Making the Case for New Names and Logos 2013

Updated: February 14, 2013
BY Gary Norris Gray
The Washington Football Club could be number one on this list of non social reform their team name has the evoked pain  with First Nation/Native American Indians.
Here is the short term definition of the name:
noun Slang: Often Disparaging and Offensive.
A North American Indian.
This is the long American cowboy version of the name:-
For those who do not know, during the days of the old American West, cowboys received rewards for bringing back animals that they had killed. However, they could not bring back the whole animal due to the lack of space.
Therefore hunters and trappers would bring back the fur pelts, skin pelts, or heads.
This practice led to bringing back the scalps of Indians during the Indian Wars to prove the number of kills. Remember head wounds bleed more than any other body wounds thus…., the current name of the Washington Football Club.
In 1932 the Boston Braves Football Club became the Boston “R-word” (Redskins) Football Club because the owner George Preston Marshall did not want his team to be confused with the Boston Braves baseball team.
The team moved to Washington in 1937 with their new name. This organization became the flagship football team of the old Dixie South and harbored some of the Rebel racial attitudes. It was the last team to hire an African American who played half back, flanker, and wide receiver, Bobby Mitchell was traded by the Cleveland Browns to Washington in 1961-62. Mitchell was the first Black executive in the Washington Football Organization in 1969-1970.
Then President John F. Kennedy, the District of Columbia, and the National Football League executive officers threatened to evict the team from Washington Stadium if the club continued its practice of discrimination.
The Washington Football Club cited money as the problem for not changing their name which is very hard to believe.
The Washington Bullets basketball team changed their name to the Washington Wizards in 1995-96.
The National Basketball Association Bullets changed their name after the high murder rate in the District of Columbia that claimed young African American lives. So The Football Club’s issue of money is now null and void especially with the Wizards claim to national fame. Michael Jordan also helped.  The Football Club’s original name was the Boston Braves. All the football teams of the 1920’s and 30’s shared names and logos.
If they changed their name; those who follow the team would invest in new Washington gear the next football season.
Consider this, team names like: The Houston Honkies, The Chicago Chinks, The Nashville Niggers,The Washington Wasps, The Washington State Wetbacks, The Sacramento Savages, The Georgetown Gooks, The Jacksonville Jews,
The Richmond Ragheads…
Does not sound good does it?
Let’s backtrack to the very beginning of this ongoing debate. The battle began at Dartmouth College, now Dartmouth University. Their original name at the time (Indians) and they changed it to “THE BIG GREEN” in 1968-1969, after a long protracted campus demonstration by Native American Indians. Dartmouth students, and school administrators, with the help of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Enabled the change to occurred rather peacefully.
Three years later on the West Coast, the Stanford University (Indians) followed in the footsteps of Dartmouth when they  changed their name to “THE CARDINAL” or “TREE”. The students, administration, and teachers admired the Native American Protest on Alcatraz Island in 1972-74.
This protest on Alcatraz Island reminded us about the sad and destructive situation of Native American citizens. The Native American Indian communities are located outside of most modern American cities. They live on reservations with little or no incentives to move. These communities have the highest drug and alcohol abuse and the lowest job rate in the United States. Education is not a high priority list on the reservations so few graduate and enter college. So the cycle continues.
The following list reflects some of the psychological and physical effects of using negative images of Native American mascots, nicknames, and logos:
1) The misconceived and self-serving concept of having Native American mascots in American houses of learning is dehumanizing and perpetuates inaccurate stereotypes. Native American children are learning that their ancestors were wild and untamed humans. This warlike, violent behavior is often portrayed by most American media. Just watch old black and white cowboy movies. We all know who the heroes are. The American Indians often are the ones that are defeated and shamed.
2) The United States Department of Justice stated that poor people in America are impacted more by violent crimes. Native Americans/First Nations are twice as likely to be a victim of violent crime.
3) Most sports figures or teams have their own rituals, battle cries, even imitating real battles and real wars. It use to be at the beginning of every University of Illinois basketball game, or a Florida State University football game a male dresses in Native American warrior gear and rides out on his trusty horse. The Seminole rider gallops across the football field with a flaming spear in his hand, throwing it into the ground at the 50-yard line, thus signaling the beginning of the game. While in Champagne-Urbana the warrior would dance in the middle of the floor to Native American/First Nations Music. This ritual is done time and time again. This act perpetuates the stereotype of violent savage behavior by the Native Americans/First Nations communities.
4) The cartoon-like characterization of mascots, i.e. Chief  Wahoo of the Cleveland Indians who dons the sleeves and hats of the Midwest baseball team. This mechanism is well known and often used during times of war to dehumanize an enemy. The result allows the entity portraying said stereotypes to further trivialize the concerns of the one being portrayed and simultaneously helps protect self-esteem by relieving guilt feelings.
This was also done to African Americans after the Civil War, in books, songs, and poems, throughout post Civil War America. The examples portray African Americans as nappy headed shiftless, shady, and lazy people, Native Americans are portrayed as wild human beasts screaming into battle and cannot be tamed, Asian Americans as very smart. These are all stereotypes used for mascots, nicknames, and logos.
5) Even the concept of having mascots or nicknames may be, in reality, an ego defense. Thus, the honoring of Native Americans, African Americans, or Asian Americans, could protect one from facing the real facts of past genocidal horrors inflicted on the very individuals they are honoring. The Cleveland Indians and the Washington Football Clubs are classic examples of this behavior.
6) Having Native or African American mascots freezes time in a period one is more conformable with, never wanting to know, or never wanting to see the truth of past historical events. America has continuously run away from historical facts while trying to sugar coat horrendous events. An example was General Armstrong Custer’s last stand in South Dakota. Native American Indians/First Nations defended their dwindling lands in this famous battle. Custer remains a hero today while thousands of American Indians/ First Nations were killed routinely in the flatlands out west just as African Americans are being slain each day in the inner city today.
7) The lack of political power, monetary power, and social power, to demand the removal of these mascots maintain the status quo of institutionalized racism at college campuses and at the professional levels. The Washington Football Club has repeatedly visited our Court system the past 10 years using it to maintain their right to keep their name.
As a Native American-African American watching college sports teams like Florida State University Seminoles, The San Diego State Aztecs, The Chattanooga Moccasins, The University of Utah Utes, and The Central Michigan Chippewas made me proud because they represented one tribe, one nation, unlike the Golden State Warriors, Kansas City Chiefs, Atlanta Braves, Cleveland Indians, and The Washington Football Club who represented a amalgamated non generic group.
The future looked promising with the dismantling of Native American mascots throughout America. The University of North Dakota FIGHTING SIOUX removed their logo from all sports uniforms. UND, hockey team visits the “Frozen Four” college hockey’s final four many times. The Marquette University Warriors in 1972 abandoned the “Willie Wampum” mascot and in the 1994-95 season changed their name to the “Golden Eagles”. The University of Saint John’s “Redmen” also changed their name to “Red Storm” in 1990, dropping their Indian logo and mascot.
 All of these fine universities and colleges are making a good faith effort to respect and honor Native Americans, leaving me to question why the professional teams cannot follow suit?
The Atlanta Braves have made progress dropping most references like the Indian Head logo on their sleeves in 2008-09 and Chief Nok-A-Homa from their program in 1980. Chief Nok-A-Homa would dance after every Atlanta Braves home run, but fans of the Braves still maintain the Tomahawk Chop which no Native American Indian/First Nation ever did.
Again, this is America being insensitive to Native Americans. The Atlanta Braves continue to move forward in 2013 with the public statement that they will not wear the Screaming Indian caps during this spring training. The Golden State Warriors have dropped all references to Native American Indian/ First Nation and have donned the new logo of the new Bay Bridge.
Charlene Teters makes it clear. Cleveland is the home of the most offensive racial icon in the country,” Charlene Teters, an artist and founding board member of the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media, said during a demonstration outside Progressive Field on Opening Day 2010. “Don’t insult my intelligence telling me this honors me . . . It is ‘Little Red Sambo.'”
The Cleveland Indians can keep their history but retire Chief Wahoo forever. The mental thought and attitude by the administrations of these teams have to change in Washington and Cleveland in order for these logos and mascots to be retired.
African Americans, Latino Americans, and Asian Americans should help our Native American/First Nations brothers and sisters in this battle for respect and honor.
The National Football League apparently know that the ‘R’ name is incorrect because they have changed the schedule of the most contentious rivalry in the NFC East. Washington versus Dallas.
They hide the game to either very early or very late in the season.
The Thanksgiving Game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Football Club stopped after the American Indian political movement of the middle 1970’s.
The League can no longer hide this game because the Washington Football Club has improved the last three years.
Here is a novel idea, The Washington Football Club could return to their original name, The Braves if the Atlanta Braves would allow it. This would give incentives for other professional teams to follow Washington’s lead. Like I’ve stated many times before, it’s not the colors, it’s not the logo, actually the logo is very majestic and the Washington Football Club should retain it. But the name has to take a permanent vacation…
Please read about the former sports mascots and help (AISTM) American Indian Sports Team Mascots and The
National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Some of the information in this article comes from both NCAI and AISTM web sites and I would like to thank them for the use of this information.


P.S. The University of North Dakota put their logo back on their sports jersey in 2009-10 after a long legal battle. It is interesting to note that 80% of high schools and 75% of colleges have dropped Native American Indian/First Nation logs and mascots. Maybe the Federal government monies given to them had something to do with the schools and universities relinquishing these names.
The fight continues at Salmon High School, Salmon, Idaho where the mascot was dropped but the name remains in 1999. The Salmon School Board was threatened by the National Coalition on Racism in Sports and the Media with a $100,000 lawsuit if they did not change the school’s mascot, the Savages. Members of the coalition stated that Indian mascots were derogatory especially since the name was Savages. After discussions with the board, the group decided to focus only on changing the mascot.
The school board ultimately chose to get rid of the logo because it would cost more than $100,000 to fight the issue in court.
Yours truly had a week long battle on Facebook with Salmon High School Students and Alum about this very issue. Many Salmon residents still don’t get it. The NCRSM did not go far enough they should have requested a name change as well.
Go to the web site at to know more about the Idaho High School logo and mascot battle
The Washington Football Club will be moving into their new stadium in the coming years and Washington, D.C.’s Mayor Vincent C. Gray (No relation) has stated that there will be more serious discussions about the Football Club’s name before re-entering the city. They currently play in Landover, Maryland in old FedEx Field with no plan to renovate.
The Washington Football Team should lead the way and Do The Right Thing.
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove on Disabled Community Activist. Email at
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