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Native American Student Organization hosts screening of “More Than a Word” documentary and panel discussion Thursday

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3 col x 4.8 in / 164x123 mm / 558x419 pixels Image of movie ticket stubs superimposed on film, movie projector. KRT 2000 (TNS)

By Jordan Wilmot

The newly re-formed Native American Student Organization (NASO) is hosting a viewing of the documentary “More Than a Word” from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 in the Applied Technology Center (ATC) auditorium.

NASO hopes to see Grand Rapids Community College students show up for several reasons ranging from education on the Washington Redskins controversy and a general education on cultural appropriation to simple fundraising purposes for the organization.

In terms of fundraising, NASO will have refreshments available for purchase to enjoy with the film and  ribbons with the saying “Rock Your Mocks” in honor of the annually honored day of wearing moccasins to show respect and reverence for Native American culture. Ribbons will be available for purchase for $1, with free parking vouchers being handed out to the first 75 guests.

The showing of the documentary is intended to raise awareness about Native issues, particularly the controversy surrounding the professional football team, the Washington Redskins and the analysis of the appropriation Native American culture has faced.

The documentary “More than a word,” focuses on the controversy that has plagued the Washington Redskins’ public image for over half a century. Founded in 1932, the Redskins began in Boston with the name of the Braves. But just a year after being founded in 1932, the organization changed its name to the Redskins, and in 1937 the team relocated to Washington D.C.

When asked to explain the importance of the Redskins issue, Drewyn Talley, president of NASO said that he would like to see the NFL “veer away from pigeonholing a group of people,” meaning he would like to see Native Americans honored rather than insulted. Talley would also like to see the team make use of Native American consultants to find a name for the team that instills honor and a sense of admiration in the team and the people in which it is named for.

In fact the NFL has much to thank Native Americans for. In 1912 the Carlisle football team, made up predominantly of Native Americans, faced off against the U.S. Military Academy. A matchup of the two top teams at the time. The Carlisle Indians won with a score of 27-7, while stunning the nation with their ingenuity and creativity at a time when running the ball straight at the defense was the norm. Which modern football athletes have perfected in terms of the forward pass and misdirection.

Open discussion will follow the documentary led by a panel of people well versed on the issue: GVSU Native American Council member Belinda Bardwell, GRCC anthropology instructor Dillon Carr, GRCC counselor/instructor Andre Fields, and community/cultural consultant for the Michigan Department of Education Lynn LaPointe. The panel will give those in attendance an opportunity to hash out ideas that differ on the problem or the solutions that get brought up, as well as a look into the cultural appropriation that Native Society has experienced.