Chilocco Indian School – Basketball Team – 1908-1909. Before Hitler came along & destroyed the symbol, it meant “good luck,” & other representations in Native American culture.
It is amazing how symbols can be bastardized due to some crazy or ugly dynamics. The “Swastika” has many origins. From the Moors – Bronze age and the Tang Dynasty, the Hook Cross- Running Wheel has been a symbol for many different societies and with different meanings. The one we immediately identify the Four Lines Bent Lines with is that of the murderous Hitler’s Germany of the Second World War, regardless of where it came from and who used it.
That is the thing about symbols, things, flags, images and words. Some rotten piece of shit can steal it for their own ugliness.
“Because of its use by Nazi Germany, the swastika since the 1930s has been largely associated with Nazism and white supremacy in most Western countries. As a result, all of its use, or its use as a Nazi or hate symbol is prohibited in some countries, including Germany. Because of the stigma attached to the symbol, many buildings that have contained the symbol as decoration have had the symbol removed.” It might be really difficult to reclaim this symbol right now because it has become to represent something so evil in a not to distant past.
Other things are starting to be reclaimed. We know that words are powerful just as an image can be. You look at the Gay community. Not too long ago the word gay was another way to say happy. Now it is name for the homosexual community. The word queer has been claimed as well. Once a word that meant that something or someone was “off”, weird, peculiar is now a word that has power to it. The gay community has taken a word that was derogatory to them and made it their own word of power and pride. A little while ago people used the word “Geek” as a put down. Now people are self identifying as Geeks and Nerds. The words started with a negative meaning and now if you are a Geek or a Nerd its like you are a superhero. Even stupid people are calling themselves geeks.
Some words are harder to claim but the movement is there. A television sitcom called Blackish had an episode on reclaiming the notorious “N” Word. You know Nigga. But you see the word is a little different from the real N word, Nigger. Where as now the word Nigga is being used by artists, the young to talk to each other. Not always in a real negative way. Still its not a word that people are comfortable with. The original word Nigger was used in a vile demeaning manner and in a time that was just pure ugly. So even taking back the word in this new form is a hard sell for many.
In Quebec a controversy is underway with the continued place names that use the N word in its old from. 11 places that have Nigger in it could be changed. One Mayor doesn’t want the word to be changed.
With some words and symbols there is a wide divide on if it is even offensive or not. Look at the Redskin a professional sports team in the U.S, can you get that? The funny thing is that these people who own and support the team see absolutely nothing wrong with that? While many (if not all) Natives find the term quite racist. For some reason it is a staple for professional teams? Another professional sports team (Cleveland Indians) has a racist caricature of a Native as their logo. People (not Native people) have claimed the names and the images in both of these teams. There are five professional sports teams and numerous college teams right now in the U.S with names or images that are offensive. While the Native people not only see this as a racist promotion but also and outright attack on their identity. Some Natives are somewhat comfortable with images that are not as blatantly racist and with the names as well. While others are very sure and right in their stance against the use of image or name. With some claims on symbols, it is hard to take them away. The use of the Redskin image and name is a battle that has been going on for a long time. The use of Redskin is being used by Natives among themselves but theirs is a relatively small circle compared to the money circle of professional sports.
Some things will be hard to reclaim, while some things shouldn’t be claimed. You see it is important. The word for Blacks has such an ugly history of course they are going to battle to see that the history is not forgotten. Same with the four running lines, that image is hard to be reclaimed because of the horror associated. The words being owned by groups for their identity is powerful and a statement. While some people claiming a word an image for their own without regard for the people the image reflects is just wrong. It should not be claimed. They are not making that image clean or shiny but rather there making it a like it is not real but just a thing and Not a whole segment of society.