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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What's wrong with Indian mascots? They honor Indians... don't they?
A.  "Would you paint your face black, wear an afro wig and prance around the football field trying to imitate your perceptions of black people? Of course not! That would be insulting to Blacks so why is it OK to do it to Indians?"     Tim Giago (Lakota)
    Former Editor In Chief of The Lakota Times and Indian Country Today

Q. Shouldn't we protest the California Angels and New Orleans Saints because they are offensive to Christians?
A. "When you go to one of their games and they are selling toy crucifixes as souvenirs and every time the team scores, the fans wave those crucifixes, and a little mascot dressed as the Pope runs around and sprinkles holy water on all the drunks, then you should start protesting...And us Indians will be right beside you..."
    Clyde Bellecourt (Anishinabe)
    National Director, American Indian Movement

Q.  Aren't there more important issues for Indian people to worry about?
A.  "This is a human rights issue, we are being denied the most basic respect. As long as our people are perceived as cartoon characters or static beings locked in the past, our socio-economic problems will never be seriously addressed. Also, this issue of imagery has a direct correlation with violence against Indian people and the high suicide rate of our youth."
    Michael S. Haney (Seminole)

Q. How does it harm Indian people and their children?
A.  "Native mascots and symbols are all that the kids at school know about my people, and they make fun of me for following traditional ways.  These fake images make me feel sick inside.  They make fun of who I am.  They imitate and mock our sacred feathers, dance and music. We honor our leaders, not use them as entertainment."
    Wayne Crue, 12 years old
    (Shoshone-Bannock )

Q. I know some Indians who think logos are fine and some even sell plastic tomahawks.  Isn't it just a radical minority that is protesting?
A. The following organizations among others, representative of the Native American community in the U.S., have asked that Indian mascots be retired:
KOLA, an international human rights organization based in Belgium and established by Native Americans,
the United Indian Nations,
the American Indian Movement,
the National Congress of American Indians,
the National Indian Education Association,
the Institute of American Indian Arts
and American Indian Cultural Support.
We believe these voices should be heard and that for mainstream culture to disregard them (especially on an issue where their portrayal is at stake) is racist.

Q. What can I do to help?
A. Consult with local tribal leaders and voice your concerns. Contact NCRSM to learn about events and actions. Write the owners and officials of sports teams that use Native American mascots and imagery and let them know how you feel!