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8 Tasteless Native American Sports References Not Relating to the 'Redskins'

Vincent Schilling

Despite the recent, and not so recent, media attention on the “Redskins” name-change debate, there are other incidents of tasteless sports references that are worth noting. Some of these references are long standing, while others flashed in and out the spotlight.

Regardless of the length of their exposure, the underlying meaning is that Native stereotypes still exist.

Here are eight tasteless sports references that are not related to the Washington NFL team. Some of them may be new to our readers, while the others, of course, are oldies but not-so-good goodies.

The Cleveland Indians Mascot — Chief Wahoo

The fight against the baseball team’s Chief Wahoo by Cleveland protestors has been on going.

Though the Redskins name has a history in relation to Indians skins collected for a bounty, the grotesque and cartoonish image of Chief Wahoo is what Cleveland AIM protestors call “bigoted, racist and shameful.”

SEE RELATED: Standing Up and Staying Put: Four Decades of Protesting the Cleveland Indians’ Chief Wahoo

The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign’s Chief Illiniwek

Beginning in 1926, the University of Urbana-Champaign’s Chief Illiniwek stood as the symbol of the University. During sport events, a student was selected to perform a “Native dance” for the crowd, complete with crossed arms, stoic postures and jumping air splits.

In 2007, the Chief Illiniwek mascot was eliminated because the NCAA deemed it “hostile or abusive" to Native Americans. The student body revolted, and though the mascot was additionally banned by the school, Illiniwek still made unofficial appearances at games.

RELATED  Chief Illiniwek: Beloved by Students, (Still) Banned by the University

The Atlanta Braves and FSU’s Tomahawk Chop

The Florida State Seminoles stopped using “Seminole Sammy” (a former FSU mascot in which a student paraded around in fake Native regalia) back in 1972, but the school retained its Tomahawk chop, which was adopted by the Atlanta Braves in the 1990s.

The Brooklin Redmen

The jury is out on this one, but the name is certainly questionable.

The Brooklin Redmen are a box lacrosse team based in Whitby, Ontario, that play in the Major Series Lacrosse league and compete each September for the coveted Mann Cup. The Redmen are pretty well known, but one is hard-pressed to find any criticism of the team’s name.

The Now Infamous Trail Of Tears Banner

During a football game at McAdory High School in Alabama, a group of unsupervised cheerleaders made a 20 foot tall banner with the following slogan: “Hey Indians, Get Ready to Leave in a Trail of Tears, Round 2.”

After the image was posted on Tumblr, the incident went viral sparking outrage in Indian Country and worldwide. McAdory’s principal, Tom Humphries, issued an apology on the schools website, “Please accept our sincere apologies to the Native American people and to anyone who was offended by the reference to an event that is a stain on our nation’s past forever,” he said.

RELATED High School Slammed for Its Mocking and Shocking ‘Trail of Tears’ Banner

Tennessee Headline: ‘Trojans Scalp Indians’ — Town Mayor Tweets Story

At a Dyersburg, Tennessee, football game, the Dyersburg High School Trojans played the Northside Indians. The State Gazette reported on the story with this headline: “Trojans Scalp Indians, coast to 37-14 second round win.”

The headline was changed to “Trojans Blast Indians…” on the same day it was published, November 17, 2013, and the incident fell on the same weekend as the Trail of Tears banner that was displayed during a McAdory High School game in Alabama.

Despite several calls and emails to the mayor’s office for comment, no phone calls were returned. At press time, however, the tweet had been deleted.

RELATED Tennessee Newspaper Writes ‘Trojans Scalp Indians,' Mayor Tweets Story

Not to be outdone, Bucks Local News in NJ also embraced the term ‘scalped’ with their September headline Sluggish Neshaminy Redskins scalp Souderton Indians.

The Trail of Tears Classic

Since September 1959, the Arkansas State Red Wolves and Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks football teams have battled it out on the playing field as long standing rivals. Since both teams were once known as the Indians, the annual matchup is called the Trail of Tears Classic.

The Port Neches-Groves Indians High School Football Team

When surfing the Port Neches-Groves Indians website, you will find a team that has managed to cover all its bases in terms of Native stereotypes.

The site is complete with cheerleaders in purple headdress called the “Indianettes,” a flamboyant Indian “spirit dancer,” a team seal that’s styled after the Cherokee Nation emblymn, a “scalp ‘em” fight song and a stadium named “The Reservation.”

This is team’s fight song:

Here come the Indians 
Down the trails of victory. 

Winning our conquests 

For PN-G!

(YELL) I-N-D-I-A-N-S, scalp 'em Indians, scalp 'em! 
(YELL) I-N-D-I-A-N-S, scalp 'em Indians, scalp 'em! 


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K's picture
Submitted by K on

There's a Swedish hockey team called the Frölunda Indians. One club thought they'd be clever and have a "Cowboys and Indians" themed match. Lead to many a fan comment about "scalping".

Valena Nhuy's picture
Valena Nhuy
Submitted by Valena Nhuy on

Why does it have to be Native Americans that they have to put in the spotlight? Isn't there anything in this world that they can use for their stupid mascots like Whitedevils!!

Suprstar77's picture
Submitted by Suprstar77 on

In Savannah, MO there is a High School whose mascot is a Native American and they call themselves Savages.