Posted on Leave a comment

Why Indian Headdress Shouldn’t be Sports Mascots (Part 8 of 9)

Darren Parry, author of the Bear River Massacre tells why the Indian Headdress shouldn’t be used as a sports mascot.  We’ll talk about why teams like the Washington Redskins changed their name to the Washington Football Team, acceding to protests calling the name racist.  Of course they are not the only team that takes on an Indian Mascot.

Darren:  I tell the elementary kids this story really quickly about when a young Shoshone boy or girl does an act of kindness or service as they are growing up, they would get one eagle feather from the chief. Then I’ll ask one of the children, “What would happen if that boy or girl kept doing nice things as they’re growing up?”  They say, “Well, they would get more eagle feathers.” I said, “What if they kept doing those things until they were an adult. This one little girl said, “They would have so many eagle feathers.” I said, “You’re right, “and I said, “One day, when the chief gets ready to die, he will call everyone together and he will say to them, ‘Show me your eagle feathers.'” I tell them that the person with the most eagle feathers would become the next leader and the chief. Then I’d make this point that the chief isn’t the bravest, or the toughest, the chief is always the one in a tribal community that has led a life of service, that has done nice things for people their whole life. So, I tell them, that’s what a true leader is. It’s someone that works for the good of others, and they’ve done that throughout their whole life. That’s what they’ve demonstrated.

Darren:  So, these eagle feathers represent taking care of a group of people that have been marginalized, and a group of people that just tried to live a life with their Creator and the earth in a loving way. So, this is a sacred thing to us. The fact that when you have a high school mascot and then they appropriate it in a way that–they dress up like this, and it’s just all about education. We just went through this with Bountiful High School, and Bountiful announced that they’re going to change their mascot. That’s fine. We would have been okay, if they hadn’t changed the mascot, too.  As a tribal council, we talked about it because Bountiful High is in our indigenous area. We were the ones they consulted with.

GT:  Oh, when they originally had the name?

Darren:  Yes.

GT:  Oh, I didn’t know that.

Darren:  In fact, we had one of our council members on the committee that studied the issue. But at the end of the day, it was the principal’s decision based on all of the information gathered. We told the principal, regardless of which way you go, this needs to be an opportunity that we can educate, not only the kids, but the community.  Wearing the sacred headdresses, which is only worn in certain instances and in certain ceremonies, you just don’t do that to rile up a group of fans. You don’t understand it. I said to somebody the other day, and I don’t know if it’s appropriate or not, but I said, “It would be like if you’re the Bountiful Mormons, and then somebody’s wearing temple clothes out there halftime to get the fans excited, because what the headdress is to a Native American is sacred. It’s as sacred as temple clothing is to a Mormon, a faithful Latter-day Saints. You need to understand the sacredness of the headdress, and if you did, you wouldn’t wear it, and you wouldn’t wear the way you did. There are only certain Native Americans that are actually even permitted to wear it. So the fact that you’re dressing up and painting yourself and going out there and acting like a crazed madman is not okay, on any level.

Darren: So, we just told the principal, we would love to come in and do certain trainings with the students and the staff and everybody else on just what’s appropriate, and what’s not appropriate in Native American culture. We don’t show every ceremony that we perform. There are some things that are so sacred that we don’t show it. We don’t video it and we don’t talk about it. But the headdress is certainly one of those instances.  It comes down to being educated and making sure our kids understand. Because I absolutely believe there’s not one student there that did it out of spite, or did it out of a way to jab the Indians in the eye. They just didn’t understand what they were doing. But now you understand and now you understand the culture, then probably your decisions will be a little different. So, we’re thrilled that they are willing to change the mascot. Look, if there was one student there that and there was one Native American girl. She was Navajo that felt offended and she really felt bad every time that Braves issue came about and every time she’d watch an assembly, it was a traumatic for her. If there’s one student that that is happening to, then you better probably take a look at what you’re doing. Revisiting the mascot and changing the name is not a bad thing.  It just comes down to learning, learning the culture, learning that what you think is great and okay and fun, may be offensive to another group. So, we just need to be sensitive to that.

GT:  Yeah, and, of course, the Washington Redskins are now the Washington Football Team. I understand the Cleveland Indians have announced that they’re going to change. The Cleveland Baseball Team is probably what they’re going to be this year.  We’ve still got the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves.  Can you comment on those?

Darren:  You know, look, I’m not one easily offended personally. But if other tribes are, then I certainly honor them and the way they want to look at it. My answer isn’t necessarily, I’m not speaking for all Native Americans. Because there are some groups that are really hurt by all of those. And if they are, then they absolutely have a right to their opinion and what they should. But those other names, those other things will probably go the way of the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians, I think. Because I think we live in a world today that’s so polarized, for good or bad. I’m not telling you what’s right or wrong here. I’m just saying, the world we live in today is pretty black and white when it comes to this stuff now.

GT:  I should also mention the University of Utah Utes. They’ve got they’ve got permission from the Ute tribe, and I don’t know how the Shoshone-Ute connection is there.

Check out our conversation….

Darren Parry explains why the Indian headdress is sacred and why Indian sports mascots are offensive.

Don’t miss our previous conversations with Darren!

486: Monument in Killing Fields

485: Turning Massacre into Model for Peace

484: Idaho Monument to Shoshone Massacre

483: How a Battle Changed to Massacre

482: How Mormon Pioneers Changed Native Life

481: Native Life Before Pioneers

480: Darren Parry for Congress

Posted on 1 Comment

Sports Protests Against BYU (Part 4 of 7)

In the late 1960s & early 1970s, there were many protests by colleges over the racial ban on priesthood in the LDS Church.  Some schools, such as Stanford, refused to play BYU in athletic competitions over the issue.  In our next conversation with Dr. Matt Harris, we’ll find out that these protests were much more widespread than I knew!  We’ll also find out how Church leaders reacted to these protests.

Matt:  The first protest at UTEP,[1] the track team against BYU and then the said Civil Rights site visit that’s going to come in May of 68, a month later. So Wilkinson is just like freaking out.  He’s absolutely panicking. I should say that they’ve already started talk to build this beautiful new basketball arena that will eventually be called the Marriott Center. So, now they’re worried about this. They’re getting pushback from the Western Athletic Conference that they’re going to get kicked out of the conference, because they don’t recruit black kids. Wilkinson’s response was, “Look at our manuals.  We welcome all minorities. They just didn’t want to come here because it’s their choice.”

Matt:  I can tell you categorically that there were well over 100 protests from different universities.

GT:  Wow. I didn’t know it was that big.

Matt:  Yeah, me neither. We think of the big ones, football and basketball. They were protesting BYU band events, wrestling, you name it.

GT:  Wow.

Matt:  The reason why I know this is because I’ve seen some documents in Wilkinson’s papers and he drafts this lengthy memo cataloging all of the protests.

GT:  Really?

Matt:  Yeah, dozens and dozens and dozens. I was blown away. Some schools I never even heard of before. They just didn’t get the protest, or the publicity. So anyway, the ones that were the most salient, one would be the UTEP one because it’s the first one.  It sort of kick starts everything. I’d say the second one would be in October of 1969 with the Wyoming 14.

Matt:  Here’s the biggest point, I think, in this story is the Wyoming 14 we’re not just protesting the few blacks at BYU or racial discrimination at BYU, they made it abundantly clear they were protesting the Mormon Church’s views on race. This is much different than UTEP and San Jose and some others that were just really focused mostly on BYU and racism there. The Wyoming people are focusing more than just BYU, but the Mormon Church’s policies. So I think that’s a fundamental point.  Of all the protests going on, Wyoming, they were very laser focused on the church, not BYU. Ernest Wilkinson is probably the best person to quote on this. He said, “They’re the ones that gave us the most fits because of that.”

The other one, so this is October of 69. The Western Athletic Conference is scheduled to vote in November and the word on the street that they’re going to kick BYU out. Even the University of Utah has sent Wilkinson–the president of the U is a Latter-day Saint. So he’s an orthodox member of the church and he tells Wilkinson, “Yeah, the U is going to vote to kick you guys out.”

[1] UTEP stands for University of Texas at El Paso.  Previously the school was known as Texas Western, and was the first school to start 5 black basketball players.  They won the NCAA basketball championship in 1966 by beating heavily favored Kentucky, a team of all-white players.

Check out our conversation…

There were more than 100 protests against BYU & the LDS Church over racial policies in the 1960s & 1970s.

Don’t miss our other conversations with Dr. Harris.

349: Race & Religious Minorities at BYU

348: How Brazil Influenced Official Declaration 2

347: Did Nixon & Carter Pressure BYU Over Race?


Posted on Leave a comment

More Hofmann Techniques & Forged Sports Memorabilia (part 3)

Did you know that an estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is fake?  We’re continuing our conversation with George Throckmorton, and he tells that the majority of those “Authentic” jerseys, balls, and bats are forged.  How does he know?

George:  Over the years, I’ve done a lot of work on sports memorabilia. I had a Babe Ruth jersey that was selling for $750,000.

GT: Oh my goodness.

George: It had been authenticated. But it wasn’t [genuine.]  Because the ink that was used to sign it wasn’t made until–Babe Ruth died in 1948. And the ink wasn’t made until 1972, so if it had been genuine, he would’ve had to been resurrected and signed his name. {chuckles}

Of course, we spend the bulk of our time discussing the Hofmann forgeries.  How did Mark age them?  George describes aging techniques that Mark Hofmann used to make his forgeries appear older than they were.  But there was something wrong when George examined signatures.

George:  And as I put an ultraviolet light, there was some part that would reflect back and other parts that would not. And that really caused me some question. Why? If this document has been saved for over 100 years, why would you have some part that glowed and some part that did not, different inks, and so forth? And as I looked at it closer, I noticed the thing that made the document valuable was not the date itself, but the fact that it says, “obliged Joseph Smith.” And where it said, “obliged Joseph Smith” was where I saw different ink and I saw this white effect going around and I asked him that night, I asked him, I says, “Can you tell us where this came from?” Because before we started noticing some of these documents that have blue haze on the documents under ultraviolet light. Others did not.

George: And so we separated them into two piles. And as I looked at those under the microscope, I noticed there was a characteristic of the ink would crack on some of them, not others. And then I noticed the ones with that blue haze, we’re also the ones that had that had the blue there, the cracked ink. And so, I told Bill. “Bill,” I says, “I think we got something here.” And I handed him a stack of documents and I says, “You give them to me, mix them up, give them to me and I’ll tell you which one came through the hands of Hofmann.” And he gave it to me and I looked under the microscope and he says, “this one did.” He gave me another one. “This one did not,” and so forth until we were through. And all of them that had the cracked ink had Hofmann’s signature.

Don’t forget to check out how George became a document examiner, and how Mark’s toy chemistry set fooled the FBI.  Please support Gospel Tangents by any of these methods

  • Become a paid subscriber.  I will send you this and future transcripts for just $10/month!  Click the link at the top at, or
  • Make a one-time donation!
  • Purchase a transcript in our online Store
  • Become a patron and listen to the entire episode on our Patreon Page for just $5/month!
  • Like our Facebook page
  • Subscribe on YouTube or Apple Podcasts!
  • Share this episode on Facebook with your friends!

Check out our conversation…

An estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is forged. George Throckmorton describes how he found a $750,000 Babe Ruth jersey was forged.
An estimated 70% of sports memorabilia is forged. George Throckmorton describes how he found a $750,000 Babe Ruth jersey was forged.