Daily 49er

CSULB Huddle adds to the discussion surrounding Prospector Pete controversy

On Thursday, a small group of students discussed what prospectors embodied as western settlers, and what it means to use one as the school mascot.

Students+were+invited+to+the+Women%E2%80%99s+and+Gender+Equity+Center+last+Thursday+for+an+open+forum+on+Prospector+Pete%E2%80%99s+role+on+campus.+
Students were invited to the Women’s and Gender Equity Center last Thursday for an open forum on Prospector Pete’s role on campus.

Students were invited to the Women’s and Gender Equity Center last Thursday for an open forum on Prospector Pete’s role on campus.

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

Hunter Lee | Daily 49er

Students were invited to the Women’s and Gender Equity Center last Thursday for an open forum on Prospector Pete’s role on campus.

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A total of 13 women filled the couches of the Women’s and Gender Equity Center on Thursday in order to discuss mascot Prospector Pete, what he embodied during the gold rush era and how to contextualize his presence on campus.

The discussion was hosted by campus organization CSULB Huddle, and was led by history professor, Angela Hawk.

“There are people who know what Prospector Pete represents, so just for that fact alone, that can create a sort of threatening environment on campus,” said Angela Alannouf, senior women’s, gender and sexuality studies major. “While it might seem like a minor thing for some of us who didn’t know about it, for some it really does change the climate here.”

Although the university has not formally expressed an opinion on the future of the mascot, the school website states, “The ‘Forty-Niner Prospector’ stands in representation of the school mascot and of the drive toward greatness. The sculpture personifies the spirit of the 49er.” Hawk discussed what the statue’s presence represents from a historical standpoint.

Hawk began by explaining that many southern slaveholders made their way to Northern California to look for gold, but ended up migrating to Southern California when they didn’t find the fortune they were seeking.

As the new settlers began to create boomtowns, they came into conflict with Native Americans whose livelihoods they disrupted. Hunting and fishing grounds became depleted as settlers cut down large amounts of trees for lumber, and commandeered rivers as they panned for gold.

“I don’t think people appreciate the extent to which Native Californians were decimated as a population, as a result of the Gold Rush,” Hawk said.

Hawk went on to say that mass killings are considered genocide when one can prove that there was a mental and physical intent on the part of a state or group of people to eliminate a group based on their race.

When the first settlers migrated west, the state of California paid militia groups to kill Native Americans, according to Hawk. Another piece of evidence she gave was that settlers separated Native American children from their families, and took custody in a court of law to use the children however they saw fit. This, along with countless other atrocities, makes it historically accurate to call the mass killings during this time a genocide, according to Hawk.

“Those are the facts. It’s not fake news; that is what we were dealing with in that period of history,” Hawk said. “Those laws were eventually declared unconstitutional, but then we get to the present day and we have a mascot like Prospector Pete. What does it say about who we’re choosing to represent ourselves as a community?”

Discussion attendees agreed that a possible solution was to begin a petition to change the mascot and to move the Prospector Pete’s statue to a museum explaining the history behind prospectors during that era.

1 Comment

One Response to “CSULB Huddle adds to the discussion surrounding Prospector Pete controversy”

  1. pete boothroyd on October 23rd, 2017 2:51 pm

    THIRTEEN STUDENTS are not infavor of Prospector Pet stature! Therefore a petition to remove it is to be created. MAKE SURE YOU ASK 1000’S OF ALUMNI. This is typical of todays events. If 10 or more don’t like something it has to change. Picket, petition, demonstrate–all 13 of you! Amazing!

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