It seems impossible to imagine that there are human beings in our society who don’t know it’s wrong to wear redface, skewer an effigy of a Native American Indian, or continue to support professional sports mascots that tokenize, demean or dehumanize Native Americans.
And yet…there it is, everywhere you turn. We have chosen not to share the most horrifying images here on The Good Men Project, but we did want to point out an interesting poster, attributed to the National Congress of American Indians, that gives context to how degrading and racist using Native images and iconography for your mascot really is (photo, above).
If you wouldn’t wear a New York Jews or San Francisco Chinamen hat, you shouldn’t encourage sports teams to use Native images, names or iconography.
As Douglas Miles, artist, writer, designer and owner of Apache Skateboards, and collaborator in What Tribe explains, the poster “embarrasses the viewer into realizing the truth about the mascot issue.”
The truth is this: Today, the only ethnic or racial iconography/imagery being used for team mascots in the United States is done at the expense of Native people, and that reality shows the depths to which we have forgotten about the mass genocide that took place on the land we occupy, and how profoundly we dehumanize the cultures of Native people.
I’m not saying not to love the team from your city. But we each have a responsibility to speak out against the abuse and exploitation of Native Americans, and not to promote these images by wearing them, sharing them, or buying them.
If you wouldn’t let this exploitation and dehumanization happen to anybody else—Asian Americans, Jewish Americans, Black Americans—then why are you letting it happen here?
*Author’s note: For a detailed history of campaigns to remove Native American Indian names and iconography from sports teams, visit this fantastic collection of information at NativeVillage.org