“INDIAN” MASCOTS: Your part in ending a legacy of racism


Background: The use of racist and derogatory “Indian” sports mascots, logos, and symbols has perpetuated negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples. Rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes contribute to a disregard for the diverse cultural heritages of Native peoples.



In 1968, NCAI launched a campaign to end negative and harmful stereotypes perpetuated by media and popular culture. These efforts have since been rooted in an attempt to achieve social justice and racial equality for Native people. Stereotypes significantly affect how Native people view the world and their place in society, and also perpetuate inaccurate—many times disrespectful and racist—perceptions of Native people by society. NCAI’s position is directly linked to ongoing efforts to build a healthy and nurturing environment for Native youth to flourish and become the next generation of leaders and Native citizens. What you can do - write letters that:
1. Support legislation that would repeal federal trademarks of “Indian” themed mascots, names, and logos. The Administration should support legislation to amend the Trademark Act of 1946, banning the use of the term ‘Redsk*n’ and canceling the federal registrations of trademarks using that term. Usage of this term carries negative historic connotations reminiscent to the eras of termination of tribes and the assimilation of Native peoples. The explicit support of President Obama and his Administration would assist in this important effort.
2. Urge the Secretary of Education to eliminate race-based “Native” logos, mascots, and names from state educational institutions, especially those receiving federal funds. The Secretary of Education should also issue guidance to schools regarding the history of these mascots, logos, and names, and how these practices have led to bullying Native students. Additionally, the Secretary of Education in coordination with other federal entities should conduct listening sessions to gather information on the use of “Native” themed mascots, logos, and names. The information collected from these Listening Sessions should be compiled in a draft conclusion and recommendations document and shared with tribes for further input.
3. Issue an Executive Order banning the display of racist paraphernalia in the federal workplace. The racist and denigrating name and logo of the Washington NFL team – and other sports franchises that denigrate Native peoples – have no place in federal government agencies and personnel activities including displays on walls or wearing of paraphernalia and clothing by federal agency employees or contractors. Native employees in federal service should not have to confront racist and offensive images in the workplace. As the nation’s largest employer, a ban on racist sports images in the workplace by the federal government would set an example for other employers to follow. In particular, the Departments of Justice and Education share the important responsibility of ensuring that students are protected from discrimination, harassment, and bullying in our nation’s schools. For Native youth, racist sports images can create a hostile environment that negatively impacts their self-esteem.
Contact Brian Howard, NCAI Legislative Associate - 202.466.7767 or bhoward@ncai.org or barb@munson.net.