Native American Mascots in the Mass Media

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More Than Just an Image
INTRODUCTION: Human beings physically are the same. We usually all come equipped with body parts that help us to become functioning entities. However what separates human beings from other human beings is our culture. Culture defines who someone is. It’s the food they eat, the music they sing, the religion they practice, the traditions they act on and the style of dance they groove to. Without culture, we would all be bland, boring human beings. Humans hold culture so dear to their hearts that with one act of undermining their culture could set them into a frenzy. Despite this truth, still today there is a whole culture of people being undermined on a national scale; you can tune in on Sunday and Monday night to see it for your own eyes.

“On the verge of the millennium, Indian people are still involved in what Michael Haney has described as the longest undeclared war against the American Indian, here in our own homeland. This war, no longer on battlefields is now being fought in the courtrooms, corporation boardrooms, and classrooms over the appropriation of Native American names, spiritual and cultural symbols by professional sports, Hollywood, schools, and universities” (Teeters). Struggle that Charlene Teeters speaks about in the quote about is this use of Indians as mascots. The role of Native Americans used as mascots for sports teams is an unjust and unethical way to portray them as a people. Many Native Americans and their supporters have rallied up to protest this injustice. It has been estimated that around three thousand of our nation’s high schools alone possess a reference of Native Americans in their school names. However until recently the NCAA made law that community colleges and universities must rid themselves of any Indian affiliations their institution may hold. This has been an huge achievement for the American Indian Movement (AIM) and the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media, unfortunately major league sports still hold their crude Native American associations. The use of Native Americans as mascots weakens their perceptions in society. Not only that, but mascots make a mockery of Native American culture and religion. In this paper I will further discuss these discrepancies.

METHODOLOGY: For my final paper I went about getting sources that I felt presented great arguments to why is it wrong and unjust to have Native Americans as mascots. I decided that quality is better than quantity. My main and favorite source was from D. Stanley Eitzen’s book “Fair and Foul: Beyond the Myths and Paradoxes of Sport”. Within this source I was able to get great points for persons against Native Americans as mascots and great points for persons who believe they are honoring Native Americans when using them as mascots. I believe that have an opposition is important in a paper to give you credibility and not making my paper bias. My other sources came from the reader of ETHS 285: Race, Sports, and Society a class I took last semester. Also took my searching to popular search engine google.com and found articles pertaining to my topic there.

BODY: Due to what could be declared a physical and cultural genocide, the Native American population in America is relatively small. It was estimated that there was around ten million Indians living in America before the landing of Christopher Columbus. The estimates of 2009 total to around 2 million Native Americans living in America today. Because of such a low population, many people believe that Native Americans are no longer (comedian Dave Chappelle expressed this belief in one of his stand-ups) or many people have never been exposed to Native American culture besides that of television and inaccurate textbooks.

Many people see the Hollywood version of Native Americans: wearing a feather headdress, war paint, two long braids, and a head to toe hide outfit. This is a generalized, stereotypical and erroneous perception of...
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