Native American mascots in sports
📖 History and context
The beginning of the movement to remove harmful “Indian” mascots can be traced back to the 1968 National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) campaign to address stereotypes found in pop culture and media, including sports mascots.
- There’s been significant progress since, with hundreds of names and mascots being removed in the last few decades thanks to Indigenous-led activism. But the work is not yet complete.
And while many opposed to removing Indigenous mascots say that they “honor Native Americans” or aren’t inherently harmful, countless studies have shown the real psychological damage these stereotypes cause for Indigenous and non-Indigenous people alike.
- The widespread use of “Indian” mascots caused Native American participants in one study to report lower self-worth. It also encouraged the use of racial slurs by non-Indigenous people.
- What’s more, a separate study found that the images led Indigenous youth to believe what they could achieve was limited by their race.
It’s not just a game, or just a chant, or just a character — these mascots cause real-life, lasting damage, and it’s well past time for change.