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The North Texan welcomes letters from alumni and friends. Send letters, with writer's full name and address, to

The North Texan, University of North Texas, Office of University Communications and Marketing, P.O. Box 311070, Denton, Texas 76203-1070.

Letters may also be sent via Internet to or submitted on this page. Letters may be edited for length and publication style.


Offensive photo

While reading through the winter issue of The North Texan, usually a very pleasant experience, I was shocked and truly offended by your picture on page 18 of the cover of Professor Diane Negra's new book. Cher's dressing in a tacky knock-off of traditional Native American ceremonial dress, composed largely of faux eagle feathers, is comparable to her dressing scantily in a DayGlo loincloth and neon crown of thorns striking a crucifix pose. While I wouldn't put that past Cher, I'm sure it would be offensive to many readers of The North Texan.

The traditional Plains Indian headdress is a sacred object. As Yale Professor Jace Weaver wrote in a 1999 report to the U.S. Justice Department concerning a similar display at a public high school, "Eagle feathers are sacred not only to many different tribal traditions, but also to the Native American Church, which uses them as part of prayer. Representations of eagle feathers [are] religious in nature and [this] manner of display would be offensive to many Native Americans."

In an article titled "Racism and Stereotyping: The Effects On Our Children, On Our Future," a Native American woman writes, "Eagle feathers are sacred to Indian people and they are earned and worn in special ceremonies to feed the spirit of the feather, to communicate with the Creator and to keep the wearer safe."

Although I would be surprised if she meant it to be, Professor Negra's book cover could be considered sacrilegious and even racist.

Native Americans have been called "the forgotten minority," and with good reason. People who would never consider themselves racist or even disrespectful to other Americans often think nothing of displays like this one, or of using Native American caricatures as school mascots or in corporate logos, all of which feed the idea that America's first peoples are some entertainment oddity from the past rather than a proud people who are struggling to this day to survive.

The good news is that many of those who have listened to the objections of Native Americans about these insensitivities, and who have given it sincere reflection, are beginning to speak out and help the rest of us become more aware and respectful of these wonderful Americans.

Alan Cheney ('79, '90 Ph.D.)
St. Louis

Editor’s note: Author Diane Negra, assistant professor of radio, television and film, responded: "I'm sorry to hear that you were offended by the cover of my book Off-White Hollywood: American Culture and Ethnic Female Stardom. Since the book uses feminist and critical ethnic studies methodologies to interrogate distortions of ethnic and gender identity, I suspect we are in sympathy regarding the negative effects of such depictions in popular culture. The cover imagery adheres to a common practice in critical humanities scholarship of using such images 'against themselves' to inspire reflection and hopefully provoke cultural change.

"In the chapter on Cher, I draw from recent scholarship such as that by Philip Deloria on the misuses of Native American imagery in American popular culture and look at the ways in which Cher has sustained her career through ethnic chameleonism, claiming and disclaiming a variety of ethnicities, and trivializing them by reducing them to a performative mode. The book's cover seeks to highlight these practices, not participate in them."

Déjà vu

photo of professor James Lott and Roger Rodriguez
  Professor James Lott puts an electrode in place to take an EKG reading from North Texas freshman miler Roger Rodriguez of San Antonio. Lott’s biotelemetry research was featured in a 1968 issue of The North Texan.

It was "déjà vu all over again," as someone once said, but it warmed the cockles of an old flack's heart (as opposed to a flack's old heart).

I was idly thumbing through the winter North Texan, as I often do with
magazines just retrieved from the mailbox when I don't have time to sit down and read 'em immediately. Then it caught my eye — the almost thumbnail-sized picture on page 5 of the cover of an issue of The North Texan from days gone by.

It looked familiar. Then I read Madge Hunt's accompanying note and realized why. I have never been known for the efficiency of my personal filing system, yet it required only about five minutes to come up with a copy of that 1968 issue. And the memories came back.

That was my second and last year as director of publicity and student publications at NT, which is why I was listed as co-editor of the publication, along with the late Bobby Veteto, an exceedingly talented young man who actually did most of the design and editing of that issue.

Also, I wrote the story and took the pictures for the piece on biotelemetry research, mentioned in Ms. Hunt's letter. The central figure in the story was the late Dr. James R. "Tad" Lott, whom I still consider one of the most interesting individuals I have ever interviewed, and probably one of the smartest. And one of the most down-to-earth. Just to chat with him you'd think he would be more at home officiating a high school football game than up to his neck in electronic doodads in a science lab. But, in fact, he was equally competent in either of those settings.

As I recall, we rewrote that story and gave it fairly wide distribution as a news release, and it was picked up by the Associated Press and distributed even more. Keith Shelton of the journalism faculty, editor of the Denton Record-Chronicle at the time, was kind enough to send me the AP TTS (most people won't have any idea what that means) printout of the story, which I still have in some darker, danker reach of my personal filing system.

In another phase of that same research, Dr. Lott was studying effects of exercise on children. I recall that he "wired up" his son during a youth football game, and I took my son, then about 8 or 9, over to Dr. Lott's house to have an EKG done while he rode a stationary bicycle.

I confess my memory gets very shaky here, but I have a faint recollection that Dr. Lott packed up his equipment in a Volkswagen and drove to the Summer Olympics in Mexico City in hopes of getting permission to "wire up" some of the distance runners there during actual competition. He was not too successful, as I recall.

OK, enough of this yesteryear stuff, but as Bob Hope used to say, thanks for the memories.

Roy Moses

Comic relief

Please allow me to weigh in with my opinion regarding the UNT mascot question. A letter in the spring issue expressed concern that the eagle was being pushed aside in favor of the Mean Green. Noting that traditional school mascots are being reconsidered across the country, I submit that neither of these mascots is appropriate for our university in these more enlightened times.

The eagle is a near-endangered species, and its exploitation as a mascot is, I'm sure, offensive to animal rights advocates everywhere. And the "mean" in Mean Green is certainly an affront to the sensibilities of those perceiving an excess of mean-spiritedness in today's society. Therefore, I suggest these mascots be abandoned and we opt for one more amenable to political correctness: the soybean.

Many institutions of higher learning already have mascots representing food sources: UT has the longhorn, Arkansas has the razorback hog, etc. Why then should we not be proud to identify ourselves with the basis for tofu?

comical picture of a soybeanWhen the "Green Bean" is adopted as our new mascot, and competing teams take the field or court to face our mighty UNT soybeans, they cannot help but be struck with stunned pause. Then, assailing the Epimethean breach, we shall wobble through to ultimate victory. Go Soybeans!

C. David Hubbell ('73)





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