Perpetuating the Wrong Image of Native Americans

By Jackson, E. Newton, Jr.; Lyons, Robert | JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance, April 1997 | Go to article overview

Perpetuating the Wrong Image of Native Americans


Jackson, E. Newton, Jr., Lyons, Robert, JOPERD--The Journal of Physical Education, Recreation & Dance


Sports, the great American pastime, play a unifying role in the community. Most sports teams, at all playing levels, have a mascot that creates an identifiable and common supporter relationship between an organization and members of a community.

One of the common mascots used by sports teams on all competitive levels is a stereotyped representation of Native Americans. During the early years of this decade, extensive, national media coverage of Native American mascots and team names alerted the American public to a serious moral, national issue (Davis, 1993). Coakley (1990) stated:

Chief Wahoo, the mascot used by the Cleveland Indians baseball team is nothing but a disrespectful caricature of Native Americans. Hundreds of high school and colleges use similar caricatures as a basis for their future names and mascots, and in doing so they perpetuate the stereotypes that have contributed to the unemployment, alcoholism, and dependency of many native peoples (p. 206).

The use of Native American mascots in American sports offends many Native American people; largely because the majority of the mascots demean and misrepresent Native American heritage and culture. Native American reporter Tom Giago (1991) requested that the sport industry, "stop insulting the spirituality and the traditional beliefs of the Indian people by making us mascots for the athletic teams. Is that asking too much of America?"

Should the practice of degrading and humiliating Native American people continue today in the arena of sports? This nation has become "home" for people worldwide who seek equality. It is ironic that the indigenous people on this continent are denied that equality.

Since the early 1900s, Indian names and caricatures have appeared as team logos for many of America's sports teams. The fact that these caricatures have lasted for so long is a testament to the long-lasting effects of overt racism. Names such as "Washington Redskins," "Chief Wahoo," and the Atlanta Braves' "Chief Noc-a-homa" (the name is meant to read "Knock a Homer") have been criticized by Native Americans. Dennis Banks, a member of the American Indian Movement, exclaimed:

Why do these people continue to make mockery of our culture? We Indian people never looked the way these caricatures portray our culture. Nor have we ever made mockery of the white people. So then why do they do this to us? It is painful to see a mockery of our ways (1993, p. 5).

However, thanks to the efforts of groups like the American Indian Movement, the National Congress of American Indians, and the National Rainbow Coalition's Commission for Fairness in Athletics, progress is being made in eradicating the demeaning names and caricatures.

Yet, a majority of game spectators hold one of two perspectives: (1) the team name and the ethnic mascot does not matter to them and they are completely unconcerned and (2) they are vocally outraged that Native Americans and their supporters could consider altering such an old tradition.

The media has helped to perpetuate stereotypes of Native Americans (Eager, 1980, p. 4). "The struggle to change attitudes and stereotypes about Native Americans has made it essential for Indians to participate in media, determining how Indian concerns and realities are presented." (Baird, 1980, p. 9).

Pressure from Native American organizations and sectors of the American public have caused some higher education institutions to drop their sports teams' Indian names and offensive logos. The athletics board at The University of Iowa has joined its counterparts at two other Big Ten Conference institutions. They have banned from athletics events mascots that depict American Indians. St. John's University in New York City announced its team name would no longer be the "Redmen," but rather the "Red Storm." As the controversies concerning traditions and mascots increase, more campuses are concluding that American Indian mascots are offensive.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Perpetuating the Wrong Image of Native Americans
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.