As you walk around the campus at Ball State University you see students wearing different jerseys with different logos on a daily basis. You yourself may even wear jerseys of your favorite sports teams such as the Chicago Cubs, the Blackhawks, or even Indiana’s NBA team the Indiana Pacers. I noticed some logos that were representations of Native Americans. Have you ever stopped to think “hey is this logo offensive?” Well the answer is yes it may be offensive. So before I bought any sports gear that may be offensive to Native Americans I wanted to give an important person a call and ask some questions.This important person is Dr. John N. Low. Dr. Low is an American Indian Studies teacher who teaches at Ohio State University. He received his Ph. D. from the University of Michigan in American Culture. He is a citizen of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians. The majority of the Pokagon population lives in Michigan with six counties, and Indiana with 4 counties. Dr.Low identifies himself as Irish and Pokagon. He also just received an award October 7, 2016 for Diversity.
How do you feel about people wearing Native American Logos for sports teams?
Dr.Low: “Generally I’m offended I don’t like any race based mascot.”
How do you feel about Chicago Blackhawks and their logo?
Dr.Low: It’s complicated but their was no tribe called the Blackhawks. When I see this image I don’t feel mocked by it. It’s a caricature, but not offensive or goofy like Chief Wahoo. The Chicago Blackhawks have actually had a Native American on the team that has played. His name is Jordin Tootoo (Inuk). The Chicago Blackhawks have actually been connecting with the Chicago American Indian Center. They have been contacting them to find out who is chief Black Hawk, and who is the community? There not just ripping us off. Before the Chicago Blackhawks played Tampa Bay Lightning to win the Stanley Cup they honored a veteran named Anthony Foerster of the Pokagon Band of Potawatomi during the National Anthem. I felt that was pretty cool and a real proud moment. It’s not like they are going out before games to do tribal dances. So to answer your question I have no problem with the logo nor am I offended by it.
What sports teams are the worst when it comes to offending Native Americans?
Dr.Low: The worst are the Washington football teams. They have racial slurs for names, and encourage people to dress up in Native American attire which I find very offensive. The Washington Redskins is an offensive mascot, if anyone called me a redskin we would have a problem. Another sports teams I find offensive are Kansas City Chiefs, why are they the chiefs? The Atlanta Braves, why are they the Braves? You wouldn’t have the Atlanta Jews, Italians, or African Americans it wouldn’t fly. The Florida State Seminoles have a Native American riding in on a horse throwing a spear in the endzone. This does not show Native Americans in a good light. Until Native Americans had casinos the only thing they could do to make money in Florida was allow them to display Native Americans in that way. Also people say things like “you don’t see people getting upset with the Minnesota Vikings.” Who are the Vikings? When have the Vikings been oppressed in this country? Even people go out of their way to talk about Notre Dame. Notre Dame has a leprechaun and most Irish people know about it, and don’t have much to say even though there are some that take offense. With Native American mascots they think we’re suppose to look like the mascot and that’s the problem. The Cleveland Indians were on their way to getting a new emblem until the world series started, and everyone started to shy away from the C logo, and started purchasing the Chief Wahoo logo. I don’t know how more racist you could get like Uncle Ben, or Aunt Jemima. Taco Bell got rid of their Mexican Chihuahua. I don’t understand if people are subconsciously or consciously racist.People feel like you’re cutting off their arm when you say stop using it. Were one percent of the population so we just have to suck it up, boycotting it wouldn’t do anything. We need people to protest just like the LA Clippers did against Donald Sterling. We need allies. Racist speech is just racist speech and it’s not in the first amendment. We should not be allowing such things like this to go on in the United States of America.
The most important thing you should take from this article is be respectful of peoples cultures and their race.