Transition & Resilience grants Click here

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@staging.ndncollective.org
(605) 791-3999

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

July 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 11 months 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 months ago NDN Collective Responds to Brutal K9 Attack on Native Man in Rapid City
NDN Collective calls out excessive use of force by South Dakota Highway Patrol with K9 unit deployed on Native man and overall systemic violence against Indigenous people at the hands of law enforcement.
Posted 2 months ago “Today we mourn, tomorrow we fight”: NDN Collective Honors the Legacy of John Lewis
NDN Collective honors civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis and calls for honoring his legacy with renewed commitments to fight injustice
Posted 2 months ago Nick Tilsen Statement Upon Release from Arrest: "We have to act in courage and in bravery."
NDN Collective President and CEO Nick Tilsen was among 20 Land Defenders arrested while protesting Trump's visit to Mount Rushmore. After being detained for three days, he shared this statement.
Posted 2 months ago Indigenous Land Defenders Released from Jail After Mt. Rushmore Trump Visit, Prosecutor Launches Campaign of Charges Against Them
Nick Tilsen, Oglala Lakota and NDN Collective’s President and CEO, faces excessive charges for leading protest to protect Black Hills and close Mount Rushmore
Posted 3 months ago NDN Collective Announces Black Hills Bail and Legal Defense Fund Following Mt. Rushmore Arrests
Following arrests of Indigenous Land Defenders blocking the road to Mount Rushmore on Friday, July 3, NDN Collective announces a bail and legal defense fund.
Posted 3 months ago NDN Collective Calls for Closure of Mount Rushmore and for the Black Hills to be Returned to the Lakota
In the lead up to President Donald Trump's visit to Lakota lands, NDN Collective calls for the closure of Mount Rushmore as a national monument.
Posted 3 months ago NDN Collective Announces the Radical Imagination Grant for Six Indigenous Artists
The NDN Collective Radical Imagination Grant will provide six Indigenous artists in the United States or U.S. Territories with $50k to radically imagine a new future, a better normal, and a more just world for all people and the planet.
Posted 3 months ago NDN Collective on Honoring Juneteenth: a Time for Action and Collective Liberation
In honor of Juneteenth, NDN Collective calls upon relatives and allies to take action and make personal commitments to unlearning the untruths of American history while learning the real truths of our past and present.
Posted 4 months ago Joint Statement: NDN Collective, IllumiNative, and Native Organizers Alliance call for justice for George Floyd
Indigenous organizations NDN Collective, IllumiNative, and Native Organizers Alliance call for justice for #GeorgeFloyd and an end to systemic racism
Posted 4 months ago Biden to stop KXL pipeline if elected- VOTE! and hold him to his word
NDN Collective calls for mass mobilization with voting in response to Joe Biden's announcement that he would stop the KXL pipeline if elected.
NDN Collective
317 Main St #1
Rapid City, SD 57701
P: +1 (605) 791-3999
E: info@ndncollective.org
© 2020 NDN Collective. All rights reserved.