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“Indians vs. ‘Indians’: Matter of Sensitivity”

Seven Generations 2020

“Indians vs. ‘Indians’: Matter of Sensitivity”
Winter 1972
Akwesasne Notes
lithograph on newsprint
22 x 11 in.
Underground Newspaper Collection (MSS 514 BC, box 2), Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

The fight to have schools and sports teams remove racist mascots is not a new one. In 1972, Russell Means—then national director of the American Indian Movement (AIM)—sued Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team. He and other activists were met with backlash from non-Native defenders of these mascots who argued that Native mascots are meant to “honor” Native Americans. The clip at the bottom of this newspaper page has headlines showing some of the racist responses to the suit that were printed in national newspapers.

After decades of fighting to have racist mascots dropped from sports teams—professional, collegiate, and otherwise—the movement against these mascots has gained traction in recent years. In 2018, the Cleveland team agreed to drop the Chief Wahoo logo from its official uniform and stadium. However, independent vendors still sell clothes and souvenirs with the caricature’s image.