Carter Camp’s Indian Mascot Essay, “Mass Racial Taunting; America’s Weekend Sport”

Carter Camp gave me his permission to repost his essay entitled “Mass Racial Taunting; America’s Weekend Sport” in the comments of “Stereotypical Elements (that) appear… in Athletic Contests” posted at Native American Netroots. I had mentioned that I wanted to cite the Shadow Report as an introduction, so here’s what the Consolidated Indigenous Shadow Report says about Indian Mascots on page 72.

Although the United States would probably respond that racist mascots and logos are an exercise of free speech that it has reserved under the Convention, they reveal the depth and pervasiveness of the racism against Indigenous Peoples so deeply engrained in the history and psyche of the United States and the dominant culture.

And over the break is Carter Camp’s essay entitled “Mass Racial Taunting; America’s Weekend Sport,” which he wrote “several years ago when people in Tulsa were protesting the Union High redskins.”

Crossposted at Native American Netroots


by Carter Camp, Ponca Nation

For thousands of people in America, Friday nights in the fall are for going to the High School football game.  On Saturday, college towns across America swell to double or triple their normal size as fans pour into town to cheer the local college football team.  On Sunday, Sunday evening, and Monday night, millions of Americans gather in stadiums, in bars, and in front of their televisions to see a great communal American pastime, professional football.  But did you ever stop to think that a great percentage of these same all-American people also will spend some of their time hurling racial epithets at my people? Every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (and Monday night) millions of Americans will scream and beg for my Indian people to be scalped, chopped, burned, tomahawked and murdered, by the Indians, Savages, Redskins, and Braves across the field.  In the winter it moves inside for basketball and in the spring back outside for baseball, but every weekend all year around, one of Americas’ favorite things to do is to spend some time ignorantly portraying a stereotypical Indian person or spending a few hours mock-hating and degrading Indian people.  And when we Indians dare mention it is offensive, they argue they should keep on doing it because ‘they have done it for a long time’, longer ago than when they kept slaves or would not let women vote, so long that now it is a tradition! You see, in America even screaming racial epithets can become a cherished tradition that some people are willing to fight a civil war over.*

Not ‘racist’ epithets, the Americans who are screaming to kill, burn, and scalp us, don’t mean us really, they mean those people dressed as caricatures of our ancestors.  And they also do not mean to denigrate our religion because most of them do not even know we have religions and they all assume our culture is dead because they have been taught we were a “vanishing race”, so it must be ok to insult our Grandfathers dress, speech and hair.  They may not be ‘racist’ people but their ‘racial’ barbs are just as harmful to our children.

One of the things Americans like to tell us is not to be so sensitive, it is all done in good fun.  And perhaps it would be funny to us if the very things they scream to be done to the Indian mascot had not actually been done to our Grandfathers by theirs. I am one generation removed from the atrocity of the genocidal “Ponca removal”, my Grandfather and Grandmother survived the Ponca,” trail of tears” forced march to Oklahoma Territory in the late 1800’s, but one third of my Tribe perished.  What is ancient history to most Americans is still fresh in the minds of we Indian people, as close as Hitler’s holocaust is to a Jew and much closer than slavery is to a Black person.  I think it is too soon to ask us not to be sensitive, I still mourn my Grandparents and my people are still not whole.

When all else fails, mascotteers like to tell Indians they are really “honoring” us.  Even those who mean it sincerely must not have considered that there are two sides to every contest and one half of the people in the stadium are in no way seeking to “honor” the “redskins” they are about to “slaughter”.  There can be no way to honor Indian people by using their Tribe or race as team mascots because mascots become a part of the fray and to half of the people attending they are an enemy to be punished, mocked and defeated.  We would like it very much if Americans really did honor us as co-Americans who are worthy of the same respect you give all the other races.  Black, White and Yellow people are exempted from the great American weekend custom of mass racial taunting, is it too much to ask of our fellow citizens that we also receive such an exemption?

* Statistics: There are approximately 3,000 schools using Indian people as mascots. Each has four grades with aprox. 6 teams for each grade. Each team plays aprox. 10 games per year. This makes 720,000 games, and if each game has 500 people (stadiums have many thousands while soccer fields have few, 500 is an arbitrary but real number used to make my point), there are 360,000,000 Americans taking part in a given year. If one-half of them are in the opposition, we have the amazing statistic of 180 MILLION! Americans per year taking part in the Great-American-Weekend-Sport of “Mass Racial Taunting”! (MRT) of Indian people.   The other 180 million Americans think it is not a big thing. Warning: These statistics do not take into account the hundreds of millions of Americans joining the “MRT” of my people, at home, in front of their kids. CC


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  1. I tried to put it on the side after posting but don’t know how.

  2. Atlanta White Robes, or the Kansas City Crackers would not be acceptable?

    I still think the most insulting mascot in this genre is the Cleveland Indian “Brave” who has like 5 distinct stereotypes riddled into it.

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