Today Native Americans who lived on the territory of the United States even before the white people came to tend to become dominated by the invaders. For many years already they live under the immense influence of European Americans who seem to believe that they are better than others and act accordingly. Willingly or unwillingly but Native Americans not only withdrew into the shadows but also became the victims of discrimination.
The representatives of this population, especially children, and the youth are often poorly treated because of who they are. In this perspective, the usage of Native American mascots just increases the opportunity to be put into a worse situation. Even though they can encourage a better understanding of who the Natives are, by activating negative stereotypes, National American mascots promote misrepresentation, increase the number of crimes, affect racism, and lower people’s self-esteem.
Misrepresentation Caused by Native American Mascots
Native Americans are treated badly because their mascots reveal negative stereotypes. The whites were claimed to have a sense of superiority as they started to live in the United States, which affected the position of the Natives adversely. Even though the life of the society changed with time, such belief remained, and popular books and movies portrayed “a misleading and denigrating image of the Native American” (NCAI para. 18). They were called redskins, which humiliated them and underlined their imperfection. As a result, a stereotype that all Native Americans are aggressive and not efficient was created. This belief determined the way they were and often are still treated.
Increased Crime Rates and Offences
Rather often Native Americans face offenses and experience violence, which increases crime rates in the location where they live making it even less safe. Each new generation of American population inherits not only the culture but also the main views of its predecessors. As a result, the meaning that is hidden by the mascots is communicated through the years. The youth of different races often quarrel and fight with each other, which leads to negative outcomes. American Indians are already proved to suffer from harmful behaviors more than others (Cladoosby para. 8). They do not believe that someone would give them a hand and get used to indecent treatment that hurts society.
Popular Culture and Sports
Popular culture continues to promote the negative image of American Indians and increases racism. Native American mascots are often used in popular culture. They commonly appear in the names of different sports teams. Such a fact could be beneficial if the words chosen by the players were appropriate. Suzan Harjo uses an example of the football team called The Redskins to explain how popular culture promotes the negative image of Native Americans in today’s world. She underlines that African Americans are not called Negros already but American Indians are still associated with the R-word and progress on race relations is not seen (Basu para. 7).
In this way, it is proved that Native Americans today are not equal not only to European Americans but also to African Americans and other races even though the general public belief in the absence of racial discrimination.
Influences on Self-Esteem
The mascots have adverse effects on people’s self-esteem and sense of pride. Several years ago scientists researched to reveal the psychological effects of mascots on American Indian youth. It was found that they do not increase the level of satisfaction and pride; for Native Americans, they are mainly reminders of the fact that they are different from others and neglected by others. Those individuals who know how European Americans treat mascots tend to achieve less than others because they become frustrated and unassertive (Sommers para. 7).
Promotion of Understanding
Even though there are many proofs of Native American mascots having an adverse influence on the population, they have positive effects. It is critical to realize that mascots themselves are not able to hurt people. In his interview, Saginaw Chippewas once said “that’s what makes these kids feel marginalized — the way their culture and their people were treated” (Lukas para. 11). With these words, he wanted to underline that only human beings can hurt other human beings.
Mascots are just the things that are used as a reason for offenses. If they did not exist, there would be some other cause. However, while they are present in popular culture, they can be used to promote the understanding of American Indians as a nation that used to dominate America. Still, this is the only advantage of mascots, and it is not strong enough to prevent all other negative consequences.
Thus, Native American mascots play a great role in the lives of American Indians. They affect both the way they are treated by others and the way they treat themselves. Unfortunately, this influence is mainly negative today because of the stereotypes that communicated from one generation to another. To make this situation not completely hopeless, it might be better to forget about the past and consider how else Native Americans can be made equal to other races.
Basu, Moni. Native American Mascots: Pride or Prejudice?. 2013. Web.
Lukas, Paul. Tribe Supports Native American Mascots. 2013. Web.
NCAI. Ending the Era of Harmful “Indian” Mascots. 2014. Web.
Sommers, Sam. The Native American Mascot: Tribute or Stereotype? 2012. Web.