“So, what’s next in the mascot movement?”
It’s a question I’m frequently asked, met with a long-ish response. The efforts towards change are multi-faceted, with different strategies being employed throughout the country. One such initiative is that of John and Ken Little, two brothers enrolled in the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
They have been working on a film called “More Than a Name,” that will cover the issue of race-based mascots from a multitude of perspectives. The documentary was conceived in 2013, and filming began in 2014.
Like much of the movement against Native American mascots, their effort has been entirely grassroots in nature. The Little brothers established Black Tongue Dakota Films for production of their film; the name is derived from the name of their father’s intertribal drum group.
Ranging from the halls of Congress to demonstrations in the streets, the documentary aims to address the many angles of the fight against Native American mascots. Fan interviews are interspersed throughout clips of Native American advocates for change, including Amanda Blackhorse, Clyde Bellecourt, Henry Boucha, Gregg Deal, and Simon Moya-Smith.
By including as many viewpoints as possible, the film makers hope to more fully explore the supporters of Native mascots alongside those who believe caricaturing is destructive.
“Our main goal is to educate those unfamiliar with Native American culture as well as provide inspiration for those involved in the battle of fighting cultural appropriation,” John Little, a PhD student at the University of Minnesota, told ICTMN. “We hope that this documentary demonstrates Natives as people and not mascots. We are part of a vibrant and growing community that has survived into the 21st century.”
So far, “More Than a Name” has been self-funded. John has become a familiar face at rallies organized outside of football stadiums.
To support the next phase of filming the documentary, Black Tongue Dakota Films is seeking public donations.
Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is a tribal rights attorney in Washington, D.C., a founding member of NotYourMascots.org, and an all-around rabble rouser. Follow her: @zhaabowekwe.