University of Denver Bans “Denver Boone” As Offensive

150px-Boone2This cartoon is at the center of a controversy at the University of Denver. We have previously discussed the trend to eliminate such school symbols as Chief Illini and others. Unlike some of these controversies, “Denver Boone” is not based on a tribe but is a cartoon character designed by a Walt Disney cartoonist. However, the University of Denver has voted to ban its use as offensive.

Ironically Denver Boone was a vast improvement over the original mascot. From 1867 to the early 1920s, the University of Denver was known as the “Fighting Parsons” to honor the school’s Methodist founders. In the annals of mascots, that just might be the worst. Of course, there are the Boll Weevils (University of Arkansas at Monticello), the Banana Slugs (University of California-Santa Cruz), Fighting Okra (Delta State), Artichokes (Scottsdale Community College) and of course The Fighting Pickles (North Carolina School of the Arts). (I actually like the Poets at Whittier College).

The University of Denver transitioned in 1925 to the Pioneers with obvious reference to its early settlements. That became Pioneer Pete in the 1930s — a rugged, coonskin capped trapper.

While many have called for the return of Denver Boone, as he became known, the school declared him a persona non grata. Instead, they replaced him with a red-tailed hawk known as Ruckus, which was a colossal failure.

Nevertheless, people have been a bit ambiguous why the character is racist and sexist — both objections made by some students and faculty. Chancellor Robert Coombe insisted that “Boone was a polarizing figure that did not reflect the growing diversity of the UD community, but rather was an image that many women, persons of color, international students and faculty members found difficult to relate to as defining the pioneering spirit.”

Even if the association with Daniel Boone was not optimal, it is not clear why Pioneer Pete was also rejected. Indeed, any connection between Boone and Colorado is highly speculative and he never wore a coonskin cap. Pioneer Pete would seem a more fitting name. However, it is the image and not just the Boone association that has drawn criticism as racist or sexist.

The university insists that this is simply a case of a student body developing a new sense of identity and diversity. However, the controversy has grown after the Undergraduate Student Government passed a bill on Feb. 27, 2013 to bar the use of the mascot – a move that critics insist is opposed to the wishes of the majority of students.

The University is not backing down and insists that it will not go back regardless of polls of the student body. Currently the school posted a “to be determined” mascot.

63 thoughts on “University of Denver Bans “Denver Boone” As Offensive”

  1. Folks, one and all.

    These universities need to adopt protest mascots, like the mascot for The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA

    The Geoduck (pronounced GOO ee duck) It is a burrowing clam and very disgusting looking. A perfect mascot for today’s hypersensitive times. It isn’t racial, since it ain’t even human. It is a “clam” with an “appendange” so it is, by inclusion of both, gender neutral. Plus, it isn’t political. Like when was the last time you saw a politician try to make one as his/her symbol?

    Here is a montage of what is so inspiring about Evergreen’s Official Mascot. The Geoduck.

  2. Nick, thank you for your thoughtful reply. And Juliet I understand why your friend prefers the term Indian. But let me first reply to Nick: I can understand you friend’s reply in two areas. #1: Yeah, some do not care, period. #2: Some do not care because it is the absolute last things on their agenda to change. They are too busy fighting to keep their lands; fighting to keep the KXL pipeline and the workers camps off their property; fighting the Border Patrol as they militarize their reservation lands (Arizona) and culture; fight off alcohol (Whiteclay NB— see NY Times); fight off sequestration cuts (see NY Times) of those few who do have jobs through the BIA. Unemployment was 85% before the cuts started taking effect on Pine Ridge rez. But here is a 3:46 video from the 1491s whom Tink Tinker mentions in the Occupy video above:

    And one titled black face that is 4:41. They make the point far better than I will ever be able to.

    Juliet, Russell Means made the point in his book. Where White Men Fear To Tread, that anyone born in the US could claim to be “Native.” He preferred the term American Indian claiming that it wasn’t that Columbus had thought he’d found India but rather he named them indios (sp?) meaning “of God.” Until corrected I go with Russell’s American Indians term.

    And to any and all of you: Have you taken the 1.3 hours to watch the YouTube video “Welcome to the Reservation?” Forget that InfoWars is involved and listen to him describe YOUR problems.

  3. The misheard lyrics are more purehearted: “If I had a chance, I’d ask the world to dance” and (real lyrics) “Well there’s nothing to lose / And there’s nothing to prove / And I’m dancing with myself”. The world as my dance partner. Me as my own dance partner. Compassion for the whole world, including me.

  4. Knox College in Galesburg, Illinois had a nickname of Siwash. It had something to do with an Indian word for savage. But most people thought it had to do with washing. They changed the name to something else. Can not recall what innocuous name they went for.

  5. I find most fruits and vegetables names to be non-offensive.
    Denver Cabbage Attackers sounds fine to me, or Squash Stompers.
    In addition these names could help promote healthy eating habits.
    Of course I would vehemently protest names like, The Denver Big Macs or Deep Fried Butter Sticks.

  6. OS

    i can see it now, friday night, tuskaloosa alabama pick-up trucks with banners reading “GO NEGROES”. kids in cars with “NEGROES #1” in shoe polish on the windows. little blonde pony tailed girls with “I <3 negroes" on their shirts.

    i now understand ROFLMAO

  7. Years ago, I had a discussion with a fellow from one of the deep south states. IIRC, it was either Mississippi or Alabama. This southern gentleman saw nothing wrong with the Washington team’s name. I told him that if it was just fine to use names like Redskins, then it ought to be OK to rename the (his alma mater) team “the Negroes.”

    I thought he was going to have a stroke. For a white man, his face turned the most interesting colors.

  8. Pat, No personal affront taken. We’re just conversing. The person who spoke to our class was an activist from the Chippewa tribe of northern Wi. He was college educated, eloquent, and had a good lecture. When we got to the mascot issue I asked the gentleman about the views of the rank and file. It was simply because I wanted to know. In many movements the leaders don’t always represent the views of the rank and file. That should come as no shock. To this man’s credit, he admitted that if you were to ask most Indians would say they don’t care. His candor was impressive as was he.

    Where I grew up in Ct. I knew no Indians and little of their culture. I was a student of history and had studied much. My first real intro into the culture was @ an alcoholism seminar in KC. We were assigned roommates and mine was a Cherokee Indian about my age. We were both Vista volunteers working on different projects. This man was a recovering alcoholic and did outreach to Indians in urban areas, KC being the main one. From that point on I have been sought out first hand knowledge. I had a student who is Chippewa and he has taught me much. I have visited reservations/agencies in Wi., Mn., ND, OK, Wy, and AZ. I am familiar w/ Banks and Means history. I am very familiar w/ the history of Leonard Peltier. I know people who have worked @ his Federal prison. I love and respect the Indian culture. Like Juliet, virtually every Indian I have known call themselves “Indians.” The aforementioned former student prefers Native American, which I honor. I taught him in middle school. He went to UW which is the PC capital of the country. So, it is understandable. Matt was over for dinner w/ his girlfriend a few weeks ago. He is Chippewa[mom] and German[dad]. Ashley is Chinese[dad] and German[mom]. They would produce a great mix of kids! Matt works for an environmental group in Wi. Ashley is still a UW student.

    These are my bona fides. We probably agree on 98%, just not all mascots being offensive. I’ll follow the lead of the rank and file, you can follow the lead of the spokespersons. To each their own.

  9. They should change the name of the Washington Redskins because it’s hideously racist & cruel to Native Americans. They don’t mind that they’re being mean to a kid somewhere with Native American heritage by tenaciously clinging to that dumb name? Why on earth would they do that?

  10. Instead of of a tightly-wound moralism that snaps back and forth between different expressions of itself (that, on the surface, seem to be opposites, such as excessive historical guilt, racism, taking offense, etc.), it would be neat if white people just loved themselves; then they might find their compassion spilling over for other ethnicities and would be willing to change the mascot out of concern that there were people at the university who wouldn’t ever fully identify with it.

    “Try to catch the deluge of compassion in a paper cup!” – Crowded House

    The mascot is adorable and connects with people of the frontier past, many of whom were worthy, resilient, and interesting individuals. But, if it leaves someone out, then just toss it and get one that everyone finds exciting.

  11. Nick, nothing personal here, but you had an “Indian activist” “admit.” Was that the most discussed issue brought forth? Was he under cross examination? Seriously, anyone can claim to be whatever they say they are. How do you think Russell Means or Dennis Banks would have reacted to this story? Or perhaps Chief Arvol Looking Horse? Google them if you don’t recognize their names. Here is a video from Occupy Denver that shows Tink Tinker, a professor of Native American Studies at the Illif School of Theology at the University of Denver. Among many other things he touches upon the naming of sport teams. Please, take the time to watch it when you have a chance.

  12. Pat, When I was in school in 2000 we had an Indian activist who spoke to our class. He admitted the rank and file don’t care about these mascot issues. And, the poll numbers are not mine, they’re SI’s. You can look it up.

    1. I have a friend who’s active in Indian (his word, not mine) rights. I literally messaged him about this very subject, not long ago. He says they don’t care about the mascot thing. At all.

  13. Nick, even if I believed your poll number, which I don’t, it just goes to show you have colonized the American Indians have become. If you speak with traditionalist they take great offense at being made a mascot to whitey. You people who cannot find anything wrong with a “cartoon character” think about whom the character is based on. A treaty breaking murderer. “Time heals all wounds.” Yeah right, tell that to the people on Pine Ridge Res. We are still in the act of colonizing those that were here thousands of years before us taking away their language, religion, culture, lands and resources. PC my butt. They’re not the Atlanta Slaves now are they? Realize that this country was founded on genocide and built on the backs of slaves. Why don’t we “honor” them and change the baseball team’s name from Braves to Slaves.

    “Daniel Boone was a man, yes a REAL man.”

  14. GG,

    I’ll point out that the Vikings were not barbarians although they were pagans. They had (at the time) advanced technology (especially nautical technology) and civilization with well developed arts, were unparalleled explorers and had trade networks running from the Med to the deep interior of Russia. Raiding for loot and slaves was common practice during that time in just about every Nordic and European civilization. The Vikings were just exceedingly good at it.

    But they weren’t barbarians.

    Don’t any of you Brieitbart crew read any history?

  15. Geeba x2, I will have to respectively disagree w/ you on the Illinois mascot contest. Now, as those who know me, I deplore PC. However, as previously stated, I think the Redskins and Indian’s Chief Wahoo are over the top. Ironically, the Redskins owner has repeatedly stated he will NEVER change the name. That’s his right, and his stance does not seem to cost him money. But, getting back to Illinois. I know a guy who used to live in Pekin, IL. Their HS mascot were the Chinks, the Pekin Chinks. After much pressure, that was changed in 1980.

  16. Time heals all wounds. Think of how many team are called the Vikings. The Vikings were a bunch of savages who would rape pillage and plunder and would enslave their victims. Mostly white on white crime too. Seems that this is ignored by many. Spartans? Trojans? Great combat expertise but not much on PC. I still say the best high school mascot is in Illinois – the Hoopeston Cornjerkers.

  17. With all of the problems in the world, this “Univerity” decides to focus on a cartoon controversy over a cartoon character!

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