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Native American Heritage Month: End the Mascots!

Throughout November and into December, Nonotuck will be honoring Native American Heritage Month (NAHM). We will have many opportunities for learning, connecting, reflecting, and celebrating, and will be diving into Native American history and culture as well as many of the issues that Indigenous People face today. We have so much to share with you this month so be sure to keep your eyes open!

Today, we tackle the problem of Native American names and symbols by non-native sports teams.  

Since the first Europeans arrived in North America, native people have suffered from numerous stereotypes, misconceptions, and caricatures. These images undermine tribal, historical, and personal experiences and minimize them into one-dimensional representations.  

These images are especially common in sports mascots. Sports mascots are a symbol of disrespect; they degrade and mock Native people.  They cause psychological harm, especially in Native students who have these types of mascots at their schools. The earlier the stress occurs, and the longer it lasts, the more likely a person will have physical changes and abnormalities in their brain.

Consider this information from the National Indian Council on Aging:

“Native communities experience higher rates of suicide compared to all other racial and ethnic groups in the U.S., with suicide being the eighth leading cause of death for American Indians and Alaska Natives across all ages. For Native youth ages 10 to 24, suicide is the second leading cause of death; and the Native youth suicide rate is 2.5 times higher than the overall national average, making these rates the highest across all ethnic and racial groups.” 

Changes started coming in 2020, following public protests of institutional racism and nationally covered cases of police misconduct. Professional franchises ditched their harmful monikers, including the Washington Football Team (formerly the Redskins) and the Cleveland Guardians (formerly the Indians). In Canada, the Edmonton Eskimos football team became the Elks

There are still opportunities for change. American sports teams such as the National Football League’s Kansas City Chiefs, Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves, and the National Hockey League’s Chicago Black Hawks profit from harmful stereotypes from a time when white superiority and segregation were common.

Please read these articles about the use of Native American names and mascots in sports for more information:


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