News

Teams Terminate Peace Pipe Tradition

In light of concerns about_x000D_
cultural insensitivity, the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps and Pomona-Pitzer athletic_x000D_
departments have decided to discontinue the practice of passing the Peace Pipe trophy to the winning team in the annual CMS vs. P-P football game. The decision_x000D_
brings a 54-year-old tradition to an end and has prompted mixed feelings among the_x000D_
players on each team.

The decision was initiated_x000D_
by a grievance raised by the Indigenous Student Alliance (ISA) about the_x000D_
trophy, which is used ceremoniously in many American Indian traditions,_x000D_
particularly by the Great Plains tribes, who officially call it a “Chanupa.”

“The Chanupa being passed_x000D_
back and forth between teams as a trophy is inconsistent with the actual_x000D_
spirituality behind the object,” ISA member Laurie Covarrubias PZ ’16_x000D_
said. 

“It’s used in a way_x000D_
to open up conversation,” president of ISA Mariah Tso SC ’14 said._x000D_
“When it’s pulled out, it’s used to equalize people so that everyone has_x000D_
the right to speak. To use it as a trophy really perverts the original use for_x000D_
it.”

Both CMS Athletic Director Mike Sutton and P-P Athletic Director Charles Katsiaficas said that they had never heard complaints regarding the Peace Pipe in their respective 13- and 27-year careers at their departments. 

“The meetings went very_x000D_
well,” Tso said. “We were expecting that this issue was going to blow up, but_x000D_
that was not the case at all. [ISA] was able to voice our concerns, and [Sutton_x000D_
and Katsiaficas] were able to listen.”

“Their expression of what was going on was_x000D_
especially enlightening to me,” Sutton said. “I was especially_x000D_
pleased by such a reasonable approach made by ISA. That goes a long way when_x000D_
you’re talking to people when you’re bringing up something we hadn’t considered_x000D_
before. We thought of the Peace Pipe as a representation of the peace after the_x000D_
‘conflict’ and nothing more.”

CMS and P-P football players have_x000D_
expressed concern over the timing of the decision and the ending of a_x000D_
longstanding tradition.

“Every Stags football_x000D_
player dreams of winning the Peace Pipe,” Tyler Stanek CM ’16 wrote in an e-mail_x000D_
to TSL.

“Winning the Peace Pipe_x000D_
resembles all of the hard work, injuries, two-a-days, practices, and workouts_x000D_
that the team has persevered through,” he wrote. “I sincerely wish the_x000D_
Peace Pipe was not discontinued, as it exemplifies the tradition between the_x000D_
two football teams at the 5Cs and all of the great memories that are shared by_x000D_
teammates on their path to attaining the Peace Pipe.”

“We were a little bummed about the time of the_x000D_
decision,” Garret Bell PO ’14 said. “Being that it was_x000D_
announced the week of the game, it took the wind out of our sails a little bit. It would’ve been nice if they could’ve waited an additional week and_x000D_
said that this was the last one we’re playing for, or if the decision would’ve_x000D_
come at the beginning of the season to have a chance and find something new to_x000D_
play for.” 

Some players supported the decision, howver. Julian Roberts PZ ’17 said he understands and accepts the reasons for ending the tradition.

“Where I grew up, there_x000D_
was a lot of misuse of terms and cultures by my fellow high school students,”_x000D_
he said. “Coming to Pitzer, I was very self-conscious and mindful of people’s_x000D_
different opinions. It was a really legitimate concern.”

Allison Barnwell CM ’14, an ISA member who runs cross country for CMS, originally introduced the idea to Sutton. 

“Once I understood that peace pipes are sacred objects to certain Lakota tribes, akin to a cross for Christianity, I began to see the full extent of damage our college tradition inflicted on the cultural representation of American Indians,” she wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “I knew the CMS department, and I understood that both the administration and the athletic director would understand why the Peace Pipe tradition had to stop once they learned the implications for Native students, visitors, and the broader cultural representation of American Indians.” 

Tso said that during one of the meetings that took place in early October, ISA provided historical documents to Sutton and Katsiaficas that demonstrated the original use of the Peace Pipe.

According to documents retrieved from Honnold/Mudd Library’s Special Collections, which ISA showed to TSL, the Pomona College athletics department released a pamphlet known as the “Sagehen Spectator” in 1959, the year the Peace Pipe tradition began. The book identified the current director of the Pomona athletics department as “The Chief,” and the head and assistant coach as “The Indians.”

“Being that it wasn’t the players being labeled as ‘Indians,’ it wasn’t subordination, but more of capturing the essence of the time,” Covarrubias said. “In reading the documents, it didn’t seem like there was a negative connotation to the tradition, but it was still very naïve and [had a] whimsical approach to it.”

Austin Crist CM ’16 said_x000D_
that he was “sad to see the Peace Pipe go so suddenly,” but added that the_x000D_
rivalry between CMS and P-P is enough to carry the tradition forward.

“Regardless of the Peace_x000D_
Pipe being there or not, there is something very special about the rivalry_x000D_
between CMS and Pomona,” Crist wrote in an e-mail to TSL. “It doesn’t_x000D_
matter what the records of either team are leading up to the 9th game, both_x000D_
schools want to win more than anything and bring the bragging rights back to_x000D_
athletic programs. “

Sutton said that the_x000D_
athletic departments hope to select a new tradition by the end of the semester.

“We plan to involve_x000D_
players, especially seniors, alums, coaches, and any other parties we deem_x000D_
necessary,” he said.

As to what will happen to_x000D_
the Peace Pipe, ISA and the athletic departments are currently working to determine how to properly retire the object.

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“The options are to either_x000D_
retire it and return to those who are rightful pipe carriers, or to somehow_x000D_
find a way to use it as an educational tool to show how it is not appropriate to_x000D_
use native items as trophies,” Tso said.

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