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Battling Racism

How 'Indian' mascots oppress
Written by John Two-Hawks

Let me begin by saying that the fact that I even have to have a page on my
site for this is a crying shame.  These racist images and names, offensive
to American Indian people, should have been long gone by now.  Yet, here
they are, still tomahawk-chopping with racism in sports and media while
they grin at us like that red-faced racist 'chief wahoo'.  I get a bit weary and
tired of trying to explain what is racist about these names and mascots.
I am in no way a fanatic about political correctness, and besides, that is not
what this is about.  It is about racism on a national scale, and it must stop.

Point in Case....
Daniel Snyder, owner of the NFL team the Washington R[acist]s, was made
acutely aware,
back when he purchased the team, of the fact that the team's
name is a nasty racial slur which is just as ugly as the "N" word.  He chose to
do nothing, and by doing so, announced to the world that he was a racist,
because everyone with a brain knows that "inaction to racism is racism".
Message to Daniel Snyder:  I don't hate you, but I do hate that it seems you
care more about making a buck than you do about doing what is right.  Sure,
it would take some courage, and certainly some investment to, at long last,
rid the team representing the nation's capitol of its racist name, but hey, if
you need advice on how to do it, you can always call Stanford University!

If you belong to a school or pro franchise that endorses racism toward
Indian people with its name, logo, and/or mascot, I ask you to put on your
common sense cap, read this page, then do something about it.  It is long
overdue for this form of racism toward Indian people to stop.  I long for the
day when we can remove this page from my website....  May it come soon.
(Been here now for over 14 years....  still waiting.......)

Does it really need to be explained why the "N" word is not
used as the name for a sports team?   Probably not.  And does
it need to be explained why using racist caricatures of other
minority groups as a team 'mascot' would be unthinkable?
Again, probably not.  These things are now common sense
for most sensible people.  Yet, for reasons deeply ingrained
in American culture, First Nations people are expected to
explain why certain words and images are blatantly racist!
And as if that weren't enough of an insult, often the reaction
from people who have had these issues brought to their
attention is to either do nothing to change it, or worse,
to actually argue in defense of racism!!  Unbelievable!

And so....  Here I go again, with the "explanation"....

Let's take a look at sports team names in general.  There are
three categories that nearly all sports team names fall into.
1. Animals  2. Objects  3. 'Professions'

Some examples:
Eagles, Bears, Falcons, Lions, Tigers, Ravens, Bulls,
Wolverines, Cardinals, Dolphins, Ducks, Jaguars etc.

Pistons, Bullets, Rockets, Suns, Jets, Red Sox, White
Sox, Stars, Rockies etc.

Packers, Kings, Steelers, Spartans, Buccaneers,
Vikings, 49ers, Cowboys, Rangers, Lakers etc.

Obviously there are exceptions.  Such as:
Bills (named after Buffalo Bill), Redwings (could be an object
or an animal), Titans (a large giant), Rockies (a mountain) etc.

But most sports team names fit into the 3 categories.
Now, a list of
'Indian' team names/mascots....
Chiefs, Braves, Indians, Redsk**s, Fighting Illini, Chippewas,
Savages, Seminoles, Warriors, Redmen, Chieftains etc.

So which category do these fit into?

Before we answer that, it needs to be fully understood
that some of these so-called 'Indian' sports team names
are actually racial slurs.  Obviously, a racial slur is an
completely unacceptable choice for a sports team name.

Here is a list of some of the racial slurs
which are still used as sports team names:
I don't think this one needs a whole lot of explaining.  Indian people are not beasts,
and never were, but were considered to be 'uncivilized', bloodthisty, demon 'savages'
by european invaders
merely because Native societies were foreign to them.

This is a word that has been used to refer to Indian women.  Used as a name for many parks,
valleys, mountains etc.  The term 'squaw' is VERY offensive to Indian women.  The term was
taken from an Algonquin word which made reference to female genitalia.  The word was
taken and twisted by those european immigrants who would rape Indian women.  They used
the term in much the same way the "C" word is used today, as a denigrating term to women.

Used as a name for many sports teams, this word is offensive by its very nature.  In it's
origin, it refers to the bloody scalps of Indian children, women and men that were sold for
bounties aside animal skins in the USA.  At this sad period in american history, Indians
young and old, male and female, were hunted like animals by bounty hunters.  They were
killed, and then scalped.
  When these bounty hunters would come to the trading post, they
would receive payment for their deer-skins,
their, beaver-skins, their raccoon-skins, and
their red-skins. It is sickening that
this horrifying word is still used as a sports team name.

This is a word that has been used to denigrate Indian men.  It dehumanizes the Indian male
and equates him to
something less than human.  The terms 'buck' and 'doe' were also used
by early european immigrants as a way to patronize Indian men and women.  As you can see,
they also infer that the Indian person is in some way inhuman.  We are
men, NOT 'braves'....

This is a word that is commonly given as a nickname which insults Indian
men.  The cultural equivelant would be to nickname all white men 'Prez' or 'King'.
The term 'chief' itself is incorrect.  Indian leaders were never 'chiefs', but headmen,
or clan mothers, and so on.  Not 'chiefs'.
  Native leaders were highly disrespected by
the USA.  So calling someone 'Chief', is just a way to continue that disrespect....

So having addressed that, which category do these
so-called 'Indian' sports team names fit into?
Animals?  Objects?  Professions?

The answer of course, is simple, none
of the above!  These names/mascots fall into the
category: RACIAL.  It  may be argued that the
names 'Chiefs', 'Warriors' and 'Chieftains' fit
into the 'PROFESSIONS' category.  Allow me to
explain why they don't.

When you think of a 'warrior', what's the first image that pops
into your mind?  How about a 'chief' or a 'chieftain'?  These
3 terms are nearly always applied to American Indian people.
Take some time to investigate the antics and images of teams
that use these names/mascots.  I have yet to find one team
using one of these names that isn't up to their ears in the use
of highly offensive racially geared antics and images.  It is
due to this strong racially offensive connection that I tie
these 3 team names/mascots to the 'RACIAL' category.

American Indians are a race of people, not
So how does this equate to racial oppression?
Allow me to explain....

Let me begin by addressing the obvious first.  The
terms 'reds**n' and 'brave' are, by their definition
alone, racial slurs.  'Reds**n' is a historic word
which came into use during the times when Indian
men, women and children were hunted like animals
and murdered, then scalped.  These scalps or
'redsk**s' were then turned in for a bounty.  The
term 'brave' is a demeaning word used for many
centuries in reference to Indian men.  It stems
from the once popular belief that Indians were
less than human.  Indian men were also referred
to as 'bucks', and Indian women as 'does.'  These
terms dehumanize and insult.  The continued use of

these demeaning words leads me to believe that this
'less than human' belief still exists today....

These 'Indian' mascots/team names oppress Indian
people.  They oppress because they continue in the
use of extreme negative stereotypical antics, words
and images.  Antics like the 'tomahawk-chop', mock
'Indian war-chants', non-Indians painting their faces
and dressing-up like 'Indians', mascots performing
mock 'Indian' dances or throwing fiery spears etc..

Indian children cannot possibly look at a stadium full of
thousands of people mocking their ethnicity and making
fun of their traditions and feel good about being Indian.  This
is what 'Indian mascots' do.  They glorify all the stupid old
stereotypes and steal the pride Indian children could have in
the beauty of their race.  They insult the entire Indian race.

Insulting an entire race.... the very real definition of racism....

RACIAL should not be a sports team name/mascot
category.  Did you know that Irish people, not so
long ago, fought Notre Dame about the harmful
use of the name 'Fighting Irish'?  So you see, this
issue is not exclusively an Indian issue.  Many
thousands of institutions, grade-school, collegiate
and professional, have made the decision to do
the right thing and remove their RACIAL names
in exchange for names that fall into the three
categories above.  It is the morally right choice.


"I believe that the hidden agenda behind Indian mascots
and logos is about cultural, spiritual, and intellectual
exploitation.  It's an issue of power and control.  These
negative ethnic images are driven by those that want
to define other ethnic groups and control their
images.  To me, power and control is the ability to
make you believe that someone's truth is the absolute
truth.  Furthermore, it's the ability to define a reality
and to get other people to affirm that reality as if it
were their own.  As long as such negative mascots
and logos remain within the arena of school
activities, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous
children are learning to tolerate racism in schools."

                Excerpt from an article by Dr. Cornel Pewewardy

It is my hope that these honest words have touched
your heart and made common sense to you.  Racism
is racism, no matter how 'attractive' one makes it
look.  Pilamaye (Thank you) for taking the time to
read this material.  Stop in again, as maybe some
day you will come here, and this page will be gone!


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Written by - John Two-Hawks