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The Use of American Indians as Mascots Essay

How would you feel if someone dressed exactly like you, or a person that you honor and respect, danced and jumped around a gym or stadium during sports games using symbols that represent you and/or your culture? Sadly, many colleges and high schools do this. They choose Indigenous people’s symbols, dances and music to make their team’s mascot look exactly like a chief. Many people think that using American Indians as mascots honors the Indian people, but the truth is they feel insulted and segregated. There have been many requests to change this, not only by Indian people but by regular people from other cultures too, and still these sports teams used them as mascots. High schools and colleges shouldn’t keep their American Indian name or their symbols.

Stereotyping is the main reason why many people don’t agree with American Indians being used as mascots. Racism and segregation had been a big part of this country’s history and it still is. The dances, music, symbols, and even people that make part of the mascots show disrespect for the Indians. It seems like the schools show disrespect for the Indians too, because the majority of the players don’t even know the meaning of the symbols of the images that are on their team’s uniforms. It’s also hurtful for the Indians to see a chief as half time entertainment. If you go to a school’s football game and see the ‘Indians’ play, they do it roughly and with a lot of violence. This influences people to think that the chiefs and Indians are savages and that they are always fighting and being rough. Throughout the years it has been said that all humans, no matter what race, religion, culture, or color, should be treated equally, so how come for the Indians it’s a different story?

Secondly, another reason why Native Americans shouldn’t be used as mascots is because of economic reasons. Why should any group of people gain money off of somebody’s culture? That’s mean and unnecessary and that’s one reason why a lot people want to keep the mascots. Some schools sell shirts with a Chief’s head on it and make money off of this. If a real Indian came to any of these schools and saw a whole bunch of kids and teachers with the face of his “God” on it, of course he would feel angry because the people who are wearing it don’t know the importance of that person on that shirt and have no respect for them either. If these schools want to make shirts to sell them to the students to gain money for the school, then they shouldn’t have anything that symbolizes an Indian on it. The players and students could help by thinking of their own mascot and they could do something different from all the other schools.

The last reason why I also think high schools and colleges should change its name is an educational reason. Most students have a wrong and/or bad interpretation of what a Native American is, but it’s not their fault. Perhaps, it’s because the Indians have been interpreted in a wrong way. When you hear one of these team’s names, you might think of powerful and strong people, Indians are powerful, but you also think of savage and violent people because of how the game is played. That’s why first you should be well educated so you could learn to appreciate other cultures. When they asked me if I thought that high schools’ and colleges’ names and symbols should be changed, I said no. Now, that I have learned about how Indians feel, done research and been educated, my opinion changed to a yes. This proves how when you educate yourself and don’t worry about what anyone thinks, you could actually have plenty of reasons to back up and defend your own ideas and reasons.

Using the Indians as mascots may make the players, coaches and even students feel like their team is powerful and strong, however, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the team is strong and that it would be a winning team all the time. The sports teams might not even need an image of an Indian in order to make the team strong and winning. It’s all by how much effort you make during the game and it depends on the amount of motivation you have about the sport and how much you practice. There are a lot of teams that have regular name and images and they are still winning teams. I will also admit that some school and colleges have had their mascots for years and it turned into a tradition, but now things have gotten worse.

There’s a tremendous amount of people who feel insulted and hurt. Everyone has the right to feel comfortable and welcomed, so schools should be able to change their name to something more proper and respectful and that makes them feel comfortable too. Dr. Gregory, a professor in the University of Illinois, states; “It’s not a matter of people trying to be intentionally mean, but if something is disturbing to a minority of the population, it’s not for the majority to decide whether it is or is not disturbing.”

High schools and colleges shouldn’t keep their name and symbols such as the feather and the chief’s face. American Indians should be treated equally with respect. The race, color, or culture shouldn’t matter, but what should matter are their feelings. Many of these American Indians came to America looking for freedom and all they’ve found is racism. We should all educate ourselves and then we would be free to judge any culture because we would have something smart to say. We should change and make a difference now before anybody else gets hurt or any other race is affected by racism too. “Everyone understands that if the voices of American Indians are being disregarded today, tomorrow, it will be other people of color.” — Paula Ostrovsk, student at University of Illinois.

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