Fans have reasons why they like Native Americans representing a team. They see no harm done, and plenty do not see the damage done and think it gives a team a positive outlook. Todd Callais author of “Controversial Mascots: Authority And Racial Hegemony In The Maintenance Of Deviant Symbols,” provides research and theory to why there is still ongoing debate to the Native American, specifically Chief Wahoo, Cleveland’s baseball team’s mascot, and supports his research with various examples. According to Callais, “Over the past 125 years a number of college and professional athletic teams have taken on official or colloquial names for Native American groups to represent their sports teams” (Callais 62). Chief Wahoo, mascot of the Cleveland Indians, has received a lot of negative attention. History of the Indians began with the supposed commemoration of the first Native American baseball player whom played with Cleveland, Louis Sockalexis (Callais 63). To many, this name “in a way designed to be honorable, it is highly unlikely that this suggestion for this reason would win the hearts of many Americans in 1915(Prochaska 2001; Staurowsky 1998, 2001)” (Callais 63). But plenty did not know that Louis Sockalexis had a name change, but what it was not that that got him to fame but “his racial status and the social context at the time (only 20 years removed from the Indian Wars)” (Callais 63). In terms in how the mascot is represented, Steinfeldt analyzes the overall appearance. “Caricatured images use exaggerated facial features that bear little human resemblance, yet these images inundate society with bigoted misrepresentations of the depicted group (King, 2004)” (Steinfeldt 26). The exaggeration of facial features allows people to identify other races in such manner. For example, there are people who associate Asian’s with small, and stretched eyes. Now imagine an Asian caricatured; from the color of their skin to their eyes will be exaggerated, as an observer, that example would be racist. Example of other races allows people to associate the example with their own. Furthermore, Dana Williams, author of “Where’s The Honor? Attitudes Toward The “Fighting Sioux,” similarly approaches this issue with the University of North Dakota’s mascot, the “Fighting Sioux.” Williams applied others research and came to terms to why students depended on their race support their mascot. “White population supporting a Native American nickname—be explained? One of the most common story lines about the nickname offered by White supporters is: “It’s intended as an honor because Native people were brave fighters” (Williams 441). Notice the use of “were,” is this because they are no longer fighters and comply to the societal rules and were pushed away from all freedom forcefully? When students were asked about Chief Wahoo, “Fenelon (1999) studied attitudes of people living in North East Ohio towards the Cleveland Indians[…]over half of the Whites surveyed found the use of Wahoo inoffensive and “either refuse [to acknowledge] or cannot see that Native Americans do” (p. 36)” (Williams 440). The white population of University of North Dakota and elsewhere only sees what they are taught but on the other side of the spectrum lies the Native American population. It further exemplifies how the constant use of Native Americans and their supposed description shows how knowledgable people from various ends of the spectrum are aware. Being brave is not negative, but the history behind why they fought is not acknowledge enough for people to see the negative connotation. Negative characteristics affect the Native American mind and spirit.
Targeting a specific group of people is discrimination, and there is psychological damage. To the Native American population there appears to be a dramatic impact to the issue. It is not only adults who are noticing the underlying issue, but the progressive society is too. Williams again, makes an important point about the damges. “The American Psychological Association (APA, 2005) has determined that “the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by school systems appear to have a negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian children” (p. 1), an impact that may negatively affect life chances. Social–psychological research has demonstrated that Native logos harm Native youth in a variety of ways (Fryberg, 2003). When presented with such imagery, Native youth exhibited decreased self-esteem, lowered self-efficacy, and diminished perception of their potential achievement. Ironically, the use of same imagery increased the self-esteem of White youth” (Williams 439). What more will it take for the rest of society to see the harm this does to our youth and the Native American community? The progressive mind is seeking ways to change, but hardcore sports fans and millionaires see nothing but fun and money. Our society will never a change if this research is not widely presented. As much as minorities will try to change, it will have to take a man or women with a strong hand to allow a cavity for change. It is not fair for the developing Native American child to see their people further struggling for equality in the country that was once theirs, but now have to fight for the discrepancy between the true meaning of being a free American and a slave. Transformation is the key to success in the search for equality. The struggle for change moves into our up and coming generations. As progressive thinkers it is our goal to fight for others whom are considered weak in our society or who need others to help them change. Research has allowed these issues to come about and academically show others the need for change. As a minority, I do see inequalities set forth in this country towards my people, and myself just because of the color of my skin and history. We have basic rights in this country just like any Anglo in the United States. Economical, societal rank, and history should not define a person because those who define people for what they look like only allows ignorance speak through their actions and representations. Callais, King, Perdue, Steinfeldt, and Williams opened minds with their research and I can only agree with their findings. Williams specifically, allowed me to further understand this issue as whole with information from the APA. I my point of view, Native Americans represented as mascots with negative slurs or by tribe names should be eradicated, and their positive history should be acknowledged. Native Americans and observers are slowly changing their oppressors views, and hopefully soon it will reach the intellectual and business mind of an important citizen in this country.
Callais, Todd M. “Controversial Mascots: Authority And Racial Hegemony In The Maintenance Of Deviant Symbols.” Sociological Focus 43.1 (2010): 61-81. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 29 Mar. 2014. King, C. Richard. “Looking Back To A Future End: Reflections On The Symposium On Racist Stereotypes In American Sport At The National Museum Of The American Indian.” American Indian Quarterly 38.2 (2014): 135-142. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2014. Perdue, Theda. “The Legacy Of Indian Removal.” Journal Of Southern History 78.1 (2012): 3-36. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
Steinfeldt, Jesse A., and Matthew Clint Steinfeldt. “Multicultural Training Intervention To Address American Indian Stereotypes.” Counselor Education & Supervision 51.1 (2012): 17-32. Academic Search Complete. Web. 19 Mar. 2014.
Williams, Dana M. “Where’s The Honor? Attitudes Toward The “Fighting Sioux” Nickname And Logo.” Sociology Of Sport Journal 24.4 (2007): 437-456. SocINDEX with Full Text. Web. 29 Apr. 2014.