Sunday, March 29, 2009

San Bernardino Valley College Indians


I was a student at Valley College in 1975 through 1976 and again in 1982. I played with the pep band, as the marching band had been disbanded two years before. We were the Indians. SBVC had been the Indians since 1927. The original nickname was the Wrens. It seemed strange to me then that the original nickname had been the wrens... I never saw any wrens. But it isn't that silly a thing... there are many wrens in the nearby desert...

Founded in 1926 as San Bernardino Valley (Joint) Junior College, Riverside Junior College (later known as Riverside College, Riverside City College, and now Riverside Community College) was twelve years older. Valley was always a bigger school with impressive athletic teams and bands. (The Valley College marching band was in the Tournament of Roses Parade long before RCC (Riverside Community College) even thought about being in it.

My band director at Valley was C. Paul Oxley. He was there from the 1950s through the 1980s. A studio trombone player in Chicago, an Army musician during World War II, and a high school band director in Tennessee, I owe a lot of my musical knowledge to that man.

In 2000 the students at Valley College voted to change the nickname of the school to Wolverines. Now wolverines don't even live in Southern California, except in zoos. The reason given for the change was that the term Indian was a pejorative term in describing the people who lived here before white people. Christopher Columbus called the people he saw Indians because he thought he was in Asia (and that's what they called Asians then).

No matter, in 2004, the entire musical program was wiped out so I wouldn't go back to that school today.

One thing many people against the Indians nickname protest is that the nickname demeans Native Americans. Arcadia High School in Arcadia, California, is the Apaches. For many years they abused that name. But in recent years, everything they do is approved by the tribal council of the White Mountain Apache Tribe of Arizona.

There are those who say there are no Caucasian school nicknames. Here are five. I'm sure you can come up with more. I linked the schools. Enjoy...

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