Why Do People Object to Indian Mascots?


Quick Answer

Many Indian mascots are deemed offensive because they take their name from racist terms for Native Americans or represent caricatures of Native Americans that members of that culture find to be racist as well. Proponents say that the mascots honor Native Americans, but opponents say that the mascots propagate stereotypes.

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Full Answer

One of the more publicly known Native American mascots is Chief Wahoo, a smiling Indian that serves as the symbolic character for Major League Baseball's Cleveland Indians. However, the most controversial Native American mascot, as of 2015, is the Washington Redskin. To Native Americans, the word "redskin" is just as offensive as the N-word is to African Americans. Even the Merriam-Webster dictionary notes that "redskin" is a term that people should avoid using.

Native American activists have filed petitions with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board to cancel the trademark of the Washington Redskins because the name has a racist meaning. The first petition was filed in 1992 and went down in the courts, but the general opinion in American society appears to be shifting more in favor of Native Americans. Even though the stereotype of the Native American has long been ingrained in American culture, sensibilities may be shifting toward getting rid of these mascots altogether.

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