A Fight over Identity: Native American Sports Mascots

By Young, Kelly | Phi Kappa Phi Forum, Fall 2018 | Go to article overview

A Fight over Identity: Native American Sports Mascots


Young, Kelly, Phi Kappa Phi Forum


The best representation of fans' love and deep connection to Indians mascot Chief Wahoo comes from an episode in the 2016 World Series, the first time Cleveland had reached the series since 1997. Outside the stadium before Game 1 in Cleveland, a middle-aged woman approached a group of protesters, placed her hand over her heart "and solemnly professed" her love for Wahoo, a caricature of a Native American with a bright red face, angled eyes, and a wide grin, wearing a head band with a single, erect feather in the back. In a pivotal series for a team, one would expect fans to express such sentiment toward a player or the manager. Bur this kind of emotional attachment to a Native American sports mascot is quite common.

As part of the 1960s Civil Rights movement, activists began challenging the use of Native American names and images in amateur and professional sports. Despite long-time opposition, organizations and sports Ians continue to cling to these monikers and mascots. While there are many issues at stake in these debates, the core concern at play is control over one's identity. Each side of the dispute makes a passionate claim to an identity, which is why these debates are often highly contentious and intractable.

Opponents argue that the names and mascots represent crude stereotypes that simplify and distort understanding of indigenous culture. Additionally, they contend the representations allow Euro-Americans to claim proprietary rights on native images and culture. Activists and scholars say this control over Native American identity produces a host of problems. For example, Erik Stegman and Victoria Phillips found that derogatory sports mascots and names create an "unwelcome and hostile learning environment for [American Indian/Alaska Native] students.... [which] directly results in lower self-esteem and mental health" for those students. Although fans of teams that use these logos might consider these representations as honoring Native American people and traditions, scholars argue they actually celebrate the Euro-American conquerors for taming the frontier and the indigenous population. Thus, mascot opponents say these representations are harmful because they are a product of colonial control over Native American identity. With the conquest of North America, Euro-Americans could fabricate or use parts of indigenous identities and cultures for their own individual and collective identities.

What drives fans of a sports team to declare a personal and passionate love for a Native American sports mascot as if it were a family member or friend? What connection fuels the emotional reaction to objections or criticism of these mascots that makes fans scream at protesters and make obscene gestures?

The most obvious answer is anti-American Indian and colonial racism. However, for many fans, they do not perceive their connection to a sports mascot like Chief Wahoo or names such as the National Football League's Washington Redskins as racist. In what Eduardo BonillaSilva calls "racism without racists," few Euro-American whites think of themselves as racist. …

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

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 ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

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

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

A Fight over Identity: Native American Sports Mascots
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
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?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
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.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, 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." (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

    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.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.