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Whilst Equinox follows in the tradition of bold and seemingly abstracted costume, this co-exists with a visible, unmasked face. Equinox is both a transformed figure and easily identifiable as Miiyahbin. The suggestion here would also be that Miiyahbin does not need to be freed from the constraints and obligations of everyday life, but rather maintains a complicated or heightened role within this everyday life. The opening between narrative understandings of facial visibility and how the face continues to signify to readers complicates any one reading of Equinox.

The costume is an immediate performance of originality whilst suggesting succession and inheritance, visualising both individual and shared dimensions of identity.

Few origin stories immediately gesture backwards to multiple generations, and so this is a departure from conventions of both superhero costume and narrative. For Equinox, the public is also the private as the collective superhero identity is embedded in an organising concept of a lineage of Cree superheroes. The costume makes broader extra-textual gestures, borrowing its colouring from the symbolic dress of a figure with individual, communal and national meaning. Lemire cites the influence of the late Native youth-activist Shannen Koostachin, from the Attawapiskat First Nation, in creating Equinox.

Shannen was a teenager who advocated for equal education funding across Canada, essentially fighting for Native rights to education. However, there might also be a tension here, considering the mobilisation of highly emotive and traditional imagery. Perhaps the most significant element of this is the antagonist, the Whitago figure, which is eventually revealed to be the father Miiyahbin thought dead. The Whitago, as Margaret Atwood notes, exists in a variety of forms:. In their Indigenous versions, Wendigo legends and stories are confined to the eastern woodlands, and largely to Algonquian-speaking peoples such as the Woodland Cree and the Ojibway.

The concept has many name-variations, including Weedigo, Wittako, Windagoo, and thirty-four others all beginning with W and having three syllables, as well as a number of forms beginning with different letters Evading any singular authoritative narrative, the Whitago has a shared mythic base as a ravenous, cannibalistic presence with a distorted human body.

Some views hold that the seemingly Indigenous narratives are themselves products of colonial encounter and therefore carry in them the confrontations between Indigenous peoples and the settler-invader cultures. His feet are almost a yard in length, with long, pointed heels The visual of the Whitago seems grounded in the Cree perception of the figure.

One of the key beliefs within each understanding of the Whitago narratives is a sense that it can originate and manifest in anyone. As an entity the Whitago is very often seen in close proximity, inhabiting friends, neighbours or family members. In turn, that it attempts to manifest as a dark mirror of Equinox, but is still partially overcome, or banished, is a marker of the spiritual basis of the creature.

Reder suggests that depictions of the Cree Whitago might invoke this metaphysical realm, and also the need to confront and overcome the same creature in order for the self to move on from the conflict.

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Following this instruction, Miiyahbin repels the Whitago as embodied by her father by first stunning him with her newfound elemental force and then displaying to him her love and sorrow. This frees the father from inhabitation by the Whitago force and appears to allow him to die JLU 5 Jennifer K. Stuller suggests that the absence of such figures disregards female knowledge in the formation of female superheroes, and thus that such heroes must inevitably adopt masculine tropes to enter the framework of superheroism.

All the while, it is striking that Miiyahbin enacts a highly personal and collectively embedded spiritual quest given that this particular story about a Northern Cree First Nations girl overcoming physical and metaphysical issues, experiencing true-to-life development, takes place within the pages of a comic book series fighting alongside Animal Man, Supergirl, Green Arrow and the Martian Manhunter. The use of the Whitago alongside such figures as the Martian Manhunter could threaten an exoticisation of Native beliefs under the guise of fantastic legends but rooting the story within a particular locale and people, whilst entering into the hybrid fantasy world of the DC universe, seems to be a positive movement.

In doing so, Lemire gestures cannily to the reach of such a storyworld, and its cultural form as a transnational product. The physical space of the comic book, and its transnational readership ensures that whilst a Native narrative is told to a non-Native audience, by non-Native creators, elements of specific Native culture are conveyed.

Depicting the Moose Cree First Nation through the particular geography of snow-covered streets, using the Delores D Echum Composite School in Moose Factory as the visual for the local school, and the iconic Cold War architecture of an abandoned NATO Radar base, gestures to the broader mass of Northern Native communities with ex-military facilities nearby who share similar experiences. Accommodating a complex cross-national fantastic within this grounded setting seems to resist the homogenising discourses of popular culture oft-associated with superhero comic books.

The rubric of superheroes travels across nations and can often be adopted and adapted, but to experience a reverse flow, and to accommodate the diverse readership of such comics shows the decolonising potential of popular cultural industries. Indigenous visualisations need not necessitate a tie to First Nations authorship, but to embrace fully the agency and cultural gains possible from such representations, a sense of the history underpinning cultural narratives.

However, the sense that such proxy representation is open to charges of violence is not easily disregarded. The narrative frame of the Canadian nation has its own freighted politics, and ones which may not appear communicable within what is still an American cultural product. How far the site of production will reassert influence on the continuing reshaping of a communal fantasy world remains to be seen, not least in the influence of powerful conventions of superheroism.

Whether this means a symbolic externality such as interplanetary travel, or on the grounded terrain of Northern Ontario, the implications ultimately stem from the ongoing social signification of Equinox. These schools were eventually closed but left behind a legacy of violent and often sexual abuse, and the attempts to eradicate First Nations culture.

A formal apology was issued in Federal parliament by the Government of Canada in but reparations claims are yet to be fulfilled. Rehoused into temporary classrooms since , the school has only recently seen work begin on a new permanent building. Louis A. Knafla Westport, CT: Praeger, Arnaudo, Marco. The Myth of the Superhero. Jamie Richards.

Works Cited

Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, Atwood, Margaret. Clarendon Lectures in English Literature Oxford: Clarendon Press, Bell, John. Toronto: Dundurn Press, Christie, Stuart. Plural Sovereignties and Contemporary Indigenous Literature. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, Coogan, Peter. Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester.

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Jackson: U of Mississippi, Dingle, Adrian. Nelvana of the Northern Lights. Hope Nicholson and Rachel Richey. Eigenbrod, Renate. James H. Cox and Daniel Heath Justice. Francis, Daniel. Vancouver: Arsenal Pulp Press, Harring, Sidney. Westport, CT: Praeger, Hi-Ho Mistahey! Alanis Obomsawin. National Film Board of Canada, Unprecedented in size, scope, and diversity, it has made the once-unremarkable, and often-celebrated, team and its traditions the subject of debate, rendering them increasingly indefensible.

In doing so, it has actively challenged anti-Indian racism, while pushing to restore dignity and humanity to indigenous people. The ongoing debate, moreover, has fostered a shifting defense of the organization and its use of American Indians, which has appealed to and exposed the complex contours of racial politics and cultural identity today. Much of the defense casts the franchise and fans in a positive light, stressing that they have good intentions and mean to convey honor with the moniker, logo, and associated practices.

And more, it has stressed indigenous support, highlighting the importance of public opinion polls as well as endorsements of the team by prominent individuals and reservation communities. Importantly, the defense is about more than Indianness. In particular, it turns in spoken and unspoken ways on whiteness. On the one hand, it invokes the attachments and sentimentality of white fans to legitimate the team and its traditions. On the other hand, it derives from and defends a series of entitlements or prerogatives anchoring a long history of owning Indians and Indianness in U.

Current events also focus our understanding of the past. They provide much-needed critical distance to assess the creation of the brand and its broader significance. It was, not to overstate things, a paradoxical love of imagined Indians and a loathing of actual, embodied Indians that continues to this day. Not surprisingly, the franchise, in common with other sports teams, Hollywood films, and commercial culture generally, traded in stereotypical renderings of Native Americans that, like the moniker, distorted and dehumanized them.

To fans, journalists, and owners alike, the logo, fight song, and marching band all were in good fun. And while they meant no harm, a point many make today, these traditions create hostile environments that do in fact harm. Then, as now, such images and attitudes encouraged a kind of thoughtlessness. Such thoughtlessness allowed people to take the team and its traditions for granted without the burdens of history or introspection. Finally, the critical juncture produced by recent events may be the beginning of the end.

It is certainly a moment of change, a moment when countless people call for the team to change, when individuals create new team names and logos, and when many others imagine a time after the current moniker and mascot have been changed. Of course, this moment of change and what it has brought into being are about much more than the brand, its use of a slur, or even the intransigence of the current owner.

The issue is about dignity and respect, combating anti-Indian racism while furthering self-determination and decolonization. As such, when the name changes, for that action to be of lasting and meaningful importance, it must be paired with deeper transformations, including education, coming to terms with the past, and expressing honor for indigenous people by honoring treaties made with native nations.

The critical juncture explored in this book has been marked by public condemnations of the team and calls for change, which have heighten public awareness of the word and its origins. Recent events likely played a key role in the increase in online searches. In Dictionary.

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Growing interest and increased attention, moreover, may explain why Americans generally remain supportive of the franchise but have growing unease about the word. A recent survey, for instance, found that 83 percent of Americans indicated they would not use the word in a conversation with a Native American. One pizza restaurant in Washington DC learned how profoundly attitudes have shifted around the term. In our future promotions and emails, we will make sure not to make the same mistake.

Whatever the precise cause, the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer rightly concludes that words and public usage of and attitudes toward them change: "Fifty years ago the preferred, most respectful term for African Americans was Negro. With a rare few legacy exceptions, Negro carries an unmistakably patronizing and demeaning tone. For Krauthammer, like Costas and growing numbers of people, these changing sensibilities do not simply argue against use of the slur to describe a American Indian, they also argue against the continued its continued use as name for a professional football team.

Even as the past few years have witnessed an unparalleled push toward and increasing momentum for change, it would be wrong to conclude that concern with the team and its traditions is of recent origin or driven by forces outside of Indian Country. For more than four decades, American Indians and their allies have voiced their opposition. They have appealed to the ownership, held rallies and demonstrations at NFL games, and filed lawsuits to strip the team of its trademarks. They have created art, produced public service announcements, and formed organizations devoted to change.

They have funded studies, launched protests on social media, and lodged complaints with governmental bodies, like the Federal Communications Commission. These efforts have had noticeable impacts on public opinion. They have also prompted the franchise and the league to repeatedly respond to questions and criticism, secure support among indigenous people — often through questionable, if not fraudulent, means — and wage a series of public relations campaigns.

Even as Costas, Congress, and myriad others have called the team and its name into question, it has remained one of the most valuable franchises in professional sports. It has an easily recognizable and familiar brand, which is at once hugely popular and highly profitable.


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It is, according to Forbes , the third most valuable NFL franchise. Far from being an ethnic slur, the team has long asserted, its moniker conveys respect and honor. The franchise, moreover, has sought to reframe the controversy through a sophisticated promotional campaign rooted in focus groups, polls, and philanthropic initiatives. The National Football League, for its part, has actively defended the team, endorsed its interpretation of the name and its origins, and supported it in court. Times and USA Today — still use the name. Disappointing play has not diminished pride or attendance appreciably.

And many are quite vocal in defense of the team and its traditions of social media. Nevertheless, merchandise sales, in a possible sign of things to come, were down 35 percent in Despite this and in keeping with the general support of the organization, according to Forbes , the valuation and revenues for the team rose during the same period. The ongoing struggle lends itself to binary thinking, moral declarations, and public denunciations. To many, either the moniker is respectful or it is racist. It is a stereotype or not. Such arguments, whatever their merits, simplify the conflict and its cultural import.

They discourage full understanding of the significance of the debate, competing claims, and key words. Indeed, the struggle over the team name, what it means, and why it matters raises important questions about popular perceptions of American Indians, the cultural life of brands, and existing obstacles to inclusion and equality. It also encourages deeper reflection on race and racism, the shifting contours of American attitudes and identities, and the possibilities and limitations of change in consumer society.

Some of these complexities find expression in the city that has long celebrated the franchise. Washington DC exemplifies racial politics in the United States.

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Built in part by slave labor, on land taken from native nations, the seat of American democracy was long marked by pronounced segregation and black-white racial tensions. For much of its first three decades in DC, the team played off these tensions, endeavoring to cast itself as the team of the South. Even as the city has changed, the centrality of race has not, and a rising Latino population has introduced a new dynamic that has complicated established assumptions. Economic and demographic shifts, moreover, have fostered a whitening of the urban core, increasingly pushing the poor and people of color to the margins.

For all of this, on any given Sunday, residents of the metropolitan area form an imagined community united in shared identification with a team and becoming cultural citizens by exalting imaginary Indians. Even as they dress in feathers and sing the praises of their braves on the warpath, fans erase indigenous people. They make claims on and through images of them but disclaim their histories or continued relevance.

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In the process, they forget the past and its legacies. They forget about dispossession, displacement, and death. Few will remember that the team currently plays on the ancestral territory of the Piscataway Tribe or that the capital is built on the homelands of the Patawomeck Tribe. And even as they don its colors or sing its fight song, fewer still will acknowledge the ways in which a professional football team continues to profit from anti-Indian stereotypes and stories.

The creation, consumption, and contestation of the brand, then, have emerged and evolved in a context marked by the interplay of racisms. What the team means and how individuals and institutions make sense of it can be understood only in light of overlapping identities, ideologies, and exclusions.