Yale and Dartmouth played their 100th football game against each other this weekend. Yale won, 21-13, for their first win of the season, but the historic victory was overshadowed by their own efforts to commemorate and honor the rivalry. Yale printed out special programs for the game, which were adorned with posters from past Yale-Dartmouth games. Dartmouth’s mascot was the Indians until 1974, and as you might be able to deduce, some of the posters from the Indians era that Yale chose to celebrate the rivalry are fairly racist.
Highlights include a bulldog treeing a Native American; another has a Yale football player setting a screaming Native American’s clothes on fire. A cursory search shows that they had plenty more offensive posters to choose from. Mary Lathryn Nagle, executive director for the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program, condemned the posters and called them “dehumanizing images of redface.”
Yale Athletics apologized yesterday for the program:
We apologize for yesterday’s football game program cover that included historic artwork of insulting portrayals of indigenous people, images that we have long considered to be a violation of our values of mutual respect, equality, and decency. We did not intend to perpetuate these portrayals or condone them.
Our intention was to recognize the 100-game relationship between Dartmouth College and Yale University. We are truly sorry for the hurt this program cover caused, particularly for those from Native American communities. Yale Athletics is committed to representing the best of Yale and upholding the University’s values, especially respect for all.
The Association of Native Americans at Yale thanked the school for their apology, and explained the problems with promoting the stereotype-fueled posters.
The program features the former mascot of Dartmouth College, which is officially no longer in use due to the racist stereotypes it perpetuates. Studies show the damaging effects of such images on Native peoples and young people of all races. The promotion of racist mascots creates non-inclusive learning environments for Native students, compounds challenges in promoting accurate portrayals of Indigenous cultures and traditions, and perpetuates prejudice and discrimination against Native peoples.