Dahkota Brown ’20, a candidate for the Stanford Tree of the Leland Stanford Junior University Marching Band (LSJUMB), has been camping in a tent outside the Cecil H. Green Library as “Donald J. Stump” for the past week in hopes of becoming the Band’s first Native American mascot.
Until 1972, Stanford’s mascot was known as the “Indian,” according to the Stanford Native American Cultural Center. Brown, the financial officer of the Stanford American Indian Organization, has previously appeared before the California State Assembly to advocate for the passage of legislature banning the use of the “Redskin” as a school mascot. He is also currently a sousaphone player in the LSJUMB, and as such has been part of the Defend Our Honor campaign, which advocates against the use of culturally insensitive mascots in sports.
As a Miwok from the Wilton Rancheria in the foothills of California, Brown seeks to bring his indigenous identity into the role of the Tree. According to Brown, the fact that the mascot comes from a history of oppression he worked very actively against is one of the primary motivations behind his candidacy.
“No native person has ever been the Tree,” he said.
Spending nights in his tent outside Green has been “rather chilly,” he noted, but it’s all part of his run for Band mascot. Brown also took part in several stunts as part of Tree Week, the official week during which Tree candidates, nicknamed “sprouts,” audition for the mascot position. These stunts ranged from a cake-tasting competition featuring a raw lasagna noodle cake to allowing fellow band members to “fertilize” him with cow manure in a planter box. Last Saturday, he was bonded in holy matrimony to another Tree candidate, Alex Goodman ’20. Brown also gave a mock President’s Day address last Monday where he read a list of the names of previous Stanford presidents and snorted an increasingly spicy powder after each.
“This Tree Week has been a really amazing experience,” Brown said. “Stunts aside, just getting to know my fellow Sprouts has been a highlight.”
The new Tree will be chosen by the band members tomorrow night, and will be publicly announced early Saturday morning.