Recently, in my social work class we learned about the history of the American Indian population within the United States. We learned about the horrible and tragic injustices acted upon them by the United States government and we saw through a documentary the kinds of poverty they live in currently. About 80% of American Indian adult’s struggle with alcoholism. This is a crippling epidemic within their community and something that the rest of the country doesn’t acknowledge because it is hidden within the boundaries of reservations.
So why am I writing about the struggles of the American Indian population? I write about their problems because unofficial is quickly approaching at the University of Illinois and apparel is selling all over campus. Before you buy unofficial apparel with the chief logo on it, please take a second to consider what a symbol representing a culture isolated by alcoholism would mean being sold on a shirt for drinking purposes?
I know that many students on this campus may say that they really don’t care or don’t find it offensive. But in this day in age it is important to be culturally competent and know that cultural appropriation is something that is in fact offensive to many minority groups including the indigenous people.
To conclude, I know it is hard to always know whether or not something is offensive to a particular group or culture; we cannot always be well read on every culture that exists. However, this article can serve as your reminder that wearing clothing with the chief symbol on it, especially for unofficial is not okay and something that is very easy to avoid doing.