The National Congress of American Indians is running an ad against the use of “Indian” sports brands – especially the one used by the Washington DC football team.
The Episcopal Church has opposed these practices since 1997:
Resolved, That the Episcopal Church assert the need for special attention to the continuing widespread exploitation, misuse and abuse of the cultures, symbols, identities, personalities and spirituality of individuals, tribes and nations indigenous to the Western Hemisphere, by some popular sports franchises, members of the beverage, advertising, retail, and automotive industries, and others; and be it further
Resolved, That, in response, the Episcopal Church will join and [sic] lead in initiatives against such practices, through verbal persuasion and negotiation where potentially effective, but also through public economic boycotts of offending enterprises, their products and their stock and, in appropriate circumstances, support of legislation;…
“Indian” sports brands used by professional teams were born in an era when racism and bigotry were accepted by the dominant culture. These brands which have grown to become multi-million dollar franchises were established at a time when the practice of using racial epithets and slurs as marketing slogans were a common practice among white owners seeking to capitalize on cultural superiority and racial tensions.
Over the last fifty years a ground swell of support has mounted to bring an end to the era of racist and harmful “Indian” mascots in sports and popular culture. Today, that support is stronger than ever. Rooted in the civil rights movement, the quest for racial equality among American Indian and Alaska Native people began well before the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) established a campaign in 1968 to bring an end to negative and harmful stereotypes in the media and popular culture. While these advances have been positive, equality still remains elusive in everyday life for Native peoples.
Native peoples remain more likely than any other race to experience crimes at the hands of a person from another race. Native youth experience the highest rates of suicide among young people. With studies showing that negative stereotypes and harmful “Indian” sports mascots are known to play a role in exacerbating racial inequity and perpetuating feelings of inadequacy among Native youth, it is vital that all institutions—including professional sports franchises—re-evaluate their role in capitalizing on these stereotypes.