To most American Indians it is absolutely abhorrent for a professional football team to use the color of their skin as their team mascot. As a matter of fact, we oftentimes refer to the mascot of the Washington professional football team as the R word because to us it is as hideous as the N word is to African Americans. The use of an Indian name in and of itself for mascots is not offensive, but it is what the fans (short for fanatic) do with it that is reprehensible. Native Americans suffer the highest rates of violent crimes committed by people of another race. In schools, Native children suffer bullying when there are misuses of Native culture used in sporting events.When they paint their faces, stick turkey feathers in their hair, and do those awful Hollywood chants, it then starts to become insulting and racist to Native Americans. Imagine if you will a team with a mascot called the Zulus. Would African Americans be offended if the white fans painted their faces black, put Afro wigs on their heads, and waved spears in the air while chanting their perception of African war songs? Why Name teams for the color of a people's skin - "Redskins?" Why not a mascot for the Blackskins, Brownskins or Yellow Skins? At one Washington Redskin football game the fans painted a pig red, put feathers on its head, and ran it around the football field. What if they had painted it black, put an Afro wig on its head, and then chased it around the football field. Would the African American fans consider this an honor? If the sports fans want to honor Native Americans, honor our treaties. You do not honor us by making us mascots for America's fun and games. In fact, just the opposite is true. If the fans of these teams choose to honor these symbols for their sports teams, so be it. But when they take real life American Indians and turn them into cartoon caricatures and then mimic them by painting their faces, donning feathers, and doing the tomahawk chop, they cross that thin line called racism.
Speaker of the House
Office of the Speaker H-232, US Capitol
Washington, DC 20515 (202) 225-0100
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid
Washington DC 528 Hart Senate Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20510
We the undersigned support the following change in American Sports.
Some civil rights agencies report a high correlation between the use of Indian images and civil rights violations.� Research by Stephanie Fryberg proves that Indian team names and mascots negatively effect the self-esteeem of Native children and can contribute to their lack of success in schools that maintain these names and images.
The mainstream media and common ignorance has convinced people that having a Native American mascot for sporting teams is acceptable. We would like the opportunity to educate the public that we, the undersigned, feel that "Indian" Mascots are racist and insulting to Native People and we would like all such racist, degrading material and behavior toward Native people halted within all sports venues.
There are Vikings, Fighting Irish, bison, bulldogs, horses, cowboys, steelers, packers, or boilermakers and so much more. If the fans of these teams choose to honor these symbols for their sports teams, so be it. But when they take real life American Indians and turn them into cartoon caricatures and then mimic them by painting their faces, donning feathers, and doing the tomahawk chop, they cross that thin line called racism.
To most American Indians it is absolutely abhorrent for a professional football team to use the color of their skin as their team mascot. As a matter of fact, we oftentimes refer to the mascot of the Washington professional football team as the N word because to us it is as hideous as the R word is to African Americans. W ask you, how can a supposed civilized nation in the year 2007 still use a racist logo and name like Redskin and feel that it is an honor to Native Americans? What a terrible way to be honored!
When the four minority media organizations, the National Association of Black Journalists, National Association of Hispanic Journalists, National Association of Asian Journalists, and the Native American Journalists Association meet at the UNITY Convention in Chicago in 2008, we pray that the use of American Indians as mascots for American Indians as fun and games is high on the list of subjects they bring to the table.
So far the Indian people of America have fought this battle alone. UNITY should know that racism in any form against any minority is racism that impacts all minorities and makes it much easier for racists to extend their form of racism to other races.
We ask anyone reading this petition, whether you hate what we are writing here or not, just open your mind when you watch the playoffs between the Red Sox and the Indians and ask yourself if the grinning caricature of an American Indian is racist. Replace that face with another racial minority and see how the shoe fits. And if you saw the Washington professional football game where the teams fanatical fans painted a pig red, planted feathers on its head, and chased it around the football field at halftime and were not repelled by it, you wouldnt know racism if it bit you on the behind. American Indians are human beings and not mascots for Americas high schools, colleges or professional sports teams.
The following are additional examples of racism against American Indians in the American Sports Venue.
1.The racist cartoon character of a bucktoothed, red faced, caricature of an Indian logo prominently displayed upon the caps of the Cleveland baseball team. What if that dreadful cartoon character had depicted an African American, a Hispanic American or an Asian American? Would members of these ethnic minorities find this cartoon character to be obnoxious? We think so.
2. One year when UND played its main rival, the North Dakota State Bison, a cartoon image made the rounds of an Indian warrior sexually mounting a buffalo with the appropriate language attached. Another time in the city of Bismarck just before a renewal of this instate rivalry, some fans of North Dakota State were calling their UND rivals "The F---ing Sioux." They used the "F" word to not only insult the fans of UND, but collaterally insulted all Native Americans in the state.
3. If one happened to be in Champaign/Urbana, Illinois before a big sporting event, in order to laud their mascot, Chief Illiniwek, a white boy dressed up in Native attire, one could see images of bleary-eyed, drunken Indians painted on the windows of the downtown bars. On sale in the local markets and drugstores, one could purchase rolls of toilet paper with images of Indians imprinted on every sheet.
4. Before a big football game between the Minnesota Gophers and the University of Illinois Fighting Illini, stuffed Indian dummies could be seen with ropes around their necks hanging from buildings and trees on the Minnesota campus.
5. We cannot end this letter without reiterating the Sunday a few years ago when the fans of the Washington professional football team (We will not use the "R" word here), painted a pig red, placed a feathered bonnet on its head, and then chased it around the football field at halftime. If they had painted a pig black and placed an Afro wig on its head and chased it around the football field at halftime, how many African Americans would have considered that an "honor?"
Any Indian or white that finds the things written above as "honoring"American Indians holds a very different view of what the word "honor" holds for the majority of Native Americans. The Majority of Native Americans in this country consider their race used as mascots for America's fun and games is an insult and racist treatment and we want this changed nationally and across all sports venues in America.