Mississippi has ten official cultural symbols. Sadly, they don’t score very high in my book.
|Natural Science Museum
|The Mississippi Game and Fish Commission’s Mississippi Museum of Natural Science
|Wildlife Heritage Museum
|Mississippi Wildlife Heritage Museum in Leland
|Historical Industrial Museum
|The Mississippi Industrial Heritage Museum, Inc,
|The Tupelo Auto Museum, Inc,
|American Folk Dance
|Grand Opera House
|Grand Opera House of Meridian
Mississippians started by adopting a flag salute. No obedience training for me. Next, they scored a hat trick, adopting three of the most redundant state symbols—milk, the square dance, and English. (Yes, the state insect is the equally redundant honeybee.)
They then proceeded to adopt a flurry of symbols that most people would find boring, including four museums. The one possible bright spot was the teddy bear, which became the first official state toy. Unfortunately, it has a dark side.
Over 100 years ago, President Theodore Roosevelt traveled to the Mississippi Delta to hunt black bears. Roosevelt hunted big game around the world, but this hunt made headlines because of its surprise ending.
Roosevelt couldn’t find any black bears to shoot. His assistants were worried. Finally, they captured a black bear and tied it to a willow tree. They then summoned Roosevelt and invited him to shoot it.
However, Roosevelt didn’t want to shoot an animal tied to a tree, so the bear was allowed to live. The news spread like wildfire.
The owner of a toy store in New York City began calling small stuffed bear cub toys “Teddy’s bears.” Today, we call them Teddy bears.
The story turned into a masterpiece of propaganda, portraying Teddy Roosevelt as a soft-hearted hero. Roosevelt was indeed a great conservationist. He even set aside the first U.S. national wildlife refuge.
Ironically, Roosevelt treated animals better than people. He was a very arrogant, racist, and brutal supporter of the American Empire. In fact, Roosevelt was amazingly similar to George W. Bush, Obama, Donald Trump, and “Genocide Joe” Biden.
Of course, that doesn’t mean Teddy bears are bad. Most people aren’t even aware of the connection between the toys and one of America’s biggest bullies.
Perhaps it’s best to ignore this historical trivia, because the teddy bear is about the only symbol separating Mississippi’s state symbols roster from rock bottom.