What is a controversial mascot? Controversial is defined by the online Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “relating to or causing much discussion, disagreement, or argument” (“Controversial”). What is meant when one says “controversial mascots,” is a mascot that resembles a person, place or thing that is not agreed upon or supported by all people. A major controversial group of mascots that have been talked about for over four decades now are mascots that are Native American based. There are multiple ethical issues that have been brought up over using these mascots. Using Native American objects or even the Native American people as a mascot is a racial issue, and the stereotypical images of the Native Americans affect a child’s self esteem. Using these mascots is also disrespectful of the Native American Indians and their ancestors. I believe that schools should be banned from having mascots that degrade any sort of culture or group of people.
Since the 1970s, this has been seen as offensive to the Native American tribes across the United States. When high schools and colleges in the United States started using mascots, the Native American culture was very apparent. As a result of this we have a pretty predominant amount of schools that were given Native American associated mascots. Examples of schools
that have Native American based mascots are the Florida State Seminoles, Central Michigan Chippewa’s, North Dakota Fighting Sioux, and the University of Illinois Fighting Illi.
The schools that have mascots that are Native American based use Native American faces, weapons, art or even a Native American Indian as their mascot. Mascots that resemble Native Americans can be seen as racist. They degrade the Native American culture by not representing the true Native American tribes. People from other cultures and beliefs have come to believe that these mascots are representative as to who the Native American tribes are and want to be seen as, which is never true. These racist mascots are caricatures of Native Americans and are meant for entertainment for the crowd. They do not depict the actual Native American culture and are presenting a false persona of the Native Americans. Most colleges that have a Native American mascot have a negative image along with the name of a tribe such as The Fight Sioux or The Fighting Illinois. Names like these give off the image of vicious, aggressive tribes; which is not what the current tribes are. These mascots depict what the original settlers thought about the Native Americans when they first came to America, that the Native Americans were savages. These people were thought to be uncivilized and primitive. Yet today we still have mascots that are depicting these Native American tribes as savages. The mascots have red faces and are wearing war paint, and have the headdresses on. This depiction has stayed with many of the American people who have never been taught about Native American culture. If we eliminate these images of “savages” running across the gym screaming with war paint on their face, then the racist issue would not be such a problem. Most white European people do not experience racist comments made towards them like the Native 3
American Indians do. I do think that if we had mascots of screaming white people in old uniform many people would be offended. If someone was to put on a WWII uniform and scream out chants and names during a game people would be offended everywhere. We need to think about what it would be like to be in their position. Most people do not take the time to step back and consider how these Native Americans are feeling, and “walk a mile in their shoes”. While researching this topic I came across a great scenario to maybe help people at Viterbo University understand a little more of how Native Americans feel when we use their culture and history as mascots during sports games. “The crowd roars as the mascot enters the...
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