AS I SEE IT
By Neal A. Shipman
While many fans are going to grumble, professional sports teams across the United States are slowly dropping their team names and/or logos that carry any reference to Native Americans.
The Cleveland Indians retired their Chief Wahoo insignia in 2019, but still haven’t changed their name. And now the Washington Redskins are in the process of changing their name, while the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Golden State Warriors are being pressured to make a change.
We’ve already seen the name change happen at the college level when dozens of colleges changed their names to something less offensive. Even in North Dakota we have seen two colleges change their names in response to public criticism. The first to change was when Dickinson State College dropped its Savages nickname to become the Blue Hawks. And then in 2012, North Dakotans voted overwhelmingly to change the name of the University of North Dakota from the Fighting Sioux to the Fighting Hawks.
The push to change these names, which began in the 1970s, is because they have been determined to be offensive to Native Americans. While the proponents of leaving the names and/or logos alone claim that terms such as Braves or Warriors refer to their positive traits, such as being strong, brave and proud.
Those pushing for the name changes say that such terms are negative and hurtful and show disrespect to the Native Americans.
In this case, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And in today’s social awareness, most of the general public is siding with the Native Americans that it is time for professional and college sports to drop those nicknames and logos.
But perhaps a bigger question is, will high schools across the nation also decide to follow suit and change their names as well. After all, if the Washington Redskins, the Kansas City Chiefs or the Gold State Warriors need to change their names, then so should the hundreds of high schools across the country.
By some accounts, there are at least 897 secondary schools in the United States that use the name of Indians, Warriors, Braves, Chiefs, Redskins, Blackhawks or some other form of Native American name or imagery as part of the high school sports teams.
Obviously, it only makes sense that high schools need to change their mascots and logos that reference Native Americans.
But again, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.
Should public schools that are on Native American reservations, such as Mandaree, drop their Warriors name and logo? Is it any more acceptable for them to use an Indian head as their logo and the name Warrior than any other school or team?
The answer to that question is unfortunately yes.