The Kansas City Chiefs and San Francisco 49ers competed for the title of Super Bowl champions this year, and as fans cheered and participated in the teams’ game day traditions, many of them probably did not think about the history of their favorite teams’ name.
In his article about the Super Bowl teams’ names, Matthew Rosza explains how the controversial names not only belittle Native American history, but also the suffering they face today.
The Chiefs’ name is problematic, however, the fans’ rituals, such as the “tomahawk chop,” that occur at Arrowhead Stadium may be even worse. “These mascots reinforce a stereotype and incorrect symbolism that Indians are uncivilized and uneducated,” said Kevin Allis, the CEO of the National Congress of American Indians and a member of the Forest County Potawatomi Community. They negatively affect Native Americans’ self-esteem, especially children and teenagers who may be represented as savage-like by their own high school’s sports teams.
Although most fans probably are not purposely trying to offend anyone, does that make it okay? Or is the fact that they are offending people enough to get rid of Native American representations?
While many Native Americans believe these images and traditions should be banned, others have differing perspectives. A video posted by WGBH News shows a debate between two Native Americans who disagree over a bill that would ban high school teams from using names and logos that refer to the Native American culture.
Gene Weeden, who is against the ban, said he sees it as an honor, and that there are more important things to care about. Conversely, Jason Packineau said people should just not be used as mascots in general.
How do you feel about sports teams’ controversial names? Do you think they should put a ban on “racist” names? Let us know below.