Insight, News, and Opinion by Nick Abramo
  • April 13, 2021
Oahu Intertribal Council Offers To Discuss Nickname Situation And Solution With Kahuku High School

Wow, very cool!!! Let’s get the dialogue going.

The Oahu Intertribal Council sent a letter to Kahuku High School offering to discuss the nickname of the school’s athletic teams and a solution to the discord it has been causing. NickAbramo.com obtained a copy of that letter Wednesday.

Last week over on the North Shore, a petition was circulated that got some steam, and 970 have signed it to date, supporting a request to change the Kahuku High sports’ team’s nickname from Red Raiders.

The nickname and logo of a Native American wearing a headdress of feathers is considered by some to be derogatory and racist — that the use of Red refers to the skin color of Native Americans. Many in the U.S. are exploring this idea and it has gained a lot of traction. For instance, just a few days ago, the Washington Redskins announced that they would be discarding their nickname and logo of an American Indian wearing feathers.

An artist's rendering of a Kahuku football helmet with Native American logo. From Pinterest.com.

“This issue of using Native imagery continues to be a very ‘hot’ political debate on the mainland in many indigenous communities,” wrote Mealii ‘Mae’ Prieto, the president of the Oahu Intertribal Council in the letter to Kahuku High. “As a nonprofit group, we wish to be mindful and considerate of our many diverse relationships with our community stakeholders.

“Today, as high school and national football teams and other organizations continue to legally battle this out in court, if it appears that we (OIC) ‘side’ with Kahuku it may jeopardize our status as a nonprofit entity. If we make an official statement in support of Kahuku and at some point, someone decides to take this matter to court, we may be subpoenaed to testify and this is a path we choose not to pursue. However, we are very open to discuss the possibility of our group doing an educational presentation at your school to discuss this very issue with your students, staff, etc. We wish to help broaden and discuss with you the many different Native stereotypes that exist, examine colonized relationships, discuss hate crimes and the negative effects on our youth, past and current Native political struggles and other concerns or issues that may arise. “We want to use this as an opportunity to support and learn from one another through compassionate dialogue. Our stance can be one of collaboration and reflection to ask ourselves challenging questions about what it means to be indigenous allies to one another (Polynesian and Native American Indian). We want to lay the groundwork with our kids and show them that we can support multiple indigenous communities and be inclusive and not exclusive.”

If you read between the lines (because it’s not stated), the Oahu Intertribal Council is going out of its way to not cross the line to being politically incorrect. In other words, they are likely not up in arms about the nickname and logo but — as a Native organization — are going to uphold its duty to serve all of its constituents (those for and against the nickname and logo). And while the possible future discourse between the Oahu Intertribal Council and Kahuku does not solve the issue immediately, it may lead to a proper hearing out of the problems and either a compromise or another kind of palatable solution for everyone.

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