My essay is about how Native American’s are represented through graphic design with the design of logos, colors, and team names for American sports teams, and how it is wrong to paint a picture of a people that is not genuine to what the mascot represents.
Title: The Native American Mascot Controversy: A Handbook
Author: C. Richard King
C. Richard King is a professor at Washington State University where he teaches Cultural Anthropology as well as Critical Race Studies. He graduated from the University of Kansas where he earned a B.A. and an M.A. in cultural anthropology. King has written extensively on the topic of Native American struggles in modern America and struggles over “Indianness” in public culture. He has written multiple books on the topic of Native American mascots in American sports, especially about the formerly-named Washington Redskins. This is key since my topic is Racism in Design as in offensive logos of teams such as Washington or the Cleveland Indians.
The Native American Mascot Controversy by C. Richard King gives an overview of how racist and Anti-Indian logos, team names, and mascots have come to be and stuck around for the past 40 years. King links the history of these mascots with the ongoing struggles of Native American activism, as well as challenges the “honor” that the team names and logos of such teams as the Washington Redskins and Cleveland Indians represent with their offensive image. The text includes additional sources on the topic, such as Jay Rosenstein’s 2015 film “In Whose Honor?” which I have since watched and took notes on. King drives home the way these mascots are represented, usually as villainous males clad in comically red skin and are seen as a savage beast that should be beaten by their opponents like the Dallas Cowboys for example. King directs these opinions towards the reader as if he is calling the youth to action to fight against these racist athletic organizations. Overall, the text gave a nice overview of the controversy but did not go into enough detail for my liking. The additional sources that King provides to support his reasonings were one of the most helpful aspects of this book.
King, C. Richard. The Native American Mascot Controversy: a Handbook. Rowman & Littlefield, 2015.
Title: Redskins?: Sports Mascots, Indian Nations, and White Racism
Author: James V. Fenelon
James Fenelon is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Center for Indigenous Peoples Studies at California State University. Fenelon has written on the ethical and racial issues that have come about with how the representation of Native Americans in pop-culture has developed over the years. Fenelon is Lakota/Dakota from Standing Rock (Nation) and has taught internationally to various indigenous peoples about their history and the history of other indigenous peoples.
Fenelon goes into great detail about the Washington Redskins team name, more detail than C. Richard King. Fenelon goes in-depth about the origins of the names of various professional and college sports teams around the country but especially that of the Washington Redskins and the Cleveland Indians. He suggests that the fact that these logos and mascots have been accepted is tied to the fact that most Americans are denying the impact of four centuries of colonial domination and indigenous genocide. In addition to his hot-button writing, Fenelon provides statements and direct quotes from multiple interviews he has done with people about the “Redskins” and “Indians” names. Just like C. Richard King, Fenelon also goes into detail about how a majority of media portray these mascots: as savage opponents that must be defeated. Fenelon suggests that these teams and leagues should actually portray Native Americans as warriors and as symbols of a most-forgotten people. This would go along with my topic well as I feel if sports teams use Native Americans as mascots, the design and execution of their portrayal should be done by an Indigenous designer to provide a tribute to their heritage instead of a racist cartoon figure like Cleveland’s “Chief Wahoo”.
Fenelon, James V. Redskins?: Sports Mascots, Indian Nations and White Racism. Routledge, 2017.
Title: Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy over American Indian Mascots
Author: Carol Spindel
Carol Spindel is a writer and activist from Urbana, Illinois. She has lived, worked for, and written about the lands of the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Peankashaw, Wea, Miami, Mascoutin, Odawa, Sauk, Mesquaki, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Ojibwe, and Chickasaw Nations. She has accepted that she lives on a land that was stolen from innocent people and continues to find and tell the stories of those ancient peoples. Spindel has also taught creative nonfiction to undergraduates at the University of Illinois. She is a longtime ACLU activist and has worked with Native and civil rights organizations to urge schools and universities to retire mascots, logos, and team names based on stereotypes of American Indians.
Spindel goes to great lengths to paint a picture of how Native Americans are perceived and shaped by the average American’s imagination. She writes about how some stereotypes of Native culture were completely fabricated by American cinema and other media, as well as how racist sports logos and team names shape a narrative of the Native American people that damages their true identity. Spindel, in particular, explores her own college, the University of Illinois, and the institution’s odd fixation on Chief Illiniwek, the school’s longtime mascot. She looks into artifacts of the university that paint an even worse picture for Native Americans, such as old football programs, yearbooks, as well as old wild west-style photographs. She interviews various lawyers, linguists, and university alumni on their perception of the U of I’s mascot and what it represents. I found this book to be unique in the fact that it highlights the aspect of college mascots over professional ones, as the college mascot controversies do not make the press as much as the NFL and MLB team names. Spindel shows that in the US, Native Americans are painted as “symbolic servants” and can be a cheap way to represent and “honor” a culture of damaged people.
Spindel, Carol. Dancing at Halftime: Sports and the Controversy Over American Indian Mascots. New York University Press, 2002.
Title: The Demise of Native American Mascots: It’s time to do the right thing
Author: Joyce M Wolburg
Dr. Joyce M. Wolburg is the Associate Dean and a Professor of Strategic Communication at the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University. Wolburg has written on a wide range of topics such as issues associated with the advertising of alcohol and tobacco; public service announcements; risk communication; historical issues in advertising and public relations, and the validity of racial representation in American media. She earned a B.S in Psychology at Old Dominion University, as well as an M.S. and Ph.D. in Communication at the University of Tennessee.
Joyce M. Wolburg’s The Demise of Native American Mascots: It’s time to do the right thing shows the reader the Native American people’s outlook and opinion on the names, logos, and mascots of American sports teams that have been called racist over the past 80 years. This article actually contains essays by Native Americans that try to teach Non-Natives about how these mascots should be perceived by the media and public. Wolburg also examines the meaning of a Native American “warrior” and what it symbolizes for the culture. She directs this article towards the many sports team owners, marketers, and average fans to show what a jersey of a team such as the Washington Redskins truly represents. Wolburg drives home the fact that the Native culture’s voice needs to be heard in a flood of the “American Dream” mindset and how we need to accept the fact that we single-handedly destroyed a people to make the land we stand on “ours”. This article jumped out to me since it includes the viewpoint on the controversy by those who are targeted by these logos and team names, I feel that the voice of Native Americans needs to be heard in my essay, so I hold this article in high regard amongst my long list of sources.
Wolburg, Joyce M. “The Demise of Native American Mascots: It’s Time to Do the Right Thing.” Journal of Consumer Marketing, vol. 23, no. 1, 2006, pp. 4–5., doi:10.1108/07363760610641109.