Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots

Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots

Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
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At a time of historic civic unrest and political polarization, the question of Native American mascots has returned to the mainstream. The Washington football team will change its racist name, but where do other teams with Native mascots stand?

This list only highlights a fraction of Native team names, most of which are found in American high schools. Some teams listed changed their names decades ago, some are just beginning to reckon with the issue of Native mascoting, and others will avoid the debate until it’s socially or economically convenient.

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Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
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Washington Football Team - Changing

After decades of activism against the mascot and recent pressure from sponsors, Washington will have a new name. The team name, a dictionary defined slur, was used for nearly a century. Now, DC team owner Daniel Snyder has finally decided to reverse course and says he wants to develop a new name “for the next 100 years.” But it was only a few years ago, 2013 to be exact, when Snyder said he would “never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

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Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
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Cleveland Indians - Likely to Change

The Cleveland baseball team got its current name in 1915, but a recent statement from the team suggests that its name could become history. Even team manager, Terry Francona, favors a name change.

Cleveland recently removed the racist caricature “Chief Wahoo” from its uniforms as well. But some Cleveland insiders say it will take until 2022 to change the team name.




Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
Photo: (Getty Images)

Chicago Blackhawks - Unlikely

The Blackhawks will keep their name even though most Chicago fans simply refer to their team as “da hawks.” After Washington and Cleveland started to consider changing their names, Chicago released a statement saying it would “expand awareness of Black Hawk and the important contributions of all Native American people.” Chicago is the only pro sports organization with a Native mascot dedicated to one person.

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Atlanta Braves - Unlikely

Atlanta Braves - Unlikely

Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
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Atlanta Braves - Unlikely

Atlanta will probably not change its name any time soon but it is reviewing the “tomahawk chop” a faux war chant and arm chop Braves fans, Chiefs fans, and FSU Seminoles fans do to rile up the home crowd. Last October, St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and Cherokee Nation member, Ryan Helsley, called the gesture, “disrespectful.” He said native mascots and stereotypical chants “devaluate [Native Americans] and how we’re perceived.”

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Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
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Kansas City Chiefs - Unlikely

A “Chief” is not a dictionary defined slur, but “not a slur” should not be the bar we set for team mascots. The Chief mascot fosters fan traditions like dressing as a caricature, participating in the tomahawk chop, and banging a drum before kickoff. Of course, none of these activities actually honor Native Americans, but they get midwestern fans loud!

Last week, the Super Bowl champions declined to comment on whether or not they are considering a name change.

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Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
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Golden State Warriors - Unlikely

The Golden State Warriors are a team name that’s not usually in the category of offensive or racist mascots, and there is good reason for that. Golden State’s current logo depicts the Golden Gate Bridge, and it has for a long time. But in the 60s, the then San Francisco Warriors used a Native headdress as the team’s logo. Since then, the Warriors have distanced themselves from any native images or logos.

Last week, Carmelo Anthony included the Warriors in his list of Native names in sports that need to go.

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Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
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Florida State - Unlikely

The Florida State athletic department has an active relationship with the Seminole Tribe, which FSU chief of Staff and Seminole Tribe liaison, Elizabeth Hirst, describes as a “solid partnership.” If the tribe or its members ever wanted to disassociate themselves from the school, FSU would stop the Seminole mascot “immediately.”

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Stanford University - Changed

The Stanford Indians changed their name in 1972 after Native students and staff called for the removal of the mascot. The activists presented a petition to the university ombudsperson that called for “the use of the Indian symbol be permanently discontinued.” After the ombudsperson accepted the demands, she presented the petition to Stanford President Richard Lyman, who permanently ended the use of the name at the university.

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Dartmouth College - Changed

Another example of smart people doing the right thing. Dartmouth College’s sports teams were unofficially referred to as the “Indians” for decades. But in 1974, Dartmouth’s board of trustees said that it found “use of the [Native] symbol in any form to be inconsistent with present institutional and academic objectives of the College in advancing Native American education.” Dartmouth still does not have an official mascot, but they are often referred to as the “Big Green.”

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St. John’s University - Changed

St. John’s University - Changed

 

Illustration for article titled Where Teams, Schools Stand On Issue of Native Mascots
Photo: (AP)

St. John’s University - Changed

St. Johns University changed its name from “Redmen” to “Red Storm” in the mid 90s when other colleges were abolishing their Native mascots. Funny how teams can change their names to something not offensive and still retain fans, recruits, and ticket buyers.

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