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Why We Should Not Use Native American Mascots

Updated on February 20, 2016

The Truth about Native American Mascots

What Native American Society is Facing

  • According to Department of Justice Analysis the Native Americans are the most likely of all races in the United States to be harmed by violence by a person of a different race.
  • The Native American teenagers have the highest rate of suicide out of all the populations in the United States.
  • The prevalence of Tuberculosis is 500 percent higher among Native Americans than that of the other populations.
  • Only 13.3 percent of Native Americans have undergraduate degrees. The general population has 24.4 percent with undergraduate degrees.
  • In 2003 to 2004 only 49.3 percent of Native Americans graduated from high school. For Caucasians, the statistics say that 76% graduated from high school.
  • For Native Americans, 75% of deaths for ages 12 to 20 are caused by violence and/or intentional injuries, homicide, or suicide.

The History Behind the Word

History of the Term "Redskin"

In the year of 1755, King George issued a proclamation against the Penobscot Indians that ordered, "His Majesty's subjects to embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing, and destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians". The government of the colonies paid people 50 pounds for the scalps of male Native Americans over 12 years of age, 25 pounds for scalps of female Native Americans over 12 years of age, and 20 pounds for the bloodied scalps of Native American children under twelve. The document does not use the term, "redskin". However, in 1863, a Winona, MN, newspaper, "The Daily Republican", announced in their written document, "The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200.00 for every red-skin sent to purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all Indians east the Red River are worth". According to "An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States" the term "redskin" was not used to refer to the scalps of Native Americans, but instead the term was used in reference to the bloodied corpses of Native Americans killed by scalp-hunters.

The History Behind the Name

Native American Girls

Damage to Society

Research in social science has documented that Native American mascots have serious and permanent psychological damage and social consequences along with cultural consequences for Native Americans. Clinical psychologist Michael Friedman has said that a series of studies have shown that when images of modern day Native American mascots are shown to Native Americans their self esteem goes down hill, their belief in community decreases, their belief in achievement decreases, and they get depressed. Also studies have shown that when a Non-Native American person is shown images of Native American mascots their viewpoint of the Native Americans goes downhill. Everyone loses. Making a mockery of the Native American people is damaging to all of society as a whole, not just the Native Americans.

Hurting Native American Children Today

Everyone Loses

Some Caucasians think that Native Americans should feel honored by being portrayed as Mascots. Native Americans do not feel this way. They are deeply, deeply offended by being portrayed in this manner. They feel as if they are being made a mockery of. The actual definition of racism is trying to control a person, including the way they feel. Basically, what these people are saying is that the Native Americans are not even allowed to feel how they are going to feel. The use of Native American mascots is demeaning and degrading to both Caucasian and Native Americans. It speaks very poorly of the Caucasian population.

Web of Life

Statistics on Rape and Violence

  • Native American women are 50 % more likely than African American males of 12 years of age and older to be a victim of a violent crime.
  • 80 % of the perpetrators of violent crimes against Native Americans are of a different race.
  • Women who are Native American are 3.5 times more likely to a victim of rape or sexual assault than women of other races.
  • Every 98 out of 1,000 Native Americans is a victim of a violent crime, over twice the rate of white people which is 40 out of 1,000.

What the People Say

We Need To Teach Respect

Creating A Culture of Genocide

Our behavior is often dictated by what goes on in our subconscious mind. If Native Americans are being portrayed as mascots for peoples' entertainment and being dehumanized in that manner, it creates a culture of violence, rape, and genocide against these Native People. It may not seem like a big thing. However, the reality is that dehumanizing someone and making a mockery of them may lead to further desensitization of them as being human and/ or people which leads often to crimes against them. This appears to be the reality of what is going on with Native Americans today as was three hundred years ago. If it were any other group of people like the African Americans being portrayed as mascots it would not be allowed. There was the restaurant, "Sambo's Restaurant" which was closed down for obvious racial reasons. Using a dictionary defined racial slur such as "redskins" as the name of a sport's team should be done away with.

The Lawsuit on the "Redskins"

The Reality Behind Dan Snyder

The original owner of the team "The Redskins" George Preston Marshall was an adamant segregationist who helped create the N.F.L.'s ban of African American players. The team "The Redskins" was the last team to be integrated. The present owner, Dan Snyder, still honors Marshall by naming a part of the Washington stadium after him. Despite the fact that Dan Snyder refused to change the name, many members of Congress from both parties, the President of the United States, the President of the United Nations, Olympian Billy Mills, P.G.A. golfer Noah Begay, broadcaster Bob Costos, current and former N.F.L. players Richard Sterman, Champ Bailey, and Calvin Hill have all spoken out against using a racial slur as the name of a sports team.

Dan Snyder

Why We Should Respect Native Americans

  • According to he Department of Defense, 22,569 people enlisted in the U.S. military and 1,297 officers in the military doing active duty are Native American.
  • Native Americans have the highest rate of people serving in the armed services of any ethnic group in the United States.
  • In WWI, from 1917 to 1918, even though the Native Americans were not considered to be U.S. citizens, over 12,000 Native Americans enlisted in the United States military.
  • In WWII, from 1941 to 1945, over 44,000 Native Americans served. In 1942, 99% of all Native American males that were eligible had registered for the draft.
  • During the Vietnam War, over 42,000 Native Americans served with 90% of them being volunteers.
  • In Operation Iraqi Freedom starting on March 19, 2003 to the present, according to the D.O.D.'s July 2005 report, at that time, 24,000 of the 1.4 million active duty serviceman were Native American.

Lori Piestewa

What a Warrior Really Is

Lori Piestewa was the first Native American woman to die on foreign soil in Iraq. She died at the age of 23. She had lived from December 14, 1979, to March 23, 2003. Her brother Wayland when asked said about her, "Maybe watching all those Westerns with people getting scalped makes people think that's what a warrior is. But, for the Hopis being a warrior has nothing to do with hurting people. My sister is a warrior because she did the right thing, the honorable thing, going to Iraq when she didn't have to because she felt it was the ethical and moral thing to do. That's what being a warrior is about: doing what is right, even when it's difficult and means sacrifice."

Native Americans in WWII

Veteran Native Americans

What veterans are coming home to today in the United States is not what they came home to in WWII. Studies have shown that 29.5 per 100,000 veterans or roughly 50% more than that of civilians commit suicide in today's society. A national estimate based on the Department of Veterans' Affairs analysis of death records from 21 states says that 22 veterans take their lives every day. Native American veterans are coming home to a cultural that mocks them and uses racial slurs against them for sporting events. Billionaire Dan Snyder is still living and promoting racial slurs while Lori Piestewa and many other Native Americans died so the United States can even have sporting events to begin with.

We Need To End This

How To End This:

  • Write to Roger Goodell at N.F.L. at N.F.L. Commissioner at 345 Park Avenue New York, NY 10154
  • Call the N.F.L. league office at 212-450-2000
  • Send a message to Commissioner Goodell on Twitter @nflcommish with hashtag #changethemascot
  • Write to N.F.L.'s new Vice President of Social Responsibility Anna Isaarson at the same address or email her at and let her know you want a name change.
  • Challenge local schools near you to change their mascot if it is a Native American mascot. It has to start somewhere.
  • Teach your kids and other people that the Native Americans are deserving of our respect and that using them as mascots is not respectful.

A book That Teaches Ethical Values


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