At this time in the United States, there seems to be a large racial divide. When Richie PLASS came to speak at Ohio University, he shed some light on the issues he has faced with people stereotyping his race as well as his culture.
Plass came from a small family, which was rare in Native American culture. He is really into both listening to music and making it. He started dancing when he was really young and its an activity that his family still participates in now.
He told a story about his school principal wanting him to dress up as an “indian” to lead the school basketball team out before games. Plass originally told them that he would not do it. He found it offensive that they would have him dress up in the stereotypical Indian costume, which was not an accurate representation of what he wore at all. After speaking to the last living chief of his reservation, he decided he would do it. Many members of his tribe came and watched in amusement.
At one of the away games, Plass was not welcomed the way he was in his own town. People in the audience threw trash at him, spit on him, and called him names. This obviously upset him and fueled his desire show the world that they were misinformed about Native American people.
Another story he told was about the termination policy. A while ago, the government created a termination policy that allowed them to go in and dissolve whole tribes. His people were one of the few that had been terminated, but were able to make a full recovery.
Plass feels like President Trump and his administration wants to bring back there termination policy. It is really frustrating to him and his people that someone doesn’t think they deserve to live the life they wants simply because of cultural differences. Trump is already signing legislature that is making national parks smaller, which is causing issues for local tribes on those lands.
Because of all of these frustrations that Richie has faced, he created the art exhibit that was displayed in schoonover. He started collecting Indian memorabilia, some of it is authentic and some of it is the stereotypical things that marketers use to make money. Plus started with only three boxes of stuff, but was overwhelmed with the amount of things that people donated. He had people giving him the clothes of his back, because they want people to understand who they are.
Plass is turning his exhibit into a book so that you can have all 600 items at your fingertips. He wants his exhibit to be accessible to everyone. He wants everyone to learn and to question “why is that Indian”?
Richie Plass is bringing awareness to the racism and hardships that Native Americans face daily. Class believes that Native Americans are not marketable but their names and culture are, and he wants to change that.