D.L. Chandler

American Indian Group Launches Campaign Against Racist Team Names


The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest and largest organization of its kind, has launched a campaign to call attention to images and nicknames deemed derogatory that are used for sports teams. With the release of a poster depicting offensive sports logo characters of other ethnic groups, the NCAI hopes to  add on to the ongoing national dialogue.

The poster features baseball caps of two mock teams: The New York Jews and The San Francisco Chinamen; the real-life MLB squad Cleveland Indians make up the last team in hammering the point home.

For the New York Jews, a grinning Jewish man in glasses and yarmulke is emblazoned on the front of the hat. For San Francisco, a Chinese man wearing traditional head-wear is featured. Next to the Cleveland mascot, Chief Wahoo, the images clearly depict the insensitive nature of the team mascots and logos. A statement on the poster reads: “No race, creed or religion should endure the ridicule faced by the Native Americans today. Please help us put an end to this mockery and racism by visiting www.ncai.org.”

In the Nation’s Capital, where NCAI is based, the Washington Redskins has been under fire from years by local and national groups demanding a name change from the slur. However, there has been curious support for the team in not changing the name by both the public and billionaire team owner Dan Snyder.

An Associated Press poll conducted in May showed that 79 percent felt the name should not be changed with just 2 percent undecided. The AP also released a national story yesterday suggested that among Native Americans, many have embraced the term “redskin” similarly to how Blacks have adopted the “n-word” as observed by Tommy Yazzie, superintendent of the Red Mesa school district on the Navajo Nation reservation.

From the AP:

“We just don’t think that (name) is an issue,” Yazzie said. “There are more important things like busing our kids to school, the water settlement, the land quality, the air that surrounds us. Those are issues we can take sides on.”

“Society, they think it’s more derogatory because of the recent discussions,” Yazzie said. “In its pure form, a lot of Native American men, you go into the sweat lodge with what you’ve got — your skin. I don’t see it as derogatory.”

The NCAI has yet to release an official statement on its website thus far.

Photo: NCAI


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