Jan 23, 2015 - OU SOUTH GREEK “Cowboys & Indians” THEMED PARTY

The letter below was sent to  Oklahoma University American Indian Student Life director, Lindy Waters from Native student Ashley McCray, regarding a ‘Cowboys and Indians’ themed frat party scheduled for January 23rd, 2015. Concerned students are also hand delivering a petition to OU Student Life today.

 Greetings Lindy, I hope this message finds you in good spirits.

My name is Ashley Nicole McCray and I am a Lakota/Absentee Shawnee student. I am currently working on my Ph.D. in the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine program. You may remember serving on a panel with me for a colloquium about racism in education a couple years ago.

As part of my journey here on campus, I make it my mission to engage with campus justice issues centered on race, particularly those dealing with native identity. This evening, 22 January 2015, I was notified by a student that a “Cowboys and Indians” themed party will be hosted by a fraternity on South Greek on 23 January 2015 at 10:00 pm. I have included the screen shot provided to me.

As you know, the exploitation of natives as mascots by non-natives is a serious issue that has long plagued the University of Oklahoma (and of course the United States on a much larger scale). This has had the effect of dehumanizing and devaluing native identity. With the rise of #NotYourMascot and thanks to the hard work of individuals comprising Oklahoma City Public Schools Native American Families group, however, natives are working to reframe these dialogues in such a way that non-natives understand why such behavior is simply unacceptable. It is in this light that I write this email and ask that your office ensures this “theme party” be prevented.

Given President Boren’s recent realization that minorities actually do face discrimination on this campus, I think the university is in a position to see why a “Cowboys and Indians” themed party would not benefit his efforts to ensure his students are not devalued or dehumanized. Reducing natives to objects in this way is violent and ultimately only works to silence and erase the identity of native peoples. Native students (and our allies) simply will not stand for this treatment.

I have CC’d the email addresses of fellow supporters. I appreciate your help in this matter and look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you for your help!

Ashley Nicole McCray, M.A. 

Ph.D student | History of Science, Tech, & Med

Graduate Assistant | Women’s & Gender Studies
Graduate Student Research Fellow | WGS Center for Social Justice

Last Real Indians