Tag Archives: Adrienne Keene

Inappropriate Appropriations: An Interview With Adrienne Keene, ’07

by Annie Graham, ’14

Adrienne Keene is an ‘07 Stanford graduate who visited Muwekma-Tah-Ruk to speak on Monday night. Currently in her third year at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, she used her spare time or sheer determination to start a project alongside her life as a student: she writes a blog called Native Appropriations, concerned with (mis)representations of Indigenous peoples. Her work proves the potential of blogs to formulate individual ideas and change the minds of others. She is also a very upbeat and welcoming person — I got to sit down and ask her a few questions before her presentation.

Annie Graham: Would you say you were an activist at Stanford as an undergraduate?

Adrienne Keene: When I was a student, my activism was a little bit more limited. Stanford was the first place that I was exposed to issues of social justice and activism, in the sort of the “on the ground, protest signs” form. When I was an undergrad and was the co-chair of the Stanford American Indian Organization, we had a couple of instances of frat houses using the Indian mascot for various things. So that was the first time I was kind of involved in activism pushing back against it.

One thing I really appreciated about the Stanford administration, at least when I was a student here, is that they really supported the Native students on the mascot issue. So, whenever something popped up — and it happened fairly often, The Stanford Review was also using an Indian image for a while — the administration would have our back fairly quickly… the president would issue a statement saying the mascot was discontinued in 1971 and is not to be used for any reason anymore.

AG: What happened in grad school that made you become more of an activist? Continue reading

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Why Indian Mascots and Costumes Are Never Okay

by Holly Fetter, ’13

From “Stanford Indians” sweatshirts to Indian-themed parties to reunion weekend paraphernalia featuring Indians skinning wildcats, it seems that we all need a little reminder of why it’s absolutely never okay to use Native American culture and people as costumes or mascots. Full disclosure: I’m a White girl who dressed up as Pocahontas for Halloween when I was 4, but I’ve since come to appreciate why it’s not okay to use an ethnic group to make parties and games more interesting. Here are just a few reasons why appropriation is inappropriate:

  • By using a caricature of an “Indian” to represent a team, you’re reducing an entire group of people to a mascot. That’s entirely dehumanizing, and offensive. It also speaks to the level of oppression and invisibility of Native people in U.S. culture: we would never use any other ethnic group as a team mascot, as it would be seen as blatantly racist, and yet a debate about whether or not to use the “Indian” image persists. Continue reading
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