Nichola W. Tucker
Friday, December 1
Loud enough to penetrate the famous granite of New Hampshire, senior Michelle Davis’ strong words pulsated through the PA-system and reverberated across the Dartmouth College campus:
Usually bare, the lawn in front of the venerable Dartmouth Hall was packed, with people spilling over onto the side of the road–a surprising sight considering it was the last day of fall term classes, when students tend to lock themselves in the library in preparation for finals. But more than 600 students, faculty, and staff came together on the afternoon of Nov. 29 for a rally that banners, fliers, and emails advertised as “Solidarity Against Hatred.”
The previous day’s edition of The Dartmouth Review, with a cover depicting a scalp-wielding Native American and the headline “The Natives Are Getting Restless!,” mobilized members of the Dartmouth community to speak out at the end of a term plagued by allegations of racism, sexism, and intolerance. Six students and eight members of the faculty and administration, including Student Assembly President Tim Andreadis and college President James Wright, gave speeches condemning hateful expressions such as the Review‘s recent cover.
Since September, Dartmouth students have reported and sought help from the administration about a number of incidents perceived as offensive to Native American students. During freshman orientation, the Review sold T-shirts emblazoned with the college’s outdated Indian mascot, which College trustees eliminated in the early 1970s, but which the Review has publicly championed ever since. A group of fraternity pledges interrupted a Native American ceremony commemorating genocide by clapping, dancing, and then running through the center of a drum circle. Gamma Delta Chi members sold homecoming T-shirts depicting a Holy Cross crusader performing oral sex on a Native American. A crew team formal chose “Cowboys, Indians, and Barnyard Animals” as its unofficial theme.
Dartmouth’s history as a college founded to educate the youth of northeastern Native American tribes makes these recent representations and actions towards Native Americans particularly contentious. Students and alumni continue to be divided on how to reconcile the message of Dartmouth’s founding with the unofficial Native American mascot still in use by some today. The mascot’s detractors see the symbol as a stereotypical misappropriation of Native American culture that engenders inaccurate understanding of and insensitive behavior. Supporters of the old mascot argue that tradition should not be overshadowed by an attempt to placate the modern-day feelings of a small minority.