Venice High School Indians mascot under fire

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Posted: Friday, August 1, 2014 5:33 pm

SARASOTA, Fla. -- The debate over Native-American mascots has now made its way to the Suncoast. A Sarasota resident who's Native-American says he wants Venice High School to stop using its Indian mascot.

It's on the street sign, the building, and almost every sign associated with the venice high. They are the indians. It's been their mascot since the 40s, but the years of tradition are now being challenged.


"Venice High and their cartoonish character, its not relevant to any of the Indians who've lived here in the state of Florida, its very cartoonish and offensive to me and many native Americans," says Sarasota resident Sal Serbin, a Native-American who's part of the Sioux nation.

Serbian says the term “Indians,” along with the images and symbols of “Indians” used on a regular basis, strike a negative chord every time he witnesses them at games.

"Everything that is done there on the Venice side of things, and also the opponents side, because they also have offensive things where they get little figures dolls, drawings and do derogatory things to Native-Americans, and it’s something that needs to stop," Serbin says.

But there are those that disagree, saying the word Indian and the associated images are not meant to be derogatory.

"I've had three kids go to high school here and graduate here -- we go to all the baseball, football, basketball games -- its just, “Go Indians,” a slogan, nothing bad," says Steve Price.

And he's not alone in his thoughts.

"I think Venice Indians is just fine," says Shirley Johnson.

"I think the whole situation is just silly,” said Robert [last name withheld]. “People should have other things to worry about.”

But Serbin says the cartoon depictions of Native-Americans and the word “Indians” have an entirely different connotation that's difficult to understand for non-Native-Americans.

"The ‘N’ word, for another good example that we've seen people have lost their job [for using],” Serbin says. “Yet with Native-Americans, people feel they can do whatever they want to us and our culture and its fine. And its not -- we don't like that.”

And that's the message Serbin presented to the Sarasota school board.

"Were in the early stages of the 21th century,” Serbin said. “Let’s not let the century continue on with the racism that dominated the 20th century."

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  • AIM Florida posted at 11:35 pm on Tue, Aug 5, 2014.

    AIM Florida Posts: 1

    I personally spoke with Joelene Malone for about 30 minutes after the 8/5/14 Sarasota School Board meeting. Sadly Ms. Malone knows nothing about American Indian Culture and Traditions. She said she felt proud being an Indian but she does not know what being an American Indian is, our history, beliefs, and traditions. I spoke of some of the offensive things I witnessed Venice school students doing and she seemed surprised that I was offended. It is sad that over 1800 Sarasota residents are supporting an offensive mascot that they know nothing about. That over 1800 Sarasota residents feel proud insulting, and promote a Racist cause that they have no knowledge of, about, history. When they know it offends an entire culture of people in Sarasota, Florida, and the United States. It is a shame that going into the 64th year of having this particular mascot, no one has ever done any research into the culture they "claim" are proud to support. Ms. Malone was a very nice level headed woman that again sadly knows nothing about the cause she is promoting. Perhaps they realize that if they actually researched this issue? They would realize that the Venice mascots are wrong and would want to change them to something that reflects more kindly and represents Sarasota better than the current mascot. After all Venice is The Shark's Tooth Capital of the World, why don't they have something that reflects that fact? Have a good day. Sal "White Horse" Serbin, Executive Director of the American Indian Movement-Florida

  • Solipslip posted at 2:18 pm on Tue, Aug 5, 2014.

    Solipslip Posts: 1

    Yep, we are in the 21st century. Welcome to the Age of the Obtuse!


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