8 Tasteless Native American Sports References Not Relating to the ‘Redskins’

Thom Sheridan via Flickr.com

8 Tasteless Native American Sports References Not Relating to the ‘Redskins’

Despite the recent, and not so recent, media attention on the “Redskins” name-change debate, there are other incidents of tasteless sports references that are worth noting. Some of these references are long standing, while others flashed in and out the spotlight.

Regardless of the length of their exposure, the underlying meaning is that Native stereotypes still exist.

Here are eight tasteless sports references that are not related to the Washington NFL team. Some of them may be new to our readers, while the others, of course, are oldies but not-so-good goodies.

The Cleveland Indians Mascot — Chief Wahoo

The fight against the baseball team’s Chief Wahoo by Cleveland protestors has been on going.

Though the Redskins name has a history in relation to Indians skins collected for a bounty, the grotesque and cartoonish image of Chief Wahoo is what Cleveland AIM protestors call “bigoted, racist and shameful.”

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Chief Illiniwek

Beginning in 1926, the University of Urbana-Champaign’s Chief Illiniwek stood as the symbol of the University. During sport events, a student was selected to perform a “Native dance” for the crowd, complete with crossed arms, stoic postures and jumping air splits.

In 2007, the Chief Illiniwek mascot was eliminated because the NCAA deemed it “hostile or abusive" to Native Americans. The student body revolted, and though the mascot was additionally banned by the school, Illiniwek still made unofficial appearances at games.

Associated Press Chief Illiniwek

The Atlanta Braves and FSU’s Tomahawk Chop

The Florida State Seminoles stopped using “Seminole Sammy” (a former FSU mascot in which a student paraded around in fake Native regalia) back in 1972, but the school retained its Tomahawk chop, which was adopted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s.

Associated Press The Braves tomahawk chop

The Brooklin Redmen

The jury is out on this one, but the name is certainly questionable.

The Brooklin Redmen are a box lacrosse team based in Whitby, Ontario, that play in the Major Series Lacrosse league and compete each September for the coveted Mann Cup. The Redmen are pretty well known, but one is hard-pressed to find any criticism of the team’s name.

BrooklinRedmen.CA The Brooklin Redman compete in the Major Series Lacrosse league in Ontario, Canada.

The Now Infamous Trail Of Tears Banner

During a football game at McAdory High School in Alabama, a group of unsupervised cheerleaders made a 20 foot tall banner with the following slogan: “Hey Indians, Get Ready to Leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2.”

After the image was posted on Tumblr, the incident went viral sparking outrage in Indian Country and worldwide. McAdory’s principal, Tom Humphries, issued an apology on the schools website, “Please accept our sincere apologies to the Native American people and to anyone who was offended by the reference to an event that is a stain on our nation’s past forever,” he said.

This banner was displayed during a football game at McAdroy High School. The school has apologized for their mistake.

Tennessee Headline: ‘Trojans Scalp Indians’ — Town Mayor Tweets Story

At a Dyersburg, Tennessee, football game, the Dyersburg High School Trojans played the Northside Indians. The State Gazette reported on the story with this headline: “Trojans Scalp Indians, coast to 37-14 second round win.”

The headline was changed to “Trojans Blast Indians…” on the same day it was published, November 17, 2013, and the incident fell on the same weekend as the Trail of Tears banner that was displayed during a McAdory High School game in Alabama.

Despite several calls and emails to the mayor’s office for comment, no phone calls were returned. At press time, however, the tweet had been deleted.

Not to be outdone, Bucks Local News in NJ also embraced the term ‘scalped’ with their September headline Sluggish Neshaminy Redskins scalp Souderton Indians.

The Port Neches-Groves Indians High School Football Team

When surfing the Port Neches-Groves Indians website, you will find a team that has managed to cover all its bases in terms of Native stereotypes.

The site is complete with cheerleaders in purple headdress called the “Indianettes,” a flamboyant Indian “spirit dancer,” a team seal that’s styled after the Cherokee Nation emblymn, a “scalp ‘em” fight song and a stadium named “The Reservation.”

Advanced-JournalismYearbook-I-3.png Port Neches-Groves Indians mascot

This is team’s fight song:

Here come the Indians
Down the trails of victory.

Winning our conquests

For PN-G!

(YELL) I-N-D-I-A-N-S, scalp 'em Indians, scalp 'em!
(YELL) I-N-D-I-A-N-S, scalp 'em Indians, scalp 'em!

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