Teton Redskins - What Does an 83% "Positive Past" Mindset Mean?
The below research is based on the occurrences primarily at NAPA High School which was thrown into turmoil when outside political groups, separatists, Adidas Corp., all pressured (and funded) the school board to change their long-held symbol against the student body and community's wishes.
What may be taken away from this tragedy are topics to consider in the debate, it’s important for the school board to consider the social science impact on the students found in one-time APA Psychologist Phil Zimbardo's book "The Time Paradox" - my mentor - which identifies “historic” mindsets and their associated behaviors.
The ramifications of Zimbardo’s work will provide those engaged in the Teton Redskin Warrior debate a more thorough understanding of the current anti-Indian “information campaign” – or more importantly – it will provide some basic understanding on how the campaign against the long-held Indian tradition may have already impacted the mental well-being of your High School students.
It's very important to recognize that the opposition's primary source in eradicating your Redskin Warrior symbol is Dr. Stephanie Fryberg's 2005 methodologically flawed "research" which eventually was 're-done' in 2008 where this final recommendation - to allow schools to keep their "mascots" - is often left out of literature forwarded by the change movement.
Indeed, Fryberg and three co-authoring PHDs (Stanford and U. of Michigan) acknowledge that schools may keep their native symbols if they simply, "...create, distribute, and institutionalize a broader array of social representations of American Indians."
They opine that - like Zimbardo - a student's 'future self' would benefit as broadening the Native identity context "...would communicate to both natives and non natives that, beyond the historically constituted roles as Indian princesses and warrior chiefs, there exist other viable and desirable ways to be American Indian in contemporary mainstream society."
This is where I, Zimbardo, NAGA and Fryberg (et all) all seem to agree that offering positive context, education and an ability to any student to view both traditional AND contemporary Native heroes, culture and art offer the more sophisticated win/win your community needs.
Finally, this essay may offer some way forward in adopting a Native American & Zimbardo-style recommendation on a peaceful and balanced recovery of your community from what is currently a path that has proven to be disastrous to any community where the school board has been swayed by organizations such as the Center for American Progress - connected to the DNC - which purposefully leaves out their own expert's solutions in their "Mascot" agenda.
While most leaders on the School Board seem to be discussing the monetary costs of what seems to be certain school name change, debate considering the mental well-being of the student body is hard to find.
Indeed, since this campaign started, some Teton students and residents may now be feeling emotionally cut off from others, irritated or may be having angry outbursts.
At worst, they may have even lost interest in being an Redskin Warrior based on what’s been conveyed to them by the change campaign talking points or even some activist teachers. If any of these signs are already visible, your students may be suffering from early signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or PTSD.
These symptoms may occur after activist groups were allowed to run what is a well-rehearsed and threatening “information campaign”. PTSD-like signs can occur among students who have internalized the threat to the “life” of their beloved symbol – and feel they have “no control” over their ability to help save their Redskin from the overtly one sided hostile attacks. Indeed, reports of intimidation by students from teachers have surfaced at Teton High School and these are from students courageous enough to report it - most stay quiet for fear of retribution through grades or means.
Similarly, lack of control is what sent these High School students racing out of class by the 100s and into the streets of New York when another school lost their "mascot" to an outside activist group and the school. This is also what we have seen at Teton and the correlation must be realized.
And, four years after the Lancaster Redskin loss (a campaign where President Obama took a role by having his Secretary of Education weigh in despite the overwhelming resistance by the students and community), the school has still not recovered psychologically where vandalism, a polarized school board and booster club donations (down by 80%) are now newly persistent problems for the community the activists left behind when they moved onto their next target.
Additionally, every school board member who voted out their Redskin under pressure in this New York example immediately lost their seat in the next election. Correspondence with that school board just last week revealed that the chasm caused by this politically inspired attack is still wide, still painful. (correspondence and lines of communication to this school board - and to others which pushed back and kept their Redskin Warrior symbol may be made available upon request)
So, the question every school board member at Teton High School should be asking is:
“What are the short and long term impacts to the students and community in allowing the negative DeColonization and cultural segregation scripts to run unchallenged by race-based activists?”
Well, beyond the potential signs of PTSD, the NAPA Calif Indian's in-school survey suggests that the children there had already been impacted only a few months into their attack (by the same organization attacking Teton).
And, as has been seen nationally at other native-named schools, the division-inducing campaign - taken up by the school board - against the NAPA Indian placed their students and community into two distinct groups who are now intellectually pitted against each other.
Their survey showed us that 17 percent of NAPA students absorbed the “Changer’s” point of view and may have be reasonably classified by Zimbardo’s model as then having High “Past Negative” Mindsets. This is based on the historically negative and race-segregation, negative "racist" basis of the “Changer’s” logic and past history story lines.
Zimbardo describes this group:
'If the people in a culture that uses the past to evaluate current situations share a past trauma, they are likely to want revenge. These people a likely to promote violence and a vendetta mentality undercuts attempts at peaceful reconciliation as new generations are obligated to avenge crimes against prior generations.
Meanwhile, the 83 percent who listened to yet withstood the “changer's” negative past narratives and carried on with their Indian-namesake heritage in a balanced way may be classified as High “Past Positive” as described by Zimbardo:
To the extent that people share positive views of the past, they seek to maintain the status quo culturally and politically. These people seek to conserve and re-create in the present what was good in the past.'
In major behavioral studies, we can see that the “Past Negative” group differs from the “Past Positive” group in that Past Negative students are typically:
More Aggressive; More Anxious; Less Conscientious; Less Considerate; More Depressed; Less Stable; Less Friendly; Less Happy; have Lower Self Esteem and have Higher Tempers.
And, while anecdotal, it seems that some on NAPA’s football team fell into a predictable “Past Negative” physical behavior which was – until recently - an extremely rare occurrence.
Further when negative messaging is accepted wholesale, i.e. accepted by students without giving the message its due diligence, research or reflection… the message can act like an infection and spread unabated.
Critical thinking and honest two-sided debate isn’t just a Native way of problem solving, it is considered among communication scholars as the key method of inoculation in turning back the spread of a virulent, damaging or – as Zimbardo might suggest – an undeserved past-negative-centered narrative.
While debate and critical thinking may not sway a student or even a school board member who is now dug into a post-decision defensive mode - someone in a confirmation-bias mindset - Past-Negative minded people can recover toward a positive path, argues Zimbardo, ‘by seeking to adapt the way they imagine their future’.
Zimbardo writes, “You can free yourself from your past and embrace the future by letting go of negative attitudes and nurturing positive attitudes toward the past.” He also notes that those who spend more times with family – core and extended – tend to find themselves in a “Positive Past” mindset.
Likewise, Teton High School can regain its long standing future-oriented spirit by embracing even closer its school name and symbol (as recommended by the changer's own expert), affiliating closer with native traditions and engage in a policy of ‘closeness’ with a region’s native “family” where research says among the non-political rank-and-file members, the vast majority have been found in stratified sampling to support fact-based and authentic Native-based public displays.
Moreover, the approach to keeping Teton's long held identity - even with minor modifications - parallels the Native American “N7” approach to decision making – which demands critical thinking and a future-oriented approach to all long-term plans.
Finally, both the Native American N7, Fryberg and Zimbardo’s psychological recommendations toward attaining a “Positive Past” provide a way forward for the Teton Redskin Warrior community.
To this end, the school board should strongly consider adding local and national Native American curricula, guided field trips and even a path – as is done at other schools – where non-native students might earn honorary tribal adoption by a local tribe for completing a series of historic, educational and community service tasks such that Teton High School Redskin Warrior students would be considered “Native American Cultural Ambassadors” as they enter into the next phase of their lives.
This is the win-win solution for all parties as there is nothing to be gained by the current ill-informed and rushed decision that will only to produce a “win-lose” outcome. Keep in mind here that your servicing newspaper - The Teton Valley News - is aggressively censored fact-based and positive Native American materials by two book authors. That said, the school board members might believe the community is on the "Change" side based on coverage alone - but that would be as big a mistake as the censorship is dishonest.
It seems the Changers, Adidas and the politically active Natives would have you vote in a "win-lose" scenario which promises no way forward for anyone and will absolutely promote the toxic “Past Negative” or anti-N7-mindset in the students and larger community. You and your students will regret such a decision if there's a rush to vote out the Redskin Warrior.
A fully informed community is paramount for a honest debate and and honest debate is necessary for the creation of a measured and thoughtful way forward. Right now, you have neither... be careful.
Image Description: The "Willie Wampum" image posted above is the type of "Mascot" that the traditional "Not Your Mascot" movement and NCAI rightfully sought to end.
However, what's clear is that Teton doesn't have a "Mascot" and the NCAI and CAP have appropriated this one-time positive anti-mascot movement and have turned it into one more aligned with the CAP's get out the Native vote and a Decolonization-based agenda.
It should be noted and questioned that - with all the claims made against the use of native symbols and its reported damage to native student (yet not supported by contemporary data nor from schools that don't have a "Mascot") is that the aforementioned groups don't campaign against majority Native American Warrior, Redskins, Braves or Chief-themed schools. Why is this?
Well, this important variance may be explained by the operational differentiation and logic laid out by the DeColonization movement's long term strategic goals found here where those"offended" aren't necessarily offended at the honorable use of the Redskin Warrior - after all the NCAI uses a Red Warrior as its own symbol - but it's that the Redskin Warrior being celebrated by non-Natives described as "settlers".
Andre Billeaudeaux was an award-winning research student of Stanford Psychologist Dr. Phil Zimbardo. He is published on such topics as “Communications Inoculation”, National Identity and Race. He is considered an "Expert" on the history and traditions of the Redskins - Redskin Warriors - by the State of Pennsylvania. His research on Redskins provided for the core argument seen in a Native leader's Federal Court Amicus Brief helping protect the native culture based on a philosophy of “Educate not Eradicate”. The goal of Educate not Eradicate is to propagate positive Native American education in schools, to include modification of imagery where necessary and to promote traditions among all culture groups as part of an education enhancement movement based on nation’s vision of E. Pluribus Unum or “From many we are one”.