For more than half a century, American Indian tribes and their advocates tried in vain to persuade professional sports teams to drop names offensive to Native peoples.
But the movement finally gained traction in recent years. Washington’s pro football team dropped its Redskins moniker in 2020 after decades of protest, and last month announced it had adopted the name Commanders. In July, the Cleveland Indians, which dropped the club’s Chief Wahoo mascot in 2019, announced it was changing its name to the Guardians. The Major League Baseball club had been the Indians for more than a century, since 1915.
And then there are the holdouts: the Atlanta Braves baseball team, the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs, and the National Hockey League’s Chicago Blackhawks have no immediate plans to change their names, and Braves fans still proudly simulate the arm-swaying “tomahawk chop” and American Indian chant at home games.
Stephanie A. Fryberg, a psychology professor at the University of Michigan and a member of the Tulalip Tribes who is featured in the documentary, led a study published in 2020 that revealed that younger and more liberal individuals — people who did not identify as cisgender men — were more opposed to the use of American Indian mascots in general and more harmed by them.
“Far from trivial, mascots are one of the many ways in which society dehumanizes Native people and silences Native voices,” Fryberg’s study states. “These representations not only shape how non-Natives see Native people, but also how Native people understand themselves and what is possible for their communities.”
Read the full article at the San Bernardino Sun.