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Discussion at the American Indian Museum: Time to Put Racist Mascots to Bed

The panel talk on the controversial practice spilled over in the Twittersphere as people talked about the history of racist mascots and what can be done

Illustration by Aaron Sechrist

There was a lot of Twitter activity today covering the American Indian Museum‘s panel on the controversial use of Indian imagery and names in sports leagues, from football’s D.C. Redskins to baseball’s Cleveland Indians. Museum director Kevin Gover says the practice dates back decades but that it’s time to put an end to it. With some notable successes already achieved, the call to remove and replace the offensive names and mascots seems to be picking up speed and Gover predicts the mascots will be put to bed within the next couple of decades. The panel broke into three sections: mascot origin myths, case studies from around the country and D.C.’s own NFL team.

Take a look at some of the responses on Twitter where people wondered why the tradition persists and what can be done to change it:

Full list of panel participants:
  • Manley A. Begay Jr. (Navajo), moderator, associate social scientist/senior lecturer, American Indian Studies Program, University of Arizona, and co-director, Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
  • Lee Hester, associate professor and director of American Indian Studies and director of the Meredith Indigenous Humanities Center, The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma
  • E. Newton Jackson, associate provost and professor of Sports Management, University of North Florida
  • N. Bruce Duthu (United Houma Nation of Louisiana), chair and professor, Native American Studies, Dartmouth College
  • Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/ Hodulgee Muscogee), moderator. President, Morning Star Institute and past executive director, National Congress of American Indians, and a founding trustee of the National Museum of the American Indian
  • C. Richard King, co-editor, Team Spirits, Native Athletes in Sport and Society, and Encyclopedia of Native Americans in Sports, and professor and chair of the Department of Critical Gender and Race Studies, Washington State University
  • Ben Nighthorse Campbell, Council of Chiefs, Northern Cheyenne Tribe; President, Nighthorse Consultants; Trustee, National Museum of the American Indian; Award-winning Artist/Jeweler, U.S. Representative of Colorado (1987-1993); and U.S. Senator of Colorado (1992-2005)
  • Delise O’Meally, director of Governance and International Affairs, NCAA
  • Lois J. Risling (Hoopa/Yurok/Karuk), educator and land specialist for the Hoopa Valley Tribes, and retired director, Center for Indian Community Development, Humboldt State University
  • Ellen Staurowsky, professor, Department of Sports Management, Goodwin School of Professional Studies, Drexel University
  • Linda M. Waggoner, author, Fire Light: The Life of Angel De Cora, Winnebago Artist; and “Playing Indian, Dreaming Indian: The Trial of William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz” (Montana: The History Magazine, Spring 2013), and lecturer, Multicultural Studies, Sonoma State University

 

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About Leah Binkovitz
Leah Binkovitz

Leah Binkovitz is a Stone & Holt Weeks Fellow at Washington Post and NPR. Previously, she was a contributing writer and editorial intern for the At the Smithsonian section of Smithsonian magazine.

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