culture, it seems that America has a fascination with Native American
imagery. Many drive cars that are Cherokee, Navajo, or Winnebago models
and go to schools with mascots like the Warriors, Braves, Indians and
Fighting Reds. On the weekends, they pull for professional sports teams
such as the Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, and the Cleveland Indians.
than 30 years, the debate has been raging over the use of Native American
imagery, in the form of names and mascots, by high schools, college and
professional teams. The case for keeping sports mascots and logos the
way they are seems to have its entrenched supporters, but the opponents
of using Indian images and names to represent sports teams are growing
behind a large grassroots effort of civil rights organizations, multicultural
groups, Native American activist organizations and tribal leaders.
These activist organizations continually work to banish clownish figures
like the Cleveland Indian's Chief Wahoo and racially insensitive names
like the Washington Redskins. These activists argue that these images
and names are demeaning and dehumanizing. Does it matter that these symbols
are caricatures of human beings or of a race of people? Does this imagery
In a recent
Sports Illustrated Magazine, a poll of Native Americans and sports fans,
conducted by the independent Peter Harris Research Group, was one of the
top stories. The results suggest that even though Native American activists
are deeply concerned and opposed to Indian mascots, the general Native
American population does not really care. So do Indian names and mascots
actually offend Native Americans or is this just an issue that self-appointed
Native American activists care about?
mascots and nicknames are deemed offensive and sports teams have to change
team mascots and logos - then where will it all end. For example, will
the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame have to change its name because some
Irish might find it offensive? Similarly, what if Nordic people find the
name of the Minnesota Vikings football team offensive? Will they have
to change also? Other nicknames and mascots, however, that were based
on stereotypes of other races, like the San Diego Blacks and Houston Wops,
have been changed with no earth-shattering effect, so why do sports teams
still hold onto Indian mascots with the excuse of tradition. Since when
is a sports team's name more important than the sensitivities of our fellow
The answers to these questions affect all Americans. The debate is about
more than sports teams and what they call themselves; it is about how
Americans treat one another. It is about the respect that different ethnic
groups have for those different than themselves in terms of history, physical
characteristics, values, and most importantly, emotions. This research
is intended for a broad audience - not just sports fans and Native Americans
- but all American citizens, of every ethnicity, young and old.
1) King, Richard. Beyond the Cheers: Race as Spectacle in College Sport.
Albany: State University of New York
Press, 2001. (CALL NUMBER: GV076.32.K52 2001)
2) King, Richard and Charles Springwood, eds. Team Spirits: The Native
American Mascots Controversy. With a foreword by Vine Deloria, Jr.
Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2001. (CALL NUMBER: GV714.5 .K56
Fair or Foul? Native Americans Versus the Cleveland Indians: OH v.
Bellecourt. 55 min. New York: Courtroom Television Network, 1998.
Videocassette. (CALL NUMBER: KF224.B455 F347 1998)
General Reference Gold:
November 27). Mind Your Own Mascot: For Years, Native American Mascots
Have Been Under Siege - but Their Fans Are Beginning to Fight Back. Newsweek
[Online], 69. Available: Infotrac General Reference Center Gold [2002,
Mickey. (2001, August 6). Brave, Courageous, Noble - and Insulted. Indianapolis
Business Journal [Online], 22(21), 15. Available: Infotrac General
Reference Center Gold [2002, September 13].
Jr., E. Newton and Robert Lyons. (1997, April). Perpetuating the Wrong
Image of Native Americans. JOPERD: The Journal of Physical Education,
Recreation & Dance [Online], 68(4), 4-6. Available: MasterFILE
Premier [2002, September 11].
4) Klein, Frederick. (2000, November 17). Hailing the Chief: Illiniwek's
Last Stand? Wall Street Journal [Online], 236(98), W11. Available:
MasterFile Premier [2002, September 11].
5) Price, S.L. (2002, March 4). The Indian Wars. Sports Illustrated
[Online], 66. Available: LexisNexis Academic [2002 September 4].
6) Robinson, Eugene. (1999, August 22). Images, Antics and Insults. The
Washington Post [Online], W05. Available: LexisNexis Academic [2002
7) Zawacki, Michael. (2000, July). Welcome to the Show. Inside Business
[Online], 2(7), 30-36. Available: LexisNexis Academic [2002 September
1) Title: National
Coalition on Racism in Sports & Media
The homepage of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports & Media.
The site is organized well. The coalition has a board of directors made
up of Native American professionals and others who are very vocal about
their detest and hatred for Indian nicknames and mascots. Their contact
information is also listed if a viewer had questions or needed additional
information. This site is very indicative of how most Native American
activist organizations feel about the debate. The site includes a well-written
and well-researched essay by the coalition's vice president, an anti-Indian
mascot poster that can be purchased and links to the coalition's press
The American Indian Movement
Logos and Mascots
One of the most poignant essays on the Web that describes the emotional
effects of Indian mascots on Native Americans. It suggests a more personal
side of the debate as the writer describes how drunken fans dressed
in eagle feathers at a sport's game mocks something Native Americans
hold sacred. The essay also offers some interesting analogies to other
mascots. For example, the writer asks how Catholics would feel if they
saw New Orleans Saints' fans dressed as the Pope and doing the "crucifix
The essay is a part of the Walk for Justice Documents, which strive
to bring public awareness to current Native issues. However, the Walk
for Justice site, is linked to Dennis Bank's, the author of the essay,
homepage. Banks is a self-described Native American leader, activist,
teacher and author. In 1968, he co-founded the American Indian Movement.
Banks is also the leader of the Walk for Justice.
3) Title: American
Indian Sports Team Mascots
The homepage of the American Indian Sports Team Mascots. This site has
an extremely large amount of information about the debate. Again, however,
it is from the point of view of Native American activists. The site
has links to a lot of factual information also, though, which makes
it very valuable for research. There is a rundown of all fifty states
that documents every resolution, policy, protest, and activity that
has occurred in each location. The site also tells how many sports teams
in each state use Native American tokens, the most used Native American
mascot or nickname in the state and how many teams use the term "Redskins."
There is a link to education resources that have been developed by professional
educators on how to deal with this topic in schools. There is also a
list of all the professional sports teams and a list of all college
sports teams that use Native American logos or mascots. To make it easy
for viewers to "get involved now," the list includes mailing
addresses of each team. One of the most valuable features of the site
is a link to all recent published news articles about the subject. Of
course, the list is only of articles that favor the elimination of Native
American Indian Sports Teams Mascots
4) Title: Traditions:
Seminoles - Heroic Symbol at Florida State
An article written by Dr. Dale Lick, former president of Florida State
University, that was published in USA Today on May 18, 1993.
This is one of the few Web sites that condone the use of Native American
mascots and symbols. In the article, Lick writes that over the years,
FSU's special task force has worked closely with the Seminole Tribe
of Florida to ensure that all Seminole symbols and traditions are honored
and respected by the university's use. More importantly, the article
includes a quote from the Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida,
which says that Seminoles and FSU Seminoles are both winners.
Florida State University
5) Title: American Indian Opinion Leaders: American
Indian Mascots - Respectful Gesture or Negative Stereotype?
This is a survey taken by Indian Country Today - Leading Native
American Stereotype - of its readers to gauge their view on the Indian
mascot issue. The site has pie graphs to illustrate the results and
also includes direct quotes from many of the respondents. This site
will be most helpful in my research, because the survey can be compared
to the Sports Illustrated poll that suggested that most Native
Americans do not care about the mascot issue.
Indian Country Today