Anthropology senior Hayley Cook and alumnus Dan Grenzicki set out to paint the Rock on Farm Lane at 11 p.m. on Thursday. Their goal was to raise awareness of Native American cultural appropriation onset by the Boy Scouts of America. The scouts, however, had a different view on their painting.
Students paint the Rock discouraging Boy Scout use of Native American culture on campus
“It turned into this whole other thing because every single group of Boy Scouts that we saw would yell at us in some way,” Cook said, who is also an intern for the Native Americans Institute and Mohawk, Iroquois Nation ethnicity from upstate New York. “It ranged from asking if I had pegs on my bike, could they get on, to calling me a weird-looking boy because I have short hair — just crazy things that are not even relevant.”
Cook said her and Grenzicki painted the Rock until 3 a.m., and the scouts remained present throughout.
“They went out of their way to sit at the rock in the middle of the night, after their camp schedule, to heckle us at the Rock. We were like, ‘this is like a camp, don’t they have stuff to do in the morning or curfews?’ I've worked in the dorms. I know camps do curfews or else they get in trouble,” Cook said.
“So many of the leaders were equally disrespectful, if not more than the boys. One of them I told, ‘Hey you have a problem here, your scouts have been harassing us through everything that we are doing.’ He first said it wasn’t his problem, ‘this is a youth led organization. We can't be held responsible for what our scouts are doing.’ He then suggested that the harassment was in my head and it wasn't actually happening. It spiraled into a whole other thing that we weren't really expecting,” Cook said.
“They were all really open about who they were,” Grenzicki said. “There was a bunch of confederate flag patches floating around too. They were all trading them. We went to the patch trading in front of Brody for a project. They had a bunch of really appropriative patches of Native Americans and about five confederate flag patches. They were like ‘these are really rare, do you know how much these are to get right now?’ There were certain kids actively seeking out only those patches,” Grenzicki said.
The following scouts were spoken to on Friday afternoon, they were not known to be at the Rock during the Thursday night painting:
John Quimby, an Eagle Scout from Conn., said, “I’ve grown up in the Native community. It is just a touchy subject and it should be changed. They are trying to go for an image that is old and outdated. What I was taught in Boy Scouts and what I learned at the powwows were completely different.”
Quimby said he has spent a lot of time at powwows and was adopted into Native American tribes, even though he is of Filipino descent.
Jasper Wallen, 19-year-old assistant Scoutmaster from Idaho, said, “I dont always feel happy about the ways that we act as Native Americans. But we do have Native American tribe leaders that watch over and make sure that we are doing it respectfully. It is not really the racist thing that a lot of people think.”
Cooper Hanks, 15-year-old Life Scout from Idaho, said, “It is not offensive, it is more an inclusion. It is like any Christian group that tries to bring people in. Lets learn about each others religions and beliefs and be respectful. Even if you don't believe in it, see what they see and don’t be negative.”