Skate Canada Replaces "Mohawk" and "Choctaw" In Its Terminology

Barbara Manatee

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,471
From @SkateGuard's blog:

This excerpt:

In the early 1970's, the USFSA Dance Committee researched the topic and suggested, "With the opening of the American West in the early 1800's, the English were enthralled by accounts of American Indians. A few captured Indians were even shipped across the Atlantic and put on display for the curious Englishmen. This interest in American savages caught on among English skaters, and they adopted the Indian tribal names 'Mohawk' and 'Choctaw', to describe their turns.

Yikes! Named after captured 'savages' shipped abroad and put on display for entertainment - it's more than political correctness to say those names need to go.
 

CassAgain

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2,037
But that year was also the year that Davis & White did their Bollywood OD, which was very respectful and which a lot of South Asian people loved. D/W were very careful about making sure the dance was authentic and worked with a South Asian dance teacher to get the moves and expressions right. I think there is room for that kind of program, that acknowledges and honours the traditions of the music and the themes.


I loved that OD at the time, and I think they did try to be respectful, but even as a D/W uber, I don't think it has aged particularly well.
 

Sarrie

Active Member
Messages
17
As a Native American I applaud the decision, especially after reading the reasons they were named that way.

I don't really have any knowledge of technique in any discipline, I had heard the terms a few times and had been curious as to why they were named the way they were. I had also wondered if the tribes involved had given their permission for the usage and it appears that was definitely not the case. I know that if a skating move or anything really, used my tribes name without permission I would be upset as would many other tribal members. As Native Americans we have little to no control of how our cultures are portrayed in media, sports, etc. Native American type costumes are still sold for Halloween, people still go to sports games in fake war paint/bonnets and do offensive dances, "off the reservation" is a term freely bandied about in media and entertainment. With that in mind I like the change but agree this needs to be the stepping stone to bigger, wider ranging changes.

I also wonder if Skate Canada reached out to the tribes involved, it may have been a great opportunity to ask for approval, for the Mohawks and Choctaws to provide some education and maybe get more Native Americans involved/interested in the sport.
 

Jenny

From the Bloc
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21,316
Finally, it doesn't matter whether or not these terms are derogatory. The issue is that they were stolen through a system of colonialism. For example, there's an ongoing discussion in Duluth (large-ish city in MN with a large Native population) about whether to stop using the term "chief" in official titles. Again, I'm skeptical of how much of a difference such a change would make, and I also realize that news about stuff like that really sets off right wing anger about "political correctness," but it's a really complicated subject driven by centuries of really bad shit, and to be totally dismissive or laugh about it doesn't seem appropriate to me.

The organization I work with has been going down this road on several fronts, and there's always a point where they decide "I guess it's OK to use that word in that context, but let's be sure to change everything else" or "oh, didn't realize we were using that word so widely - so maybe can we just update the English website and sort of avoid using it in future?" rather than seeing it through to the end.

"Chief" might be one such example, because of course that's "chef" in French, and much of the culinary world, across many languages and cultures, uses the French terms of chef, sous chef, chef de cuisine etc.

I wonder how far Duluth will take this one.
 

Toshi_Berra

Member
Messages
96
Hahahahahahaha.

So in lieu of just not being racist, they’re going to change the name of some steps. It’s like Skate Canada is bending over backwards to avoid addressing the root of the problem, racially biased and discriminatory actions, behaviors, and treatments of skaters.

Yep. More empty gestures to make the white majority feel better about themselves.
 

Sylvia

Wishing I could go back to the Lake Placid JGP
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62,936
Re-posting from the other GSD thread that was started on Monday:
Point 4:
Policy & Terminology: A new equity, diversity and inclusion policy and strategy is being developed to help ensure that individuals of all races, genders, sexual orientations, and abilities feel welcome in Skate Canada programs and events. An active review of terminology in our sport is underway, with a focus on decolonizing of the terminology.
...
Skate Canada recognizes that the actions above are just the beginning. We are committed to anti-racism and promotion of equity, diversity, and inclusion as ongoing processes. We look forward to working with all members of our community and to broadening membership in Skate Canada programs so that together we make Skate Canada a leader for positive change in sport, with the goal that truly everyone can embrace the joy of skating.
 

overedge

G.O.A.T.
Messages
28,828
I also wonder if Skate Canada reached out to the tribes involved, it may have been a great opportunity to ask for approval, for the Mohawks and Choctaws to provide some education and maybe get more Native Americans involved/interested in the sport.

I was wondering this too. I think it would be a great opportunity for skaters in regions that have other First Nations to learn more about those two nations and their heritage.
 

MsZem

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14,225
I have no opinion about what Skate Canada did, but I would have liked to see this change announced together with more substantive actions.

well, it's something, isn't it?

i'd love to see some guidelines around cultural misappropriation so that we're not seeing any more 'aboriginal' or 'bollywood', etc. programs from skaters with zero ties to those bipoc identities. i feel like that wouldn't take that much more than these name changes, but i'm also fully outside of the skating world. just a casual fan who doesn't necessarily know or understand how these kinds of decisions are made.
I agree performers need to tread carefully when they base things on cultures outside their own, especially if those cultures have been marginalized. That said, in some cases those doing the borrowing (1) have had nothing to do with marginalizing those or any other cultures (2) may not be familiar with the cultural sensitivity involved.

To use an example from another context, when Netta won Eurovision with Toy she was accused by some of appropriating Japanese culture. Netta is an Israeli Jew of Ashkenazi and North African descent; I fail to see how someone like that represents a dominant culture in relation to Japan.

The D&S dance called itself Aboriginal without consulting anyone about appropriate costumes or styles of the dance. But when Danielle O'Brien and Greg Merriman did it, they consulted with Harley Windsor who is aboriginal. Subsequently the dance paid off.
Harley Windsor was 12 or 13 at the time, so I imagine they had input from other sources as well?

The theme that year was folk, and what D/S did certainly wasn't folk. IMO, they weren't the only ones who crossed a line that year, but they were probably the most egregious.
 

Sylvia

Wishing I could go back to the Lake Placid JGP
Messages
62,936
Skate Canada should rather try to organize virtual competitions to give skaters some perspective in this time.
Skate Canada is organizing their Challenge (final qualifying competition for 2021 Nationals) as a virtual competition -- more info here: https://www.fsuniverse.net/forum/th...ying-season-announcement.107562/#post-5881095

The individual Skate Canada sections are responsible for organizing their Sectional Championship either in person (BC/YK and AB-NWT/NUN; the latter starts tomorrow in Calgary) and virtually (Ontario, Quebec). Info is posted in the linked thread as well as in the Canadian competition thread in the Kiss & Cry section.
 

Judy

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,783
As a Native American I applaud the decision, especially after reading the reasons they were named that way.

I don't really have any knowledge of technique in any discipline, I had heard the terms a few times and had been curious as to why they were named the way they were. I had also wondered if the tribes involved had given their permission for the usage and it appears that was definitely not the case. I know that if a skating move or anything really, used my tribes name without permission I would be upset as would many other tribal members. As Native Americans we have little to no control of how our cultures are portrayed in media, sports, etc. Native American type costumes are still sold for Halloween, people still go to sports games in fake war paint/bonnets and do offensive dances, "off the reservation" is a term freely bandied about in media and entertainment. With that in mind I like the change but agree this needs to be the stepping stone to bigger, wider ranging changes.

I also wonder if Skate Canada reached out to the tribes involved, it may have been a great opportunity to ask for approval, for the Mohawks and Choctaws to provide some education and maybe get more Native Americans involved/interested in the sport.
Are you in Canada or elsewhere?

i have no problem with the change. Canada has not treated First Nations well at all. So good for Skate Canada.
 

Tinami Amori

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Messages
19,616
For those who think that this was a wise idea about a pressing issue:

A Jew's harp is neither Jewish nor a harp. Discuss rights and remedies.
It is "jew's" only in English. In other languages the name of this instrument does not contain "jew" or "harp" in the name. For example in Italian it is scacciapensieri. "Jew" part is a joke or a mistake that became permanent. The original was "Jaw-harp" because one uses mouth to play it.
 

Coco

Rotating while Russian!
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15,595
In the 30+ years I've been watching, skaters from Asian countries seemingly must skate to European/Russian/American classical or theatrical music to gain acceptance and respect from judges. I don't know what you would call this dynamic, but it sucks. I don't want to see anyone forced to adopt another culture's music, characters, costuming, etc. But I don't want to prevent them from using programs they think will be effective, either. So then we are left with only skaters from European ethnic backgrounds being limited in the types of music they can use. That doesn't seem sporting either. At the same time, I think any skater with a European ethnicity who tries to portray a non-European ethnicity is walking a very fine line. Any efforts must be undertaken with great respect and an enormous amount of research, attention to detail, etc. So much work that the skater might step back and say, does the world really need my take on this?

I think D/W's OD was brilliant and has aged really well, but I'm not sure how much my opinion, as a white woman, really matters.
 
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Sarrie

Active Member
Messages
17
Are you in Canada or elsewhere?

i have no problem with the change. Canada has not treated First Nations well at all. So good for Skate Canada.

I live in Oregon and the tribe I belong to is located here as well.
 

gkelly

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Messages
15,483
I think it is a good change.

By the way, I also wondered why lifts are called „Lasso“. Who is the cattle there?
No one, really. It's more like the lady is the rope.

Look at the action of the man's hands on any of the lasso (group 5) lifts compared with on a press (group 4) lift.
 

Holy Headband

Matthew Markell's hypewoman
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574
I love when someone decides to move away from language or imagery that is offensive to Native Americans, usually after years of appeals from Native activists, and a bunch of white people jump in to say it’s “performative” and no one is asking for it, like they have their fingers on the pulse of contemporary indigenous culture and aren’t just reflexively denying that something they’re used to saying could possibly be harmful or offensive.

This is a welcome change and if you’re looking for Native activist groups to jump in and condemn it as useless or “PC gone mad” on your behalf you’re gonna have a hard time.
 

Aussie Willy

Hates both vegemite and peanut butter
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Harley Windsor was 12 or 13 at the time, so I imagine they had input from other sources as well?

The theme that year was folk, and what D/S did certainly wasn't folk. IMO, they weren't the only ones who crossed a line that year, but they were probably the most egregious.
Most aboriginal kids start dancing pretty early on.

BTW - here is something that brings two cultures together - the Chooky Dancers - Aboriginal dancers dancing to Zorba the Greek.

 

kittysk8ts

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,813
I think that if even one person feels less marginalized by the changing of these words then it is worth the effort and cost.

And from a Canadian perspective, our government promised reconciliation a long time ago. It’s good to see other institutions getting on board. We haven’t done even close to enough.

All of the above IMHO, of course. 😊
 

Orm Irian

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Messages
895
The D&S dance called itself Aboriginal without consulting anyone about appropriate costumes or styles of the dance. But when Danielle O'Brien and Greg Merriman did it, they consulted with Harley Windsor who is aboriginal. Subsequently the dance paid off.
I understood that they (also) consulted with the Elders of their region and their community to both gain permission to use the style and ensure authenticity in their dance.

In Australia when appropriating Australian aboriginal culture, you do need to be careful. My great great grandmother was aboriginal so it is something I am very aware of. There are many issues around people who find out they had aboriginal descendants. You should never automatically make assumptions based on it.
Indeed. And there are actual formal guidelines for non-Indigenous people working with/using Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures especially in the Arts - I have to keep on top of this as an editor who works with Indigenous authors from time to time. One of the key points now is that the use has to benefit the Indigenous cultures represented along with the artist. I'm not sure O'Brien and Merriman's piece as it was created then would fulfil those guidelines now, but it should still be possible for a respectful pair of non-Indigenous skaters to find a way to make it work now.
 

mikeko

Active Member
Messages
137
I find the Skate Canada's decision positive. People often are quite insensitive to other cultures even today. Some American people and media repeated calling Amy Coney Barrett's confirmation hearing to US Supereme Court "a Kabuki theater, which I never get the point of as Japanese.
 

chewy

Well-Known Member
Messages
195
The word mohawk for a step turn doesn’t exist in hockey. For figure skating coaches who teach hockey players it sounds stupid and the kids are whaaat??? It does not take long to quit using mohawk or or any other figure skating terminology when the audience rejects it. Im not entirely sold on the C and the S but I have seen them described that way in seminars some years ago both in Canada and the US so it’s not new but no one used it.
 

mackiecat

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Messages
1,279
I think it's because the man's arm motions in lifting the woman are similar to the arm motions of swinging and throwing a lasso. That's what I've been told, anyway.
It is now called a group 5 Axel lift and has been since IJS started. Lasso is a very old term
 

mackiecat

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,279
I think that if even one person feels less marginalized by the changing of these words then it is worth the effort and cost.

And from a Canadian perspective, our government promised reconciliation a long time ago. It’s good to see other institutions getting on board. We haven’t done even close to enough.

All of the above IMHO, of course. 😊
I agree and since everything is digitalized in Skate Canada, there is no reprinting of manuals expense
 

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