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Film tackles tough topic of Native American mascots, nicknames

February 5th, 2019

Moew than a Word

The topic of the third offering in the KIPCOR Film Series might hit a bit close to home for some Kansas sports fans.

The Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution presents More than a Word Sunday, Feb. 17, at 3 p.m. in Krehbiel Auditorium in Luyken Fine Arts Center, with a discussion following.

More than a Word is centered on the NFL’s Washington Redskins (which the filmmakers, both enrolled members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, prefer to write as “r*dskins”) – but there are comments from fans of the Kansas City Chiefs as well.

The 70-minute documentary traces how the word “redskins” evolved, from a term of racial derision and slander to the name of one of the NFL’s most beloved franchises. It features the voices of Native American activists and scholars who place the issue in a wider context of Native American history and racial stereotyping.

It also examines the growing movement to change the name of the Washington NFL team.

The film is directed by brothers John and Kenn Little, who were born and raised in Denver and South Dakota.

John Little has a B.A. from South Dakota State University and an M.A. in history from the University of South Dakota. His goals are “to write Indigenous people into the historical narrative and help Native students into higher education.”

He is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota, and his main interests are Native American military veterans, music and mascots, as well as cultural appropriation.

Kenn Little, who currently lives in Kansas City, Mo., has a B.A. in graphic design and new media from Full Sail University, Winter Park, Fla., and is an artist, writer, videographer and musician who often combines those abilities on his projects. He composed the original music for More than a Word.

There will be a talk-back session after the film with Edward Valandra, Ph.D., Sicangu Titunwan (Lakota), academic and professional studies development dean at St. Francis (S. Dak.) Indian School, and Sherman Padgett, principal of Wichita Heights High School and former principal of Wichita North High School (the “Redskins”). 

“I’m really looking forward to having these two men attend the screening,” said Dan Wassink, KIPCOR senior mediator and coordinator of the KIPCOR Film Series, “because they represent both sides of this issue and should really engage and inform the audience from two very different perspectives.”

The KIPCOR Film Series is funded in part through the KIPCOR Peace Lecture Endowment. It is free and open to the public, with a freewill offering taken to support the series and the work of KIPCOR.

Bethel College is the only Kansas private college listed in the Washington Monthly National Universities-Liberal Arts section and the National Liberal Arts College category of U.S. News & World Report, both for 2018-19. The four-year liberal arts college is affiliated with Mennonite Church USA. For more information, see

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As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.