'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
of racism toward Indian people to stop. I long for the
day when we can
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
only three categories that
nearly all sports team names fall
1. Animals 2. Objects
Falcons, Lions, Tigers, Ravens, Bulls,
Dolphins, Ducks, Jaguars etc.
Rockets, Suns, Jets, Red Sox, White
Steelers, Spartans, Buccaneers,
Cowboys, Rangers, Lakers etc.
Obviously there are
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
Now, a list
of 'Indian' team names/mascots....
Indians, Redsk**s, Fighting Illini, Chippewas,
Warriors, Redmen, Chieftains etc.
which category do these fit
Before we answer that, it needs to be fully
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
and never were, but were considered
to be 'uncivilized', bloodthisty, demon 'savages'
by european invaders
merely because Native societies were foreign to
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
would receive payment for their deer-skins,
their, beaver-skins, their raccoon-skins,
It is sickening that
this horrifying word is still used as a sports team
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....
addressed that, which category do these
so-called 'Indian' sports team names fit
Animals? Objects? Professions?
The answer of course, is simple, none
of the above! These
names/mascots fall into the
It may be argued that the
names 'Chiefs', 'Warriors'
and 'Chieftains' fit
into the 'PROFESSIONS'
category. Allow me to
explain why they don't.
you think of a 'warrior', what's the first image that pops
your mind? How about a 'chief' or a 'chieftain'? These
terms are nearly always
applied to American Indian people.
some time to investigate the antics and images of teams
use these names/mascots. I have yet to find one team
one of these names that isn't up to their ears in the use
highly offensive racially geared antics and images. It is
to this strong racially offensive connection that I tie
3 team names/mascots to the 'RACIAL' category.
American Indians are a race of people,
ANIMALS, OBJECTS, or 'PROFESSIONS'.
So how does this equate to racial oppression?
Allow me to explain....
me begin by addressing the obvious first. The
'reds**n' and 'brave' are, by their definition
racial slurs. 'Reds**n' is a historic word
came into use during the times when Indian
women and children were hunted like animals
murdered, then scalped. These scalps or
were then turned in for a bounty. The
'brave' is a demeaning word used for many
in reference to Indian men. It stems
the once popular belief that Indians were
than human. Indian men were also referred
to as 'bucks', and Indian women as 'does.' These
terms dehumanize and insult. The continued use of
demeaning words leads me to believe that this
human' belief still exists today....
names oppress Indian
oppress because they continue in the
use of extreme
stereotypical antics, words
Antics like the 'tomahawk-chop', mock
non-Indians painting their faces
and dressing-up like
'Indians', mascots performing
mock 'Indian' dances
or throwing fiery spears etc..
children cannot possibly look at a stadium full of
of people mocking their ethnicity and making
of their traditions and feel good about being Indian. This
what 'Indian mascots' do. They glorify all the stupid old
and steal the pride Indian children could have in
beauty of their race. They insult the entire Indian race.
an entire race.... the very real definition of racism....
RACIAL should not be a sports team
category. Did you know that Irish people, not
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
"I believe that the hidden agenda behind Indian
and logos is about cultural, spiritual, and intellectual
exploitation. It's an issue of power and
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
make you believe that someone's truth is the absolute
truth. Furthermore, it's the ability to define
and to get other people to affirm that reality as if
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
these honest words have touched
your heart and made
common sense to you. Racism
is racism, no matter
how 'attractive' one makes it
(Thank you) for taking the time to
Stop in again, as maybe some
day you will come here, and this page will be gone!
Back to 'We are STILL here!'
Back to 'Battling Racism'
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Written by - John Two-Hawks