Issues surrounding Native American sports mascots and imagery in modern U.S. culture will be the topic of the next in a series of public forums presented by Fort Hays State University in partnership with the Hays Daily News.
"(Dis)Honoring Native Americans: Heritage or Heresy," 7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 10, in the Ballroom of Memorial Union on the FHSU campus, is part of the university's participation in the ongoing American Democracy Project, a national initiative to raise the levels of civic engagement on state colleges and universities.
Dr. Chapman Rackaway, FHSU campus director of the American Democracy Project, explained why the committee selected this topic.
"In light of recent NCAA legislation banning the use of Indian mascots for teams engaged in tournament play, local debate about the use of Civil War figures for building and street names in the Hays community, and many area schools with Indian mascots, we felt that this was a timely and controversial topic that deserved greater discussion throughout the Hays community."
Dr. Richard Heil, chair of the Department of Political Science and Justice Studies, will moderate the debate. Dr. Raymond Wilson, chair of the Department of History, will provide the historical framwork of this issue in western Kansas and the nation. Kurt Beyers, assistant director of University Relations, and Hays attorney and amateur historian Ross Wichman will speak in favor of the use of Native American mascots. Dr. Pete Coser, College of the Muscogee Nation, Oklahoma, and Mr. Studebaker Red Corn, University of Kansas, will speak in favor of the ban.
In keeping with last year's format, the first 30 minutes will consist of brief introductory remarks and position statements from each of the panelists. Following these opening statements, the floor will be open for public discussion and debate. Unlike a presidential or gubernatorial debate, participants are not just limited to asking questions of the panelists. This forum has been designed to encourage civil discourse about issues that often can be highly sensitive and charged with strong, emotional opinions on either side.
The first forum, last spring, met those goals and more, said Kent Steward, director of University Relations and chair of the ADP speakers series, and he looks forward to the event.
"Last year's forum on 'What's the Matter with Kansas?' brought the community and FHSU together for an excellent, highly engaging evening on the subject of current politics, and this forum promises to provide more of the same opportunity for debate," he said.
All are welcome to attend this free event. For more information, call (785) 628-4206 or visit the Web site at www.fhsu.edu/adp.