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Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians supports Washington’s NFL football team name change

Tribe calls for end to all discriminatory, racially-based mascots

July 21, 2020

On the afternoon of Wednesday, July 15, the Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians president Joseph Wildcat, Sr., on behalf of the Tribal Council, released a statement in response to Washington’s NFL football team name change. 

“The latest progress toward eliminating offensive racially-based mascots derives from the recent announcement that the National Football League’s Washington franchise will change its team name, which blatantly disparages Native People based on skin color,” the release reads. “The Lac du Flambeau Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians rejects discriminatory mascots in the strongest possible terms. The Tribe respectfully calls on all organizations and schools, who represent their entities using racially-offensive mascots, to retire the discriminatory images in favor of more inclusive representations that are respectful of all human beings.”

The release states that racially-based mascots “remain an unhealed wound for countless Native Americans who endure being portrayed as something less than human,” and calls for the retirement of all racially-based mascots. 

“No other community would tolerate — nor should they tolerate — being portrayed in derogatory terms,” the release reads. “Racially-based mascots weaken certain segments of our society and thereby our communities. The argument for keeping Native mascots, however, often centers on the respectful manner, historical significance and point of pride that communities take in being known as an Indian or Warrior.”

“As personal and prideful as some communities are about keeping their Native mascot, we, as Native Americans, revere our heritage and enjoy sharing our history and traditions,” the statement continues. “We refuse, however, to allow our very being to be used in a way that undermines the very heritage we value. We encourage communities to walk in our shoes. Envision how you identify within society and how it would feel being viewed as a caricature of your identity.”

All Native American Nations in Wisconsin oppose racially-based mascots, the release states. Joining them is the Great Lakes Intertribal Council, the National Congress of American Indians and many other organizations expressing opposition to racially-based mascots.

“We are grateful for the efforts of those who see value in all human beings and who fight for all to be respectfully represented in our schools and other organizations, where life-long perceptions are formed,” the statement reads. “Those perceptions are instrumental in determining how strong or how weak the fabric will be within all communities.”

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