Should school districts ban Native American imagery, names, and mascots?

In 2005, the NCAA asked its member colleges and universities to self-evaluate their mascots and team names in accordance with the organization's policy that its member schools compete with an "atmosphere of respect for and sensitivity to the dignity of every person". As a result of the survey, 19 teams were cited as having "potentially hostile or abusive" names, images, or mascots. With the Washington football team removing its mascot, more schools around the United States are reassessing the names printed on their jerseys, sweatshirts, gym floors, and fields. Should school districts ban Native American imagery, team names, and mascots?

investigate

He Acted As His High School's 'Indian.' 50 Years Later, He Calls For Ending Native American Mascots

Connecticut School Board Reinstates Mascot Native Americans Called Demeaning

Additional resources to think about

More than a Mascot: Rewriting Representation
This 5-part series, which was one of 25 finalists in NPR’s Student Podcast Challenge, was created by students from Pathways High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In the wake of the Wisconsin Association of School Board’s failure to pass a resolution that would retire Native American symbols, names, and images as sports mascots, the students dove into the topic as thoroughly as any adult journalists, exploring the painful past, racist roots, and history of the oppression and injustices toward Native Americans and that connection to the depictions of Native Americans as school mascots. Each episode is just over 10 minutes long, but a great example of student-driven solutions journalism.

Native American imagery is everywhere but understanding lags behind
PBS NewsHour’s Jeffery Brown visits a new exhibit at the National Museum of the American Indian titled “Americans,” which shows the pervasiveness and extent of the appropriation of Native American language, imagery, and symbols that are embedded into the national subconscious.

‘Indian Head’ Confronts Cultural Misappropriation in Mascots
A play titled ‘Indian Head’ addresses cultural appropriation through the eyes of a Native American teenage girl who vandalizes school property that depicts Native American imagery. The interview with the playwright Nikkole Salter talks about cultural appropriation and misappropriation, respect, and conflict. Salter says the conversation is important to talk about race, heritage, and context. Carla-Rae, a Native woman and actress who stars in the play, feels that the topic affects all of us in ways people may not know or understand and it’s important to take her place on stage to bring the conversation forward.

Should ALL Native American Mascots be BANNED?
With over 2,000 sports teams using their image in the U.S. and Canada alone, the perception of Native Americans has become so distorted that more people are familiar with fictional native people than real ones. This video tackles the racist and destructive use of Native American mascots that continues to portray them as a “savage” and “violent” people.

Not Your Mascot: Native Americans and Team Mascots
Professor of Ojibwe, and Native American author, trainer, and speaker Dr. Anton Treuer gives the history of the word "Redskin" and why humans shouldn't be sports mascots in general.

The Deep History - and Troubling Impact - of Sports Teams Using Native American Mascots
The article from TIME Magazine looks into the problematic history and impact of sports teams’ use of Native Americans as mascots, including stereotypes and misrepresentations of Native culture.

Are Native American High School Mascots On Their Way Out In Illinois?
A new bill in the Illinois House aims to require high schools using Native American mascots to get consent from a Native American tribe within 500 miles of the school if they want to continue using their mascot. But critics say that the fiscal impact of the legislation may hurt rural districts who are already struggling.

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