Category Archives: Sports

European Sports Teams Still Use Native Mascots

“Benjamin Bundervoet was wearing his normal workday outfit — a blue-and-white feathered headdress, a fringed tunic and chaps, bright paint streaked across his cheeks as he stepped onto the grass. For the next few hours, Bundervoet would be Buffalo Ben, the official team mascot for K.A.A. Gent, a top Belgian soccer team. As the players warmed up before kickoff at a recent home match, Bundervoet smiled and waved a flag bearing the team’s logo, the profile of a Native American, which is also plastered around the Ghelamco Arena.” A. Keh, The New York Times

Buffalo Ben, the official team mascot for the Belgian soccer team K.A.A. Gent. His sidekick is a female version named Buffalo Mel. Credit Jimmy Bolcina:Photonews, via Getty Images

Excerpt: Tomahawk Chops and Native American Mascots: In Europe, Teams Don’t See a Problem, By Andrew Keh, The New York Times

“Scenes like this play out every weekend across Europe, where teams big and small and across a variety of sports employ Native American names, symbols and concepts of wildly variable authenticity in their branding. There’s the hockey team in the Czech Republic that performs a yearly sage-burning ritual on the ice, the rugby team in England whose fans wear headdresses and face paint, the German football team called the Redskins and many more.

Exeter Rugby Club, a top English rugby union team, rebranded itself as the Exeter Chiefs in 1999. Its mascot, Big Chief, appears at matches waving a toy tomahawk.Credit Stu Forster:Getty Images

For years, these teams were insulated from the vigorous discussion about the use of this type of imagery by sports teams in the United States, where critics long ago deemed the practice offensive and anachronistic.

This year, the Cleveland Indians announced that they would stop using their Chief Wahoo logo on their uniforms beginning in 2019, continuing a decades-long trend in which thousands of such references have disappeared from the American sports landscape.

During that same period, though, new examples were appearing in Europe, where teams and fans have long viewed the mascots and logos through kaleidoscopes of local culture and, detached from the charged history that the imagery carries in the North America, formed their own ideas about what is socially acceptable.

But these ideas are slowly being challenged, and increasingly these teams are finding themselves being asked to confront the same questions of representation, appropriation and stereotyping. K.A.A. Gent, for example, devotes a lengthy page on its website to the history of its logo and nickname, but notes only that the club is ‘aware of the public debate in American society around the use of stereotypical images and caricatures.’

“Americans, Canadians, they’re working on this issue, talking about it, debating,” said Stephanie Pratt, a cultural ambassador for the Crow Creek South Dakota Sioux and longtime resident of Exeter, England. “Europeans are late to the table. They’re just beginning to debate it — or maybe not at all.”

Pratt has found herself in the middle of one such debate involving the Exeter Chiefs, the defending champions of England’s rugby union league.

Exeter, which rebranded itself as the Chiefs in 1999, calls its team store the Trading Post and its online fan group the Tribe. Fans chat on a message board named Pow-Wow.

Among the 15 bars at the team’s home stadium are Wigwam, Cheyenne, Apache, Mohawk, Tomahawk, Buffalo and Bison… The Frolunda Indians, a professional hockey team from Gothenburg, Sweden, was known as Vastra Frolunda IF until 1995, around the time that the Swedish Hockey League began encouraging its clubs to adopt American-style nicknames. Inspired by the Chicago Blackhawks and the fact that the team in the 1960s was said to play in a “vilda vastern,” or Wild West, style, it chose the Indians.

The club developed a cartoon logo depicting an Indian chief with a headdress fanned around his stern face, and for a time the team’s costumed mascot was a Native American hockey player with a missing tooth and feathers poking through his helmet. (These days, the team’s in-stadium mascot is an anthropomorphic bison.)

‘We, from a distance, follow the discussions about the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians,’ said Peter Pettersson Kymmer, a Frolunda team spokesman.

‘But we sincerely think that our Indian, in our point of view, is in no way offensive to the Native Americans. On the contrary, it’s a tribute, and we’re proud to wear it.”

Category: mascots, Sports

As Chief Wahoo Logo Leaves Cleveland Indians Logo Supporters Get Angry

“For decades, community activists in Ohio have held demonstrations at the Cleveland Indians’ home opener to protest the team’s name and logo — a grinning, red-faced named Chief Wahoo that some consider racist. And in what has become another tradition, Chief Wahoo’s supporters have screamed back as they head toward the turnstiles at Progressive Field…. on Friday at Cleveland’s first home game of the season the confrontation was more crowded, more tense and more vulgar than usual.” M. Stevens and D.  Waldstein, The New York Times

ICTMN

Excerpt: As Cleveland Indians Prepare to Part With Chief Wahoo, Tensions Reignite, By Matt Stevens and David  Waldstein, The New York Times

“The heightened atmosphere was likely in part because of the team’s decision to stop using the Chief Wahoo logo on its uniforms beginning next year — which angered some fans when it was announced in January.

Cleveland’s baseball team is just one part of a cultural conversation that stretches across the sports landscape. Many people vigorously oppose the use of Native American names and images as mascots and insignias, saying they are demeaning or worse.

Protesters For the mascot. Slate

Several teams use such logos, including the N.F.L.’s Washington Redskins, the N.H.L.’s Chicago Blackhawks and the N.C.A.A.’s Florida State Seminoles. But some find the Indians’ caricature, which has existed in various forms since 1947, particularly distasteful. Philip Yenyo [is] the executive director of the American Indian Movement of Ohio. One video of this year’s demonstration, which was organized by Mr. Yenyo’s group and the Committee of 500 Years of Dignity and Resistance, has been viewed more than 110,000 times.

‘People think this is just now coming up,’ Mr. Yenyo said. ‘We were never covered before. All the other demonstrations were barely touched upon.’ In another video, also produced by cleveland.com, dozens of protesters yelled, ‘Seventy years of harming the Native American community is enough’; ‘Change the name, change the logo!’; and ‘Burn, Wahoo, burn!’

In response, some fans walking to the stadium hurled profanity-laced tirades at the protesters, along with ugly names and obscene gestures…Several flaunted team jackets, jerseys and caps emblazoned with the Chief Wahoo logo. One fan made whooping noises as she walked by.

Mr. Yenyo called this year’s rally ‘a little more boisterous’ than normal, but he noted that there were no arrests and no violence. But Mr. Yenyo said that was not enough, noting that fans should expect to see protesters again next season. We’re going to continue until they change the name of the team,” he said. We want the name gone.”

Category: Sports

World’s First Indigenous Olympics in Brazil: Fire, Feathers, Fierce!

“What’s billed as the first “indigenous Olympics” kicked off Thursday with a raucous cultural mash-up that saw grimacing Maori warriors, gong-bearing Filipinos and feather-crowned tribespeople from Brazil preside over a traditional fire-lighting ceremony.” LatinofoxNews

Indigenous from the Kibatsa ethnic group leave their headdresses on the sidelines of a soccer game at the World Indigenous Games in Palmas, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015-Oct. 31, 2015

Indigenous from the Kibatsa ethnic group leave their headdresses on the sidelines of a soccer game at the World Indigenous Games in Palmas, Brazil, Thursday, Oct. 22, 2015-Oct. 31, 2015

Excerpt: World’s first ‘indigenous Olympics’ kicks off in remote Brazilian city. Latino Fox News

“The World Indigenous Games officially opens Friday, when Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff is expected to attend a lavish opening ceremony in the games’ host city, Palmas, a remote outpost in the sunbaked heart of Brazil.

A Kayapo Indian attends the cultural festival of the World Indigenous.Photo- todayonline.

A Kayapo Indian attends the cultural festival of the World Indigenous.Photo- todayonline.

Indigenous participants from all over the world. Photo-digitaljournal

Indigenous participants from all over the world. Photo-digitaljournal

Tribal representatives spontaneously broke into traditional song and dance as the media and other indigenous peoples from as far afield as Ethiopia and Mongolia formed tight, flashbulb-popping, iPhone-snapping circles around them.

Members of the Brazilian Kayapo Metykitre tribe compete in a tug-of-war. Photo-the guardian

Members of the Brazilian Kayapo Metykitre tribe compete in a tug-of-war. Photo-the guardian

Tough competition- Members of the Brazilian Enawene-Awe indigenous group compete. Photo-dailymail

Tough competition- Members of the Brazilian Enawene-Awe indigenous group compete. Photo-dailymail

A Maori man from New Zealand dances during the opening ceremony. Photo-ibtimes

A Maori man from New Zealand dances during the opening ceremony. Photo-ibtimes

A phalanx of Maoris from New Zealand, looking fierce with wide-eyed stares and menacing throat-slicing gestures, appeared to stand guard over the knot of Manoti men from Brazil’s central Mato Grosso state as they labored over the fire, finally emerging triumphant with a flaming torch.

Indigenous Protesters. Photo; riotimesonline

Indigenous Protesters. Photo; riotimesonline

The upbeat mood of the fire ceremony contrasted with the palpable anger at a protest earlier in the day by a small group of Brazilian indigenous people denouncing what they said was poor organization and unnecessary spending on the games. Narube Werreria said she saw the event as a bid to cover up the real situation of Brazil’s beleaguered indigenous populations.”

“The government is using the event to cover our eyes and say everything is all right here…But everything is not all right.” ~Narube Werreria~Member of the Karaja tribe.

 

Category: Sports

Dine College Student Is Also a Rodeo Star!

“By all accounts, Delvecchio Kaye (Navajo) is just like any other first semester Diné College student, balancing his studies and personal life. What sets this 22-year-old freshman apart from his peers is that he is a rising star in the national collegiate rodeo arena. Delvecchio, a member of the Diné College rodeo team and first semester freshman, is headed to the College National Finals Rodeo (CNFR) in Bareback Riding, June 14-20 in Casper, Wyoming.” L. Tapahonso, Tribal College Journal 

Delvecchio Kaye (Navajo) Photo- Tribalcollegejournal.org

Delvecchio Kaye (Navajo) Photo- Tribalcollegejournal.org

Excerpt: Navajo Freshman Earns Spot at College National Finals Rodeo-Lori Tapahonso, Tribalcollegejournal

“He ended his freshman season in second place in the Grand Canyon regional standings, and 16th in the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association standings.January is the first time he set foot on the Diné College campus in Tsaile as a student, but it was not his first time at the rodeo. 

Delvecchio Kaye comes from a rodeo family. photo- Nativenews today

Delvecchio Kaye comes from a rodeo family. photo- Nativenews today

Delvecchio grew up in a rodeo family; his father was a bull rider and bronc rider. His early experiences in the arena included mutton busting, junior bull riding and steer riding. Eventually he found his event in bareback riding. When asked about his winnings, he shyly chuckles, I don’t know how many I’ve won, but I have lot of buckles at home.  His humility is what keeps him grounded.

Ultimately, his future goals include finishing his education with a degree in Diné Studies and to qualify for the National Finals rodeo. Being surrounded by strong supporters is one sure way Delvecchio will achieve his goals. His father continues to coach and support him, as do his friends, many of whom he completes against. We push each other to get better, even though we compete against each other, he says with a smile.”

“It’s good to see Delvecchio do well in school and in sports here at Diné College. We always encourage student learning first and [being an] athlete second.”

~ Jackson Craig, Diné College coach~

Category: Sports

The Boxing Champions: Pride of Their Nations

O’siyo. The Apache Gold Casino Resort in San Carlos, Arizona recently held its Native American Amateur Boxing Championships. The event was a three-day affair from July 5-7. The ultimate goal of these tournaments is to create a Native American Boxing team to compete in the 2016 Olympic games.

Native American Boxing Championships. Photo- ICT

Excerpt: Inside the Native American Amateur Boxing Championships By Tish Leizens, ICT

“Twenty-eight fighters from 11 different tribes won in the three-day 2012 Native American Amateur Boxing Championships event held at the Apache Gold Casino Resort in San Carlos, Arizona on July 5-7. The champions, male and female, from ages 8 to 34, competed in specific weight classes and five divisions, including senior, junior Olympic, intermediate, junior and bantam. The winners brought pride to the tribes of Navajo, San Carlos Apache, Chicakasaw/Cherokee, Chippewa/Cherokee, Assiniboine Sioux, Pima, Gila River, Acoma Pueblo, Blood Tribe (Canada), Choctow/Cherokee and Ute… The tournament was a significant first step to producing a national Native American team to tour and compete at an international level and at the Pan Am Games, with the ultimate goal of training world-class boxers in time for the 2016 Olympic games. Marvin Clifford, Sr., director of the Native American Boxing Council (NABC), said the Championships dated back to the late 1990s, with the last tournament held in 2004… Promoting amateur boxing as a safe sport and a huge benefit to the health and wellness of Native American youth are also among the goals of NABC. We want to encourage kids to be successful outside of the ring… emphasizing that health and boxing go together.” Read the article in its entirety to see the names of the individual winners for each tribe.

I just want to be an example to the people in my reservation that you can do anything you put your mind to…Let the kids know education is so important; it’s how I found boxing, you know? Just be a living example that anything is possible.” ~Mioshia- Yosh- Wagoner~
Category: Sports

In This Corner Of the Ring: Comanche Boy!

O’siyo. He has Comanche and Choctaw ancestry, and he is scheduled to battle Indiana’s Jimmy Holmes on July 16 for the vacant World Boxing Council (WBC) Continental Americas middleweight title. The fight will take place outdoors at the Comanche Nation Casino, located in Lawton, Oklahoma, Tahdooahnippah’s hometown.

George (Comanche Boy) Tahdooahnippah. Photo- ICTMN

George (Comanche Boy) Tahdooahnippah. Photo- ICTMN

ICT By Sam Laskaris  Comanche Boy Fighting for WBC Middleweight Title

“Tahdooahnippah is undefeated in his pro career and sports a 27-0-1 record, which includes 20 knockouts… The 32-year-old, however, sounds more excited about what a victory in this match could possibly do for his career…He believes beating Holmes and earning the WBC’s Continental Americas belt would boost him considerably and possibly give him a Top 30 placing in the organization’s middleweight rankings…”

In addition to being a professional boxer, Tahdooahnippah also helps his people by being a fitness promoter for the Comanche Nation’s diabetes program. He is an inspiration to young people every where. Tahdooahnippah demonstrates the importance of good health, and equally important,  a path that just might lead to a better life. Kudos to Comanch Boy! Read the article, and share your thoughts.


Category: Sports