Native American Indian Sport Mascots
Mascot. A symbol for good luck is the dictionary meaning. Mascot; an animal, person or thing that represents a good luck charm. As I ponder on the Indian stereotype, there is no doubt in my mind that the Indian mascots, in our sports world today, is grossly misunderstood and misused by the popular masses. To the Indian People, these type of mascots are not charming in any way, yet alone bring any kind of good luck. Some may say, but it is all about pride, but when there is lack of understanding of a culture, there is truly no room for excuses. Ignorance is fatal, so it is time to educate and make one think about the damages of Native Indian Mascots.
In the Native American Indian sport mascot world, I am referring to such names as “Redskins”, “Indians”, “Warriors”, “Braves”. The name “Redskins”, alone is derogatory. You do not see any teams with names like “Wetbacks” or “Chincs” or even “Whitie“. A while back there was a restaurant named “Sambos”. Pressure came down on them during the Black Movement to either change the name or suffer boycotts or the death of a business. Eventually they sold out to places like “Denny’s”.
The name “Indians” is different! Wow! Go Caucasians! Go Africans! Can you just imagine what their mascots would be. Maybe the Caucasians would be a white guy dressed as a Puritan or may even look like Ben Franklin, or the Africans a witch doctor with a voodoo doll. We know this is not right, so why do we continue to feed the names connected to Indians with the tomahawk chop and goofy characters of stupid Indians. Remember Indians are people too!
A Prideful Name
As I wondered of the other sport names and their Mascots, I thought of the New Orleans Saints. Could their mascot be a Catholic Priest or Nun who runs around with a Bible in one hand and a Rosary in the other, with arms raised to the sky at each touchdown! Or maybe even kneeling to pray as the goalie punts for the extra point! No! The Saints’ mascot is a dog. A dog named Gumbo.
Warriors and Braves suggest great pride. This is a good name, but not for a mascot that is portrayed as an Indian with war paint and feather headdresses and mocking Indian dance and war cries around the goal post when points are scored. These images are misleading and a put down to the Indian People of this beautiful land. Why don’t these teams keep with selecting an animal that displays the pride of such names, such as...The Wolves...The Redhawks...The Gators instead of using stereotypes of people.
Why Yes, Indians Really Do Exist!
Chief Illiniwek prances at every sporting event for the Illinois University. This person who plays Chief Illiniwek may think he was taught correctly, but he was taken as a fool. He does every action that was taught in Hollywood. Remember the movie “Dances With Wolves”? Costner was taught Lakota language, but unbeknownst to him, he was taught the woman’s tongue. He spoke like a girl! A private joke among the Indians, I am sure. So understand, Chief Illiniwek is not a real Indian, but a Hollywood version. Oh yes! There are real Indians living today! Which brings me to the true crux of the problem.
Today’s Indian children must endure these slanders against their People. The name calling. The misrepresentation of their beliefs. The clown outfits. This deflates their self esteem, leaving them empty of pride and hope. Adding to the confusion of who they really are. These same children today are still mending from the broken families the government split apart in order to “educate”, so why must they also suffer from the racism that the sports world continues to be so insensitive to.
At the same token, these continued sport names and their mascots feed the rest of the world with the untruth. As the mascots wave the tomahawk and yells war cries and pounces around in Indian get-ups, it incorrectly teaches the rest of the world that all Indians are like the Hollywood versions. This racism is like cancer and the portrayal of these names and mascots help these cancer cells grow.
Here is the real truth. Not a Hollywood myth or a “black robe’s” version of the original people, but the natural truth. These various tribal Indians are real People! They cut and they bleed. They laugh. They love. They express joy and sorrow. They pray when they dance. Their Regalia (not costumes) is something worn with pride and mostly for ceremony. They really do wear jeans and T-shirts like everybody else. They believe in Creation. Their belief is in one single Creator. They may have many “Spirit Helpers”, much like Christian’s Angels, but never will you find these portrayed as mascots!
Change Is Coming!
Some luck is on the Native Indian’s side. Many of the Grade Schools, Middle and High Schools, across the country, are changing their mascots to help the healing. However, these changes are not noted by the masses. So the tide needs to turn more and the National Sports needs to become “Brave Warriors” and swallow their pride, burn the headdresses, stop the “chop” and change their names and mascots to something more respectful.
For those of you who refuse to give up your Native American Indian sport mascots, remember you are aiding in the spread of that cancerous racism all for the sake of a talisman. This may not effect you directly, but it does effect many other people and their lives. Let me ask you this. Which do you truly value more, human life built upon joy and compassion or a lucky charm that is all built on myth and negativity? Know that lucky charm will not get you far outside of any sports arena, and life itself is bigger than any stadium!