wilton Rancheria Band of Miwok Indians in California, where Leal is the director of education.