Issue of the Issue: Discourse over Hart’s mascot

The use of Indians and Native Americans as mascots has been a practice that schools and sports teams have participated in for many decades. Organizations, such as the NFL, have claimed that they have used such mascots as a way of showing respect and honor towards the people they represent. Many Native peoples have begun to discuss the harm and distress these depictions of them have caused and want to put an end to the use of their culture as something to ridicule.

These Indian mascots have become a normal occurrence in today’s generation and many people do not understand the damage it could do to indigenous folks. People have also started to pretend they are “Indians” or a part of their culture even if they don’t realize they are doing so. 

When having a Native American as your mascot you are, in a sense, pretending to be a part of their culture. Students or teams with an Indian mascot or logo often refer to themselves as “Indians.” An example of this is saying “we are the Hart high School Indians.” This can be compared to dressing up as an Indian which has also been under much scrutiny. These actions can be identified as cultural appropriation or the adoption of elements of one culture or identity to another culture or identity. 

“Low self-esteem, low community worth, increased negative feelings of stress and depression,” said Joaqlin Estus. “These are some of the negative psychological effects Native American mascots wreak on the well-being of Native Americans, especially youth, according to a new study.”

People have started to protest against the use of Indians as a trademark, wanting to stop the inadvertent prejudice that it causes. This past summer, protesters and staff administrators were able to convince the NFL to change the name of a team that was deemed as a racial slur. 

“Following decades of protests by Native Americans, Washington’s NFL team removed its Redskins name last month amid corporate sponsor pressure and the potential loss of billions. The move was significant, provided stern resistance for years from team owner Daniel Synder, who had said he would ‘never’ change the name or logo,” Shannon Ryan from the Chicago Tribune said.  

This event has encouraged Native people that communities and organizations are starting to acknowledge the importance of stopping these harmful depictions of their race. Students and sports teams are also beginning to express their concerns against the mascots that represent them.

People hope that by continuing to protest against the use of Native Americans as mascots, the public’s perspective will start to change. More and more people are starting to recognize the harm and offense American Indians are enduring because of these mascots and are beginning to spread a more widely known message. In the upcoming years, people will most likely start to see many sports teams and schools changing their mascots, and Hart High School might be one of them.