The continued use of Native people and imagery as mascots in K-12 sports is
rooted in a long and harmful history. These mascots perpetuate racial stereotypes
and cultural misappropriation, which negatively impacts the identity and
psychological development of Indigenous children.
Furthermore, this form of normalized racism teaches children, at the most impressionable level, that it’s acceptable to participate in culturally abusive behavior—creating a negative learning environment for all children.
For these reasons, in support of Native and Indigenous communities and children, we publicly oppose the use of Native mascots. Thus, we support their removal from non-BIE, preK-12 schools, colleges, universities, and professional sports teams.
"Now is the time to reclaim our history, identity, and stories.”
WaziHanska (Robert Cook)
National Senior Managing Director, Native Alliance, Teach For America
As far back as the 19th century, US policies aimed at outlawing Native American cultural practice, Native Americans could not openly perform a ceremonial dance, dress in ways that honored their heritage, nor practice in the ways of their ancestors but the painted-up invaders – they could prance on sidelines, wear ceremonial clothing like costume essentially mocking the religious rituals of Native nations that the government targeted for genocide.
Often blanketed under sportsmanship and other school activities meant to “bond” the students, these mascots encourage, if not require, racist taunting/bullying and cultural appropriation that inflicts emotional and mental harm on students. This reinforces barriers to inclusive spaces where children should feel the safest: their schools.
Website artwork created by Mer Young (Hildalgo Otomi Mescalero-Chiricahua Apache).
"The collage works are composed of vintage photos and landscapes that are from the Southwest and Land of Native Nations. The intentional use of black and white images with some light opacity use of colors are of native and indigenous peoples. The purpose of these photos is to elevate and uplift native and indigenous peoples, to highlight and retain the original black and white photos that documented the time and culture of those who came before us; in displaying such customs or way of life. The use of floral motifs such as cactuses flower, symbolizes the power of enduring all things, protection and warmth. The flower itself is able to withstand harsh conditions and survive. Other flowers included are the coneflower, which is considered one of the sacred Life Medicines, and desert lavender that is also used as a medicinal herb. As an indigenous and native artist, cultural representation is important to me. Native American “Indian” Mascots are racist, offensive, and have serious negative consequences for the mental health of Native and Indigenous peoples and must end."
Eliminate Racist Mascots is a proud partnership between the National Indian Education Association, Alliance of Indigenous Peoples (Arizona State University), and the Tribal Education Departments National Assembly. The Eliminate Racist Mascots campaign seeks to connect schools with the appropriate resources for starting the conversation with school stakeholders, mascot redesign, rebranding execution & more. Together, we will help change the narrative in pursuit of inclusive and equitable education for all children.