Team Spirits: The Native American Mascots Controversy

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Overview


A growing controversy in recent years has arisen around the use and abuse of Native American team mascots. The Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Florida State Seminoles, and so forth—these are just a few of the images and names popularly associated with Native Americans that are still used as mascots by professional sports teams, dozens of universities, and countless high schools. This practice, a troubling legacy of Native–Euro-American relations in the United States, has sparked heated debates and intense protests that continue to escalate.
 
Team Spirits is the first comprehensive look at the Native American mascots controversy. In this work activists and academics explore the origins of Native American mascots, the messages they convey, and the reasons for their persistence into the twenty-first century. The essays examine hotly contested uses of mascots, including the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, and the University of Illinois's Chief Illiniwek, as well as equally problematic but more complicated examples such as the Florida State Seminoles and the multitude of Native mascots at Marquette University. Also showcased are examples of successful opposition, including an end to Native American mascots at Springfield College and in Los Angeles public schools.
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Editorial Reviews

Choice

“Each of the essays provides a different perspective, but all agree that the use of Indians as mascots is demeaning, patronizing, and a paradigm of Indian-white power relationships. . . . Separate articles by King and Springwood treat perceptively those Indians who support mascots, and are alone worth the price of the book. . . . One need look no farther for information on why and how Indian mascots exist and ought to disappear into oblivion.”—Choice
Chicago Sun-Times

“Every time I watch the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians (with their grotesque Chief Wahoo) I wonder what it must feel like to be a Native American sports fan and see oneself depicted this way. It just plain gives me the willies. Team Spirits shows me why.”—Rick Telander, sports columnist, Chicago Sun-Times

— Rick Telander

The Santa Fe New Mexican

"This is an excellent collection of different viewpoints that challenge readers to reconsider how the selective perceptions of majority groups can persist in keeping down ethnic minorities."—Sunamita Lim, The Santa Fe New Mexican

— Sunamita Lim

Aethlon

"A valuable and important volume. . . . Each offering is methodical, careful in its argument, fulsome in its data-work, and above all, careful to avoid succumbing to the almost inevitable polemics such issues appear to raise."—Aethlon
American Studies

“The greatest contribution Team Spirits offers to the literature on mascots is the excellent histories . . . on the origin of particular mascots and efforts taken to change or eliminate them. For in these histories—and in the defense mascot supporters proffer when challenged—lies the potential for understanding why people concoct mascots in the first place and why they grow so fond of keeping them in the face of opposition. . . . Team Spirits should appeal not only to scholars but to activists in mascot disputes around the country.”—David P. Rider, American Studies

— David P. Rider

Anthropology and Education Quarterly

“An invaluable collection of essays that thoroughly examine the American legacy of Native American mascots. Team Spirits fills an important social, political, and intellectual void in American Indian Studies literature, and serves as the first comprehensive examination of the growing mascots controversy.”—Joseph A. Martin, Anthropology and Education Quarterly

— Joseph A. Martin

Indigenous Nations Studies Journal

“C. Richard King and Charles Fruehling Springwood have collected fourteen critical essays, with a foreword by Vine Deloria Jr., which examine this matter from a variety of perspectives and provide some well needed historical and sociological context for the debate.”—Indigenous Nations Studies Journal
Chicago Sun-Times - Rick Telander

“Every time I watch the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians (with their grotesque Chief Wahoo) I wonder what it must feel like to be a Native American sports fan and see oneself depicted this way. It just plain gives me the willies. Team Spirits shows me why.”—Rick Telander, sports columnist, Chicago Sun-Times
The Santa Fe New Mexican - Sunamita Lim

"This is an excellent collection of different viewpoints that challenge readers to reconsider how the selective perceptions of majority groups can persist in keeping down ethnic minorities."—Sunamita Lim, The Santa Fe New Mexican
American Studies - David P. Rider

“The greatest contribution Team Spirits offers to the literature on mascots is the excellent histories . . . on the origin of particular mascots and efforts taken to change or eliminate them. For in these histories—and in the defense mascot supporters proffer when challenged—lies the potential for understanding why people concoct mascots in the first place and why they grow so fond of keeping them in the face of opposition. . . . Team Spirits should appeal not only to scholars but to activists in mascot disputes around the country.”—David P. Rider, American Studies
Anthropology and Education Quarterly - Joseph A. Martin

“An invaluable collection of essays that thoroughly examine the American legacy of Native American mascots. Team Spirits fills an important social, political, and intellectual void in American Indian Studies literature, and serves as the first comprehensive examination of the growing mascots controversy.”—Joseph A. Martin, Anthropology and Education Quarterly
Choice

“Each of the essays provides a different perspective, but all agree that the use of Indians as mascots is demeaning, patronizing, and a paradigm of Indian-white power relationships. . . . Separate articles by King and Springwood treat perceptively those Indians who support mascots, and are alone worth the price of the book. . . . One need look no farther for information on why and how Indian mascots exist and ought to disappear into oblivion.”—Choice
KLIATT
This scholarly and complicated book of critical essays brings much information to the controversy about the use and abuse of Native American mascots for sport teams. Its essays deal with the origin of this practice; the cultural implications; the individual mascots of teams such as the Cleveland Indians and the Washington Redskins; and finally, some examples of successful oppositions to the mascots. The book is full of information on this subject, but unless readers have a special interest in the topic, they may find it hard going. Public libraries should have a copy of this but school libraries with limited funds should probably pass. KLIATT Codes: A—Recommended for advanced students, and adults. 2001, Univ. of Nebraska/Bison Books, 356p, index, 22cm, 00-059968, $24.95. Ages 17 to adult. Reviewer: Barbara Jo McKee; Libn/Media Dir. Streetsboro H.S. Stow, OH, May 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 3)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780803277984
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • Publication date: 2/1/2001
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 356
  • Sales rank: 493,047
  • Product dimensions: 0.78 (w) x 5.50 (h) x 8.50 (d)

Meet the Author


C. Richard King is an assistant professor of anthropology at Drake University, and Charles Fruehling Springwood is an assistant professor of anthropology at Illinois Wesleyan University. King and Springwood are coauthors of Beyond the Cheers: Race As Spectacle in College Sport.
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Table of Contents

Foreword
Acknowledgments
Introduction: Imagined Indians, Social Identities, and Activism 1
Pt. 1 Inventions
1 Chief Bill Orange and the Saltine Warrior: A Cultural History of Indian Symbols and Imagery at Syracuse University 25
2 Becoming the Indians: Fashioning Arkansas State University's Indians 46
3 Wennebojo Meets the Mascot: A Trickster's View of the Central Michigan University Mascot/Logo 64
4 Sockalexis and the Making of the Myth at the Core of Cleveland's "Indian" Image 82
Pt. 2 Whiteness
5 The Fighting Braves of Michigamua: Adopting the Visage of American Indian Warriors in the Halls of Academia 109
6 The Best Offense ... Dissociation, Desire, and the Defense of the Florida State University Seminoles 129
7 At Home in Illinois: Presence of Chief Illiniwek, Absence of Native Americans 157
Pt. 3 Activism
8 Fighting Name-Calling: Challenging "Redskins" in Court 189
9 Last of the Mohicans, Braves, and Warriors: The End of American Indian Mascots in Los Angeles Public Schools 208
10 Escaping the Tyranny of the Majority: A Case Study of Mascot Change 221
Pt. 4 Interventions
11 In Whose Honor?, Mascots, and the Media 241
12 Educators and Mascots: Challenging Contradictions 257
Pt. 5 Complications
13 Uneasy Indians: Creating and Contesting Native American Mascots at Marquette University 281
14 Playing Indian and Fighting (for) Mascots: Reading the Complications of Native American and Euro-American Alliances 304
Epilogue: Closing Arguments, Opening Dialogues 328
Contributors 337
Index 341
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