Kill Mascots, Save the People – Section 35

Alaskan Natives and Native Americans have never been worthy of equal treatment, instead being seeing as less than or inhuman. This dehumanizing treatment has been shown through the interactions Native people had with the government. The degradation of our people grew with the sports industry. To confront racism as a country, we need to acknowledge our history, decolonize, and give Indigenous people a voice.

When colonizers realized the first people would not give up their land, they declared a war of genocide in which each president has partaken in. Abraham Lincoln ordered the largest mass execution in the history of the United States when he had 38 Dakota Nation men hung. Andrew Jackson’s entire presidency was centered around the extermination of Natives, committing inhumane acts such as stripping the skin of people to make horse bridle, scalping, and creating Indian Removal Act of 1830 that made it legal for states to forcefully relocate Indigenous people.  As for today’s president, Donald Trump spent over a million dollars to spread negative propaganda about tribes in Upstate New York so he could gain control over the casino business. The government perpetuates overt racism towards Native Americans, and sports feeds into the degrading of Indigenous people.

It is outstanding a white football team is able to claim they are celebrating a group of people by having a stereotypical logo and clearly racist name.The term redsk*ns is not honorable, it represents the color of dead people when they were skinned by settlers. In 1992, representatives from seven tribes came together to file a complaint to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB) for the derogatory term, but ended up losing the case because there was “a lack of substantial evidence for scandalous matter”. To top off this mess with irony, the NFL released a statement in 2017 saying they would not allow racial slurs in the redsk*ns stadium. One group of people directly fighting this is Change the Mascot, which originated from a campaign started by the National Congress of American Indians in 1968. While progress may not seem to be happening, the numbers say otherwise. The United States originally had 2600 Native American names or images used for teams, a famous example being Stanford University, and since then, 600 teams have changed their name mostly due to political pressures. On their website, Change The Name has ways to contact various people in the NFL to change the offensive name. This is so important when Native communities already face critical problems such as poverty, alcoholism, depression. Studies have shown such use of a racial slurs negatively affects the native community’s well being and academic performance, and contributes to issues like suicide. For non-natives, sometimes this is the only image they are able to see of Native people since actual Native people are rarely, if ever, given such a national platform. Lastly, the sports industries for both college and professional teams–football, baseball, basketball–are making millions of dollars off of degrading mascots while Native communities live with high unemployment rates. Indigenous people need to be acknowledged as we move forward with these issues with both the government and and sports industries

Native Americans and Alaskan Natives have little to no representation in issues that involve them. We are not recognized in American history despite this country being founded on our genocide. We are not given any say when we are wrongfully depicted. These issues can begin being solved by having our history acknowledged, and by giving us a voice in matters that we are involved in. These steps must be taken in order to work towards equality for Indigenous people, and for the United States to make amends for it’s racist infrastructure. Many groups and movements have come from ourselves, but alliance building is going to be key in the success in giving us a voice to both have our history taught and to have stereotypes of us taken down. We need to kill the mascot, and save our people.

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