Focus 580; Indian Mascots in College Sports
Good morning and welcome back to the second hour of focus 580 This is our telephone talk program my name is David Inge and we're glad to have you listening in this part of focus 580 will be returning to an issue that certainly we have talked about in this program and one that's generated a lot of conversation debate discussion on this college campus and that is the issue of using Indian mascots Indian images symbols in college sports. It has been an issue on this campus particularly over the last few years although it's been discussed on and off going back further and nationally it has been an issue now for really almost 30 years as a Native Americans around the country have taken issue with schools that have used Indians as mascots and as a result a number of large colleges and universities as well as some high schools have made changes and going back to 1969 some of the colleges that have dropped their Indian mascots
include Dartmouth Marquette University Syracuse Eastern Michigan Stanford Miami of Ohio and a number of others. We will be talking about the issue here. On this campus and also in a larger sense and talk about how the issue has been discussed around the country with the two guests in the studio we have Tim guy a go. He is the publisher and founder of Indian Country Today which is the largest Indian newspaper in the United States. He founded it in 1901 at the time it was published as the Lakota Times. And initially the idea of the paper was to just to provide news to people on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota. However interest in the in the paper and in that kind of news grew. And by 1986 it was being distributed in all of the reservations in South Dakota North Dakota Nebraska and Montana. Then they moved their headquarters to Rapid City South Dakota where they still have their
headquarters but in addition now they have bureaus in Albuquerque New Mexico and also in Spokane Washington and it is currently distributed in all 50 states and in 17 foreign countries. Also joining us on the program this morning Charlene teeters. She's an artist. She's a graduate of this university and perhaps more than any other person is responsible for raising the issue of the Indian mascot of this university. On this campus and they are both here as this weekend is homecoming on this campus and they are here once again to get people to think about it and talk about it. And we're pleased to have them here on this program and of course questions comments are welcome. Anybody who is interested in being a part of this conversation can do that simply by calling in. All we ask is that people are brief in their comments and allow space to other people too. We'd like to get as many people as possible. The number here in Champaign Urbana 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 Also we have a toll free line good anywhere you can hear us and that is
800 to 2 2 9 4 5 5. Well thank you both very much you have for being here on the program. Pleasure. Why is this so important to you. Well first of all I just want to greet any luck let the listeners out there. We know which much you have been low. And I simply said that we are related. And I gave my Lekota name which is stands up for them. We greet each other that way. I think it's an issue that. I think if we'd really stopped and thought about it 50 years ago 100 years ago I don't think it would have been as bad as what we perceive it to be today. And I lay a lot of this at the feet of. The fans. Fan is the short for fanatic and particularly when it became clear even on television football games with the Washington Redskins and other games. The Kansas City Chiefs the Atlanta Braves the Cleveland Indians.
But it's a question of educating our own people sometimes. I think it's clear as we've you know worked on this issue and talked to organizations talk to schools that Indian people feel this is a problem and feel that it stands in the way of people seeing us for who we are and. All of the major organizations that represent our leaders our educators our elected tribal governments our traditional Keeves. Have all come out to almost unanimously agreeing that these things come from ignorance and it becomes a platform for people to act out their negative stereotypes of native people and fat in some of our tribal leaders who used to say oh well we have more important issues out there. Have began begun to realize there is a connection between the disrespect for our tribal governments and our sovereignty and the impact
that that schools have you know put forward so I think clearly you know the majority of native people in our leadership agree this is the problem. And it's especially a problem when this is being put forward by an educational institution. Whose mission is to to you know tear down stereotypes not reinforce them and to teach real history. We have a caller. I would welcome others if you'd like to be a part of the conversation. Give us your own opinions ask questions. 3 3 3 9 4 5 5 in Champaign-Urbana toll free 800 2 2 2 1 9 4 5 5. Here's a caller to start out with in her battle line number one. Well hi first of all I'd like to say it's a real honor to talk to both of you. I saw Jay Rosen and Helen honor and I've been using it to teach my composition classes to get to. Kids think about this and I
think it's an incredibly important issue. It really disturbs me that cheap a lot of work is still showing up at that game and I've really gotten from the kids to really think about it you know. I wish I could have some speakers come into my classes. I think that would reinforce that I think a lot of the faculty is very concerned about this. They're very against the use of native American symbols that universities and I don't know if there's anything you guys could recommend that I could do in class to help the kids think about this. Martin what I'm already doing. Well I think you're doing the right thing by just you know showing educational. Videos on the issue because in places like Illinois in the Middle East and even in Indian country where we're tokens in our own homeland it is very difficult for us to be seen these images that are being put forward by schools and by popular culture by
Hollywood basically make us invisible Don't think about it. And you know their parents don't think about it I understand how it feels because I'm Jewish and I belong to a minority and it's not. Exactly the same thing but I know what it's like and you know I just I think what you guys are doing is fantastic and I just like you more but I wish the university would be half down on their theirs. Well if you would take the image that you see on the caps of the Cleveland Indians and transform that feeds from that. But these red faced little Indian with a feather sticking out of his it and put a jellyfish on it are African-American face and then you'll see that it's not an on or certainly even some of my Jewish students have not thought about this. I mean it's taken I was gosh in the classroom to get going to see that you know this is something that's really demeaning to Native Americans and I think about how they would feel you know if if that happened to you know
emblem of Jewish culture and they'd be horrified by it. But you know they just they don't. Think about it no one taught them to think about it so I think this dialogue is really important. And oh my thing you know you guys have a lot of supporters here and I hope you keep up before you know there's one thing I think that mothers share in myself is to see so many African-Americans that can't get the picture. I've noticed that in the classroom as well and I'm really shocked by it. You know I have a friend who writes a column Her name is Betty by a she writes for the Louisville Courier. And I could not get it through her head. And one day I just finally said Look Betty Suppose you're sitting in watching football game. Just begin a team with the Kansas City Chiefs or whatever and all of a sudden their mascot is an African-American and I look up into the stands up there and watch all those fans up there with their faces painted black and we're going after reeds and chanting what they think to be African war songs.
Her eyes got big and it finally dawned on her what I was talking about and she turned around wrote a column about it. So that's my hope and prayer. I think it's you know some of them have written term papers on it and arguing or thinking about. That have really changed their position on it. And they're freshman So hopefully as they grow older you know they'll have some impact on their peers you know. I am very surprised that it's a minority group that I teach in the class. It's a problem. Minority groups have not thought about it and don't see anything wrong with that. Put them in our moccasins as you're talking to him. We have an English teacher at inner city high school in California who uses some of the columns I've written including that he uses tape in his honor to have you said I started going out last semester it's a very powerful piece and then he has them write compositions on it. I'm amazed that at least 95 percent of the kids in his class know understand and they write some very very strong columns that support our stand on this.
Well I guess I will have them right on and I had it done last. But I don't like them. Think about it some more. You know I just. Well thank you. Thank you pretty or I could you know how much I appreciate your point of view you know completely supportive of your position. You know anything else I could do to continue supporting I'd be happy to do. Just keep up the good work. OK thanks for the call. You know I realize that I'm kind of asking the same question over again and you know the first question I asked was why. Why does that matter. And I'm sure that there are some folks who would who would say who perhaps would agree with you and would say I understand what you're saying and would say but you know why not just walk away from it why not just don't just turn away from me and say OK if somebody else wants to believe something that's that's wrong wants to hold mistaken images. If if they're just don't want to be persuaded then I'm going to say well you know that's just too bad for them. I'm going to go on living my life and I'm not
going to put the energy into fighting to convince somebody who probably won't he's not interested in being convinced. Well one of the examples you use several years because. They use Rosa Parks. Who wouldn't give to proceed on a bus. And that had very little to do with changing the economics of the situation of African-Americans but it had to do a lot to do with self-esteem. And you go out to the reservations were 95 percent 100 percent of the kids in classroom are Indian kids and you show me a picture which we've done. You show on the stands of the Washington Redskins football game and those kids are hurt and they're horrified. One of them said Why are they making fun of my parents were they making fun of my grandparents. I mean you get into the heart of the children and when you're hurting them and their self-esteem it's meaningful then. Well you know one thing that happened recently on the Standing Rock
Reservation where you know Tim is from. They had 40 attempted suicides there and six young people. Committed suicide you know were you know able to go through with the process of killing themselves. There is a connection between the hopelessness that many of our young people feel and our culture being held hostage. So there is a connection we who are out there working on this issue understand that connection. And we hear people talk about the statistics isn't there more important issues out there the alcoholism and homelessness and and the teen suicide rate Well we know that we come from there and those statistics aren't statistics to us because they have names attached to them and there are people there are people we know. So we understand the connection. I of course grew up in this culture too and had to tolerate Indians on par Toombs.
Westerns and so forth and we have learned to tolerate. I admit it you know growing up here I've learned to tolerate those things and never really addressed it until it had the impact it did on my children when I actually saw them you know sink in their seats. It made the connection for me and I realized that I could not not address it because it was too important it's attacking and undermining our future leadership. You know if with a human face on it on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Several years ago there was a girls basketball team from Pine Ridge High School called authorise and they were on their way to the state championship and they had a star on their team called Sue and pee crew who unfortunately died in a car wreck when she is 17 years old. But she did take the team to the state championship and on on the way to winning that championship she was playing her teams play in an all white high school and the students the white students in the stands start mimicking and making war hoops and
sticking feathers in their hair and really making fun of the Indian basketball players and SU and told her teammates to be calm and she went to the side and picked up a shawl wrapped around her shoulders and walked out to the center court and did a very dignified Indian dance. The fans that were taunting her and having quieted down they got on with the game and the new team won. So it just I mean this is this we were getting back to you know the self-esteem of the Union kids themselves were about midway through this part of focus we have some other calls we get right to them and I would like to introduce our good schools generally high schools in pro sports Questions Comments welcome 3 3 3 W I L L toll free 800 1:58 WLM. And next we'll go to Chicago for a call on number four. Hello. I Good morning. Yes. Yeah I'm about 3 8 and I've had a couple of questions. First of all I was
curious whether you had ever heard I've been called an engine. Can prophecy exists. Supposedly at least twenty four hundred years old. The fact that the quote loosely in bad translation when the twenty horses have wheels and iron birds fly. Then the day of the victory of the red to fall law is eminent. Does that. Have you ever heard of it. No I haven't. OK. Anyway I thought that was worth imagining it to mean my perspective on all this is very much that as D. I'm really pleased you know that you're doing what you're doing. Mostly not because I think you're going to have enormous facts but because I think it increases the chances for for European people to save their Salvi now at this late date when I
see that this sort of spectacle you know. To me it is an illustration of the ongoing degeneracy and deterioration of this white Kateri you know reaping what it's done. As not an occasion for a merry month or rejoicing in my mind but it is people commenting on themselves to me as previously intimated you know much more than it's commentary on anyone else. Well you have governments. No I think I never heard the old bit in. Not everything being that the rotten people from the physical anthropological point of view are almost indistinguishable from the Central LA FRANCE was from the Lakota and there is all kinds of evidence for a close connection there you know of prehistoric vintage and. So many lifestyle similarities. It's a fascinating study but well.
Good morning OK. Thanks for the comment we have others who will just keep right on coming back here to let me see I think two in line number one hello. Hi I think that sentence if i'm sorry if I'm going to repeat something at sunset but I want to say I'm thank you to both of your guests because I really have. There's activism and every everybody who puts their life right in to the kind of activism that people who wear. And I will make the comment I wanted to make was. You know when you say you know what do you say to people say why does this ruling out or why I've seen a button around campus a bit I guess that for me says a lot it says a racial stereotype to him and I think it is racial stereotypes are dehumanizing it has a has an image of. If you light a
wet thing on it and I think I think that you know that's that's that's the central point of this that it's dehumanizing. And her I mean an individual can go around like inside and out and portray different groups of people in whatever way they want but especially for an institution like a university. And one funded by our government to endorse something humanizing like this to have have that be a way out there part of. There are there are. Reckoning I mean I just I think that that's ridiculous and I think it says a lot about you in some ways you know. Our culture our our Waikato like the West Coast that I don't think we're the only culture that he generates that that
where and a lot of ways like were like terribly proud of in our thinking and that but this kind of thing it's OK. So I just like to say thank you and that's my comment on why it's a problem. All right very good. And. When I reflect on that alone you know very very simple way to approach it is you know when the settlers first team this country they look at it is a continent that need to be conquered. Whereas the Native Americans always looked at it as a continent that was to be nurtured and shared. So we have a total different philosophy. From the get go. All right Will Go On. Next caller is in Champaign and it's Lie number three. Hello. Oh hello good morning I have a question. Yes. I just like to get your response to this that is. Is it possible we were talking about. Some other very human eyes are stereotypes. I completely agree. If that is the case
however is it possible for an opportunity here to use symbols like us have some who like to sort of responsibly perhaps become ways for the American public to educate a unit of American culture or something like that. I just I want to get some response from my guests. Thank you. OK. Well you know I don't I don't really think so. It seems that we're the only race of people that can bring about understanding and a change. Last night I had dinner with Rosenstein and who was Shar and we were talking about a restaurant that used to be right here in Champaign called. Sambo's. Whatever happened to Sambo's. I mean the black people found it to be demeaning and insulting so it was done away with. They used to be a team in the state of Illinois it was called the Chinks. They're gone now. The Frito Bandito is gone I mean we see all the other the other mascots and
other images of Hispania blacks and. And Chinese that are disappearing and we're having to stand up here and fight for the fact that we are also human beings you know we're not mascots. I agree that there's there's always people who want to compromise that somehow we can do something good with these images. But what we're really dealing with and the biggest enemy for all of us is ignorance. And whenever we raise very you know any kinds of issues that deal with native people. We hear incredibly arrogant. Comments about native people which really speaks to the miseducation of Americans in general. And I always ask people what they what do they know really about native people what do you really know about the people whose lands you now occupy. And the truth of the matter is we only really think about Indians a couple of times a year you know around Columbus Day they'll think about Indians and they may you know
think try to come up with some kind of a you know program or a car you know comment around Thanksgiving of course they think about Indians again but only in a very superficial manner in our grade schools that they do these plays they ran AGT in the end you know. And really. You know kind of go through the myth ology of America you know which would is which is the you know the holidays Thanksgiving. And the rest of the year they they don't think about us at all. And the only place that were present in the educational institutions is through these mascots. So there's very little real education going on in these education educational institutions just these sort of. Playing these stereotypes that dehumanize Indian people and of course is the continuation of the genocidal practices. You know it's meant to kill. The culture to dehumanize the people.
Can I add something here you know Shirley and I sat back in my comfortable office and wrote above these things for almost 20 years. And as as a journalist I felt it was my duty to try to educate through writing. Whereas sure I was out there like on the frontlines and a lot of times I mean she was spat on and attacked knocked down. By fans. That we're taking an exception to her protests in the use of their mascot. So that sometimes the kind of mentality that we both have had to deal with. There are a lot of people and I have certainly talked to some of them who when they hear you use terms like that the chief being a racist being dehumanizing being a very negative stereotype. That's that's embarrassing and humiliating to Indian people young and old. They say But. We don't mean it like that. They say you know
they are they are associated with the university maybe the graduates the university and they have good feelings about the university. And the chief as they were in school was the symbol. And so they associate the good feelings they have with the university with the chief. And they say and I believe they say it sincerely. Some of them do that when they see the chief. They feel great pride. They feel that if they think only good things good things about. The time they were in college in the university and the For them the chief represents strength. It's a very positive image and it just it fills them with pride and that when they hear people say. But. From my perspective the chief doesn't make me feel proud. The chief makes me feel bad about who I am and when I see my children you know and their reaction I'm just I'm horrified and it makes me want to cry. These folks
they don't understand that you know because for them it's a very positive. Thing for them. When I first came to this campus this place was this permeated with all kinds of images. Derivatives of the chief. There with the misaligned a squad contest that was that one of the sororities there is a bar and campus town that had a falling down drunk in India over and over again had crosses in his eyes big nose falling down drunk. We saw buck and squad dances in the sororities and fraternities. We saw all kinds of caricature is of Indians being used on everything. And when I was recruited with two other young men. So the three of us walking around campus didn't feel welcome. You know and when we saw all this activity going around us we didn't feel welcome. There was really no way for us to address that as soon as you ever you know challenge that you became targeted. And that history continues to this day when
native people try to address this issue and this enormous responsibility of trying to undo the damage and and the misinformation that's being put forward by this university went on the shoulders of these few native students who happen to be here at address that they are also targeted. So in a sense the university is using something that becomes like a litmus test for Native students who come to this campus and then they're treated accordingly. Are they a good Indian or they are bad Indian. And they continue to use this sort of race baiting. You know by searching out those Indian people who will agree with the university and then those people who addressed the issue and say this is a problem. It's that makes me uncomfortable makes me feel unwelcome. It targets me and my family that kind of thing it. This is not what a university environment is supposed to be about. It creates an incredibly hostile environment for Native students. And for
non-native students. It's not fair for them either. You know they should be able to have a symbol that they can be proud of. You know and we want that for them too. You were talking earlier about how you would encourage people as they're thinking about this to try to put them so to see it as you see it. Is there any way in which you can. Do the other and try and it's and see the Chief as the loyal. Alumni who think this is a great sort of source of pride is the chief. Like you know I look at it as suppose in the University of Illinois It chills another race. Now suppose they had chosen an African-American or any other race. I don't think they would have this mascot anymore. We don't have the numbers or we don't have the political clout. We have an opportunity to get on shows like this occasionally. I think that created a share that a lot of the things she experienced when she first came here is a student in the
town. This down Champaign are as prevalent as they were now and I think it's simply because she was here she spoke out about it and and I think a lot of people turned around look at what they were doing and thought to themselves This isn't something that we should be doing because we're in a recent people. So in her own quiet way I think she's proud of changes right here in this community. I always have to look at it. Pick another race. You know people say to me Well what about the Vikings we got likings. Well there are no more fight kings. They're a creature of history. You don't see Vikings walking around town anymore but you do see American Indians. We have about 10 minutes left we have several of the callers we've got somebody calling from a car. I want to get to them since it's costing them a little bit more here lie number three. Hello. Hi yes I just want. Say that I have nothing but admiration for Shar and I'm a Native American in the community. When we talk about children and the effect it has on Indian children in my own children
I agree wholeheartedly that it is a very deep problem that some of my colleagues who realize they don't realize it is also hurting the girls you're giving them you know the premier flagship university is using a symbol that allows their children to extrapolate that kind of attitude into the treatment of other people. And it just it just spreads out from there. So I just wanted to say that I also wanted to say that I am a you know a respected professional and I remember walking into a minister's home one day and his 9 year old daughter took one look at me and started whipping around the kids and he was totally embarrassed. I didn't know what to do. But it occurred to me that this is the kind of thing that this university is allowing to happen to all children and particularly to Canadians. I just have nothing but admiration for it. Surely it's always when I see that the universe standing there like an old
fanatic. So that's what I want to say thank you very much. Thank you. Thanks for the call. Well let's just keep on taking folks here when next we'll go to someone calling from near Salem. Lie number two. Hello. I have enjoyed the program I wanted to ask our guests if they're familiar with to try to ban troops it's going to be performing in southern Illinois around the lake on Sunday. It's at the college they say it is. They perform for audiences at the John F. Kennedy Center in Washington and the World Musical Institute in New York City. It's a one hour free demonstration for the public. I'm very familiar though in fact I know a lot of the dancers. Is that something I mean are you we should not miss it at all it's they put on one terrific show and it's not just the dance that they go into the symbolism of what the dance actually means. And in so doing they also do a short history of the lot
of people and where they've come from. Where they are now and where they're going and a little bit about our spirituality. You know you would call religion we call it our spirituality. OK. It's something you would definitely enjoy very much if at three o'clock on Sunday and at the American theater it will encourage your friends to go to thank you. All right thanks for the call. And again to another caller this is Urbana once more and line number one. Hello. Yes ma'am. Well. Thank you. I also haven't tried the program. We're very very much. That somehow our father. Difference you know there's a conflict about beliefs I think that most of the people on the campus would agree 100 percent with what is being said today. They do movies that I don't believe
he'll begin to see or explore or anything they do feel pride in being a lawyer to the University of Illinois in some way. Now the interesting thing is that all of us who live in the state of Illinois have a lot to learn in the back of the days when I was at school. Nobody mentioned anything about the Allied right Indians. I didn't know why it was called Illinois Why it's just so. Fleet that puts its name and as a true owner I've realized how many places in this country have me take over back to Indian time. As if he has really done me. You know he would Carson and rivers in other states and heaven knows none of us know the history of all of that. That's the assumption was you would know when people started coming here when there are explorers coming to
what they thought was an empty ignorant land they found a cultured intelligent people who had a way of life who didn't need their European way. But the assumption was that the universe that they worked at the free will of and a wonderful stuff to these poor ignoramuses. I don't know how you erase that I really don't know. They didn't mean to be doing the bad thing for a lot of people who do things without thinking and without knowing and without any idea of when they toss the pratfalls where how far it's going to reach. I wish you good luck too. One thing is true also and that is that a great university graduates and I'm a graduate of it is just my husband but I know. That one of the things that keep grinding
away is money. Now if you could get that particular problem and feel alive. From sponsor many of the programs much of the research to give buildings who exists to do that and they have made money and we didn't OK right. Even so that's one of the one of your big stumbling blocks. It's not that they don't want to make you happy and make all of your lunch happy it's just. If you learn to be hampered or needed to because they are the source of some of the oil from the people the universe is going. I don't know whether or not you can approach it from that fact that point. You really can't write good luck with whatever I do way. I hear from a reader for very expressive wonderful stirring spiritual path. Q I have an Indian standing with his blanket
around him. That's been one of our thoughts. It was up to the north. I've always heard of it or the black cross. That's you but I don't for sure. And so it is beautiful and it's an image. It's just absolutely thought provoking. Good luck. All right thanks for the Koh i mean. Any comment you know only you know and thank you for your call ma'am. Would how much difference do you think it would make in terms of people's attitudes not only on this but other sorts of issues that touch on the conditions for Native Americans in America today how much difference would it make if there was some more in teaching in schools you know particularly primary and secondary schools more in history more teaching about Native Americans. Well you know. I think surely you know we're not just Johnny One notes that this is the only issue we dwell on as masque us it is probably one of many. My newspaper
covers issues from politics to corruption to you name it and we cover all issues that are important in people. And the lady that just called talked about the history books and. History books I learned from. I went to school at Holy Rosary Indian mission on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. They depicted the people my people as heathens as savages. And I'm sitting in school with all my classmates Indian people you know two bears two hawks you name all the people I went to school with and we're being taught from history books that are telling us that our own people were heathens and savages. So. I mean that's hard for us to overcome and reach a certain age. We have so many very kids drop out of school round eighth grade ninth grade because all of a sudden they find we were being taught just doesn't ring true. And therefore I continue my education when you know they've taught me so much stuff. Prior to that I don't believe in or that's just pure baloney.
- Focus 580
- Indian Mascots in College Sports
- Producing Organization
- WILL Illinois Public Media
- Contributing Organization
- WILL Illinois Public Media (Urbana, Illinois)
- AAPB ID
- Tim Giago, publisher, Indian Country Today, and Charlene Teters, Native American graduate student at the University of Illinois
- Talk Show
- university of illinois; Race/Ethnicity; mascots; Native Americans; Education; community; chief illiniwek; Cultural Studies; Sports
- Media type
Guest: Teters, Charlene
Guest: Giago, Tim
Host: Inge, David
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producer: Brighton, Jack
Producing Organization: WILL Illinois Public Media
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-b4850a423db (unknown)
Illinois Public Media (WILL)
Identifier: cpb-aacip-f7e52482ba8 (unknown)
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- Chicago: “Focus 580; Indian Mascots in College Sports,” 1998-10-16, WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 12, 2021, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-cn6xw4853k.
- MLA: “Focus 580; Indian Mascots in College Sports.” 1998-10-16. WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 12, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-cn6xw4853k>.
- APA: Focus 580; Indian Mascots in College Sports. Boston, MA: WILL Illinois Public Media, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-16-cn6xw4853k