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Online petition targets landmark sign

Bill Rinehart

There is an online petition drive devoted to making a used car dealership in Carthage replace its signage seen by some as offensive to Native Americans. 

The Motor Time Auto Sales sign at Vine and 75th Streets may originate from when it was a Pontiac dealership, and portrays a Native American, grinning and waving at passersby. 

The petition was started by Judy Gibson-Combs, a Native American, whose friend Homer Shadowheart has signed.  He’s a local comedian whose act walks the thin line between amusing and offensive.  But, for him, the sign is squarely on the wrong side of that line.  He's Susquehanna Iroquois and says Native Americans are people, not mascots or advertising gimmicks. 

“We’re still here; we’re still alive," Shadowheart said.  "We should have a say in how we’re portrayed.”

Shadowheart says Native Americans are “the only race in this country that is allowed to be disparaged with no-one making any fuss about it.” He points to team mascots for the NFL’s Washington franchise, and locally, Anderson High School.

The Cleveland Indians baseball team uses a very offensive mascot logo called Chief Wahoo, he said. 

"There’s nothing wrong with their name," Shadowheart says. "I always say ‘Hey, either change the logo or the name.'  An Indian is technically from India, so take away the feather and the headband, and we’re good.”

Shadowheart says he realizes there are more serious problems for Native Americans, like unemployment and poverty, but his hope is if something like this can be addressed, it will put a spotlight on those bigger issues. 

Motor Time Auto Sales could not be reached for comment. 

The petition at Change.org was first posted about 9 days ago.  As of Friday afternoon, it had 21 signatures.  

Rinehart has been a radio reporter since 1994 with positions in markets like Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska; Sioux City, Iowa; Dayton, Ohio; and most recently as senior correspondent and anchor for Cincinnati’s WLW-AM.