Washington Team’s Mascot Change Long Overdue, We Must Eliminate All Racist Portrayals of Indigenous People | NDN Collective

July 13, 2020

Washington Team’s Mascot Change Long Overdue, We Must Eliminate All Racist Portrayals of Indigenous People

The recent announcement of the Washington football team's name change is generations in-the-making, but we still have a long way to go when it comes to the elimination of racist and stereotypical representations of Indigenous people.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 13, 2020

Rapid City, South Dakota— Today, after almost a century of calls from Indigenous people, communities, and human rights activists, the Washington National Football League (NFL) Team has announced that they will be retiring their racist team name and beginning the process of adopting a new name, mascot, and logo. 

“This has been a long time coming and is a direct result of building Indigenous power and demanding change,” said NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen. “Generations of Indigenous people have fought for this change, and today, we remember them. The NFL, their investors and the Washington team wouldn’t just do the right thing initially. They changed because Indigenous people and our allies rallied together, put pressure on them, and demanded that this happen. We also thank the leadership of the Movement for Black Lives and Black Lives Matter for creating the political climate in this country for long overdue changes like this to come to light.”

Indigenous people hold protest signs against racist sports mascots in front of US Bank Stadium
A crowd of Indigenous people round dance after a successful demonstration at US Bank Stadium when the Minnesota Vikings hosted the Washington football team in October 2019. Photo Courtesy of NDN Collective.

As far back as the civil rights era, Indigenous people have been vocal about their opposition to Indian mascots. In 1968, the National Congress of American Indians launched a campaign to address stereotypes of Native people in popular culture and media, and also in sports.  

“Despite generations of being silenced and ignored, Indigenous people are unrelenting in our calls for the dismantling of white supremacy in this country, which includes the elimination of racist team mascots,” says Sarah Sunshine Manning, NDN Collective Director of Communications.  “For too long, Indian mascots have maintained dehumanizing stereotypes about Indigenous people, portraying us as one-dimensional, warring relics of the past. By eliminating racist Indian mascots, space is created for accurate, modern, and multifaceted representations of who we truly are.” 

Indigenous children at the #ChangeTheName rally in Minneapolis when the Vikings hosted the Washington football team in October, 2019. Photo Courtesy of NDN Collective.

The negative impact of these mascots, especially on Indigenous youth, has been well documented by researchers, prompting many leading organizations to join Indigenous activists and leaders in calling for an end to all racist mascots. Currently, the Kansas City NFL team, the Cleveland and Atlanta Major League Baseball teams, and the Chicago National Hockey League team continue to appropriate Native Americans as their names and implicit mascots. More insidiously, hundreds of local public schools across the country still use similar racist mascots. 

“There’s still so much more work to be done when it comes to eliminating stereotypical and diminishing depictions of Indigenous people,” says Willi White, Oglala Lakota filmmaker, photographer, and NDN Collective Creative Producer. “But it’s a powerful time to be Indigenous. These tired misrepresentations and caricatures of us have never been right. They have led to the continued erasure of our stories and voices, whether in film and entertainment or public education. But we’re here to change all that. Today, we’re telling our own stories and creating our own images on our terms.”

###



About NDN Collective: 

Founded in 2018, the NDN Collective’s mission is to build the collective power of Indigenous Peoples, communities, and Nations to exercise our inherent rights to self-determination, while fostering a world that is built on a foundation of justice and equity for all people and the planet. Through organizing, activism, philanthropy, grantmaking, capacity-building and narrative change, we are creating sustainable solutions on Indigenous terms.

MEDIA CONTACTS:

Sarah Sunshine Manning
NDN Collective Director of Communications
sarah@ndncollective.org
(605) 791-3999

Nick Hatcher
nick@megaphonestrategies.com
(919) 802-5663

November 2020 Edition

Stay Informed. Take Action.

Subscribe to the NDN allies newsletter

Sign up to get our newsletter. Delivered once per month.

We care about the protection of your data and would never sell your email or share it with anyone without your permission.

Posted 6 months ago NDN Collective Selects Ten Indigenous Radical Imagination Artists from Across Turtle Island
Over the next year, each selected artist will receive a grant up to $50,000 to support their community embedded project that envisions the future world we are striving towards.
Posted 1 year ago Alcatraz Canoe Journey: Honoring 50 Years of Indigenous Resistance and Persistence

Jade Begay

"If we work to reframe Alcatraz as a symbol for Indigenous sovereignty and reposition it in people’s psyche that way, it could be a very powerful thing, especially for people who are so often forgotten overlooked and marginalized like Natives in America."
Posted 2 days ago NDN Collective, Indigenous Environmental Network, Mark Ruffalo, and Sunrise Movement Respond to Biden Admin’s Decision to not Shut Down Dakota Access Pipeline
“By failing to shut down DAPL, the White House and Army Corps of Engineers are violating their own laws and continuing to erode the human rights of Indigenous people."
Posted 4 days ago NDN Collective to Open Indigenous-Led, Culture-Based School in Rapid City
The school is expected to open in Fall 2022, serve 40 students in the first year, and will be the first Indigenous-led school designed specifically for students in the Rapid City community.
Posted 2 weeks ago Tell President Biden to Shut Down DAPL
The time has come to permanently shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL).
Posted 3 weeks ago BREAKING: Charges Against Nick Tilsen and Land Defenders DROPPED, NDN Collective Celebrates a Victory for the Movement
VICTORY! After months of organizing, charges against Nick Tilsen, NDN Collective President and CEO, and all other Land Defenders arrested on July 3 in the Black Hills will be dropped.
Posted 3 weeks ago NDN Collective Responds to Murders Committed by White Man Against Asian Women
As we collectively work to dismantle white supremacy, we are committed to fighting alongside and demanding protection of our Asian relatives.
Posted 4 weeks ago Tina Kuckkahn Joins NDN Collective as Director of Grantmaking
Tina will manage the full arc of grantmaking within the Foundation, joining a growing team of changemakers and grantmakers.
Posted 1 month ago Indigenous Feminism is our Culture

Jihan Gearon

"Indigenous feminism, like all solutions to problems in Indian Country, is about decolonizing. It's about recognizing, naming, and discarding the worldview forced, reinforced, and enforced by this colonial experiment called the United States of America, and picking up the teachings and practices of our ancestors."
Posted 1 month ago Honoring the Strength of Indigenous Women: NDN Collective Blanket Collab with Eighth Generation
Debuting on International Women’s Day, the “Defend” Blanket features an Indigenous woman at the center, raising her voice in a time when not only are Indigenous voices necessary but women’s voices are critical.
Posted 1 month ago #DEBFORINTERIOR FACTS
As the Secretary of Interior, Deb Haaland is the first Indigenous cabinet Secretary and the second-highest-ranking enrolled Native American to ever serve in the federal government.
Posted 1 month ago What to Expect When You're Expecting #DEBFORINTERIOR

Holly Cook Macarro

Haaland’s nomination has inspired Native and non-Native people across the nation and beyond. While her candidacy looks stronger than ever, it’s important for all of her supporters to not let up until she’s been sworn in.
NDN Collective
317 Main St #1
Rapid City, SD 57701
P: +1 (605) 791-3999
E: info@ndncollective.org
© 2021 NDN Collective. All rights reserved.