Articles

Use of Native American Names in Sports Teams

In Uncategorized on January 27, 2010 by bansal6

There have been several controversies over high school and college sports teams with Native American names and mascots over the years. Even several professional sports teams have been criticized for their names which are largely drawn from Native Americans. Examples include the MLB teams Atlanta Braves, the Cleveland Indians and the Washington Redskins of the NFL. One such debate was over a high school near my hometown of Cincinnati. The high school sports team was known as the Anderson Redskins. Two sides emerged in this debate: the American Indian Movement (AIM) who wanted the name to be abolished and the Save Our Skins (SOS) group, consisting mainly of Anderson residents who wanted to keep the name. Anderson principal, Michael Hall, refused to change the name saying that the term “Redskin” was not a racial slur. He said, “Our school has nothing but respect and admiration for the Redskin. It is not a term of disrespect but a term of respect.” I think he has a good point here. Most of these sports teams do not use names and mascots of Native American origin to offend them. On the contrary, it is used as a symbol to bring an entire community together. The school may not mean to harm the Native American heritage by using such names, but are they in a position to judge what’s right. I mean, many Native Americans then felt the term “Redskin” (used by Dutch bounty hunters on a dead Native American in older times) was rather offensive. An AIM supporter, Linda Hensley (a woman of Navajo descent) said, “If you want to honor American Indians, ask them how they want to be honored.” Coming under pressure from several Native American groups, the school decided to get rid of their mascot. Many American Indians had varying points of view on this issue. For example, Stacey Stahl, a 16-year old of Inca Indian descent wanted the mascot to be reinstated. Edward Simone, an Anderson graduate, who was part Native American, said he was proud to be a Redskin but realized that the mascot caused discomfort among others. So the question arises: What should be done about such names and mascots which are linked to Native Americans? Should they be maintained to keep all the supporters of the team and those faction of Native Americans who feel proud to see their symbol used happy? Or should they be abolished because a different faction of Native Americans feel they are offensive and attack their race?

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