The Misrepresentation Of American Indians As Logos And Mascots

The Misrepresentation Of American Indians As Logos And Mascots

518
views

The mistreatment of American Indians is nothing new in the United States– from the Mystic massacre in 1637, to the Trail of Tears in 1838, to the Dakota Access Pipeline controversy in 2016. However, the exploitation goes beyond the physical harm inflicted upon this group– these humans– for around 400 years. Indigenous stereotypes and racial slurs infiltrate American society, particularly sports. Teams such as the Cleveland Indians, Washington Redskins, and Florida State University Seminoles are just a few of the plethora of teams that utilize racial caricatures as their logos and mascots. While these teams and their symbols have become second nature to cheering fans in stadiums all over the country, the appropriation of American Indian culture fosters racist attitudes.

For starters, the names of the teams themselves are offensive. The Cleveland Indians are named after a politically incorrect term for the indigenous peoples in North America. Upon Christopher Columbus’ arrival to the “New World” in the late 15th century and falsely claiming he had arrived in India, he referred to the natives as “Indians,” and the name stuck. Indians are from India, not America. Perhaps the most offensive team name is the Washington Redskins. The football team is named after a “dictionary defined racial slur” that derives from the scalping of American Indians and selling their bloody pelts for cash (National Congress of American Indians). The ‘R’ word for American Indians equates to the ‘N’ word for African Americans.

Not only are the names of these sports teams offensive, but also the appearance of their logos and mascots. The Cleveland Indians’ logo is a cartoonish, bright red head that is more comical than it is respectful. At Florida State University, (mostly white) students paint their faces, wear feathers in their hair, and shout war chants– a blasphemous appropriation of perhaps the most oppressed group of people by the United States (Zirin 2014). While some may argue that these representations do not encourage racism, scathing examples (like the Ohio high school cheerleaders who paraded “Get Ready for a Trail of Tears Part 2” when opposing another high school with an Indian as its mascot) prove otherwise (Payne 2016).

Controversy has led to debates about possibly changing names, mascots, and logos. Change the Mascot is one of many campaigns pushing for the eradication of dehumanizing sports names, logos, and mascots (particularly the Washington Redskins) by calling upon the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell directly. The push to eliminate degrading, American Indian symbols from sports has been met with equally strong pushback. Opponents to changing the names, mascots, and logos argue that it is disrupting tradition; however, a racist tradition should be disrupted. Furthermore, whose tradition is this? The Seminole Tribe of Florida dates back to at least 12,000 years ago; Florida State University adopted a Seminole as its logo and mascot in 1947 (semtribe.com). Others argue that the Natives don’t mind being represented in sports, but if they don’t mind, why do campaigns and legislation proposals– often spearheaded by American Indians– to end the use of American Indians as sports logos, names, and mascots exist? While the American Indian community faces many other issues that may seem more problematic than a mere sports team, the issue of cultural appropriation in sports nevertheless deserves attention.

Cover Image Credit: indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com

Popular Right Now

A Letter To My Go-To Aunt

Happiness is having the best aunt in the world.
22725
views

I know I don't say it enough, so let me start off by saying thank you.

You'll never understand how incredibly blessed I am to have you in my life. You'll also never understand how special you are to me and how much I love you.

I can't thank you enough for countless days and nights at your house venting, and never being too busy when I need you. Thank you for the shopping days and always helping me find the best deals on the cutest clothes. For all the appointments I didn't want to go to by myself. Thank you for making two prom days and a graduation party days I could never forget. Thank you for being overprotective when it comes to the men in my life.

Most importantly, thank you for being my support system throughout the numerous highs and lows my life has brought me. Thank you for being honest even when it isn't what I want to hear. Thank you for always keeping my feet on the ground and keeping me sane when I feel like freaking out. Thank you for always supporting whatever dream I choose to chase that day. Thank you for being a second mom. Thank you for bringing me into your family and treating me like one of your own, for making me feel special because you do not have an obligation to spend time with me.

You've been my hero and role model from the time you came into my life. You don't know how to say no when family comes to you for help. You're understanding, kind, fun, full of life and you have the biggest heart. However, you're honest and strong and sometimes a little intimidating. No matter what will always have a special place in my heart.

There is no possible way to ever thank you for every thing you have done for me and will continue to do for me. Thank you for being you.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

The NBA Draft Lottery In A Nutshell

A quick overview of the 2019 NBA lottery and which teams got the best picks.

93
views

The NBA draft lottery took place on Tuesday night where all of the NBA teams were looking to see their fate heading into the 2019 draft. Many people know that anything can truly happen with a lottery. This year proved that statement again as the New Orleans Pelicans claimed the number one overall pick. The Pelicans had just a six percent chance of claiming the number one pick yet they still beat the odds. The Pelicans are now in the driver seat with picking up top prospect Zion Williamson from Duke University. Most teams that knew they weren't making the playoffs tried to tank this year in order to pursue the college basketball icon.

As for the remaining top five picks, the Memphis Grizzlies got the number two overall pick, the New York Knicks with the number three overall pick, the Los Angeles Lakers at number four, and finally the Cleveland Cavaliers at number five. Most of the teams with the highest percentage of claiming the #1 overall pick did not even make it in the top five which is rare. An example of this is the Phoenix Suns who had one of the worst records in the NBA this past season with a record of 19-63. The Suns got screwed over at this year's lottery where they claimed the #6 pick.

The teams that got the most out of this year's lottery were the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Atlanta Hawks. The Atlanta Hawks, in my opinion, got the benefit of the doubt this year as they have secured two spots in the first 10 draft picks of the 2019 NBA Draft. There is a lot of talent in this draft class so this is a make or break draft for a lot of these struggling teams. Prospects like RJ Barrett, Ja Morant, Jarrett Culver, and Cam Reddish. A lot of these prospects are ready to make an impact on whatever team they end up on. As for the projected number one overall pick Zion Williamson, he has gotten compared to NBA greats such as Shaquille O'Neal and Charles Barkley.

During an interview with Bill Simmons on his podcast show, NBA star Kevin Durant said that Zion is a once-in-a-generation athlete. The 2019 NBA draft should be quite interesting to see where these top prospects end up playing for. One thing is for almost certain in that the New Orleans Pelicans are going to end up with Zion Williamson with the number one overall pick in this year's draft. With that being said the Pelicans could have quite a bright future with this future star and hopefully, the rookie can help keep NBA star Anthony Davis in New Orleans. Anything can happen though during the NBA draft and we will just have to wait and see what happens.

Related Content

Facebook Comments