News Details

Stephanie Fryberg was quoted in Geographical about the changing use of Native American mascots and imagery by US sports teams

Sidelining the Redskins – How US sports are facing an identity crisis

Written by  Abigail Spink

Native American communities in the US are devising their own ways of tackling the country’s ‘Mascot problem’

The Seattle Chieftains became the Redhawks in 2000, Arkansas state Indians became the ‘Red Wolves’ in 2008, the North Dakota Fighting Sioux became the ‘Fighting Hawks’ in 2012, and as of this month the Belding Redskins have become the Belding Black Knights. The days of feather headdresses, tribal warpaint and plastic tomahawks in US sporting stadiums are being increasingly numbered, as questions about cultural entitlement continue to be raised across the country.

The national debate concerning indigenous rights and representation concerns college and major league sports teams – the Washington Redskins of the NFL being among the most famous – that use Native American-themed monikers and mascots. The long-held dispute persists between teams and anti-mascot protestors, who argue that such names and imagery perpetuate demeaning racial stereotypes and symbolise a history of Anglo-American supremacy...

Anti-mascot campaigners claim that clubs and their supporters who champion caricature mascots and ‘Playing Indian’ are symbolic of the romanticisation of Native Americans by mainstream culture. Indigenous communities remain some of the poorest and most marginalised minority groups in the US and a 2008 report from Stephanie Fryberg, associate professor of American Indian studies at the University of Washington, explores the ‘psychological consequences of American Indian mascots’ on respective communities. Fryberg establishes that ‘...mascots are harmful because they remind American Indians of the limited ways others see them and, in this way, constrain how they can see themselves.’

Read the entire article here.