The Powerful vs. The People

     What started out in the 1960s as a sincere and righteous campaign to eliminate blatantly degrading, cartoonish, and otherwise stereotypical Indian sports mascots and logos has been hijacked by extremists to become what is now a damaging campaign intent on eradicating ALL Native American identity from sports and the American landscape. This movement continues to be spearheaded by a relatively small percentage of radical Indian activists aided by their allies in academia, media, government, and a variety of "grievance" groups motivated by an anti-American, "decolonization" agenda. The list of Native history and identity which has been stricken from the American landscape includes:

  • highway signs in North Dakota once bearing Native imagery

  • a mountain in Idaho once named in recognition of Native Americans

  • public schools in South Dakota which are no longer required to teach Native American history

  • a move away from teaching about the "Trail of Tears" in public schools

  • the elimination of the "Apache" military helicopter name

  • the elimination of the famous Mutual of Omaha Insurance Indian head logo

  • the elimination of the iconic Land O' Lakes "Indian maiden" logo

  • the elimination of the proud Leinenkugel's Indian logo

  • the elimination of Native identity and traditions at all but 6 NCAA colleges

  • the elimination of Native identity and traditions at over 2,000 public schools nationally

  • the elimination of the storied Washington Redskins name and logo

     This damaging movement is dividing and devastating once-peaceful communities largely along racial lines. Taking from the Marxist playbook, name change activists seek to destroy cherished traditions and remove any sense of community pride through intimidation, false arguments, protests, and accusations of racism. After leaving communities in ruin, they offer no positive alternatives for Native American education or remembrance.

     The American Indian Movement (AIM), a radical leftist organization has been pushing this destructive decolonization campaign since the 1960s. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), once a moderate organization, has become increasingly radicalized. In 2015, NCAI passed a resolution in support of a laundry list of extreme progressive ideology.   http://www.ncai.org/resolutions/2015-annual-resolutions  One paragraph from the resolution reads, "BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, because tribal nations, two-spirit equality, and decolonization are inextricably linked, one cannot be truly achieved without the other." 

     NCAI leadership has forcibly come out in opposition to long-cherished Native sports team names and logos with an emphasis on the Washington Redskins. In a 2002 Washington Post interview, former NCAI President, Walter "Blackie" Wetzel, speaking on the topic of the Washington Redskins name and logo said, "it made us all so proud to have an Indian on a big-time team...it's only a small group of radicals who oppose those names." Mr. Wetzel was absolutely correct in his assessment as born out by multiple polls of individual Native Americans from across the country conducted by reputable, independent organizations since 1992 including Annenberg Public Policy Center, Harris Research Group, the Associated Press GFK, and the Washington Post. All reported that 80-90% of Native Americans surveyed said that the Washington Redskins nickname, as well as the Indian nicknames of other professionals, high school, and college teams, should NOT be changed. The opinion is more divided on reservations, yet a majority (67%) said sports teams should not stop using Indian nicknames, mascots, characters, and symbols while 32% said they should. This percentage mirrors the results of the only actual vote of tribal members concerning this topic. In a 2009 landslide, 67% of voting members on the North Dakota Spirit Lake Tribe, voted in support of the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux name and logo. 

     The most recent surveys conducted by the Washington Post concerning the Washington Redskins nickname and logo found 91% of Native Americans surveyed in 2016 have no opinion, have no problem with, or support the name and logo. In 2019, the Washington Post reported the most common word Native Americans associated with the term Redskins is "proud." Even the leadership of Not Your Mascot effectively concedes that their opinion is in the overwhelming minority as witnessed by the plaintiff's claim of representing just 30% of the Native American ethnic class in the Patent and Trademark lawsuit brought by Amanda Blackhorse against the Washington Redskins.

With such overwhelming support from Native Americans for these names and images, one could reasonably wonder why the public narrative is the exact opposite. Simply put, only a small percentage of Indian people have embraced the decolonization mentality, but unfortunately, they have infiltrated positions of power on many tribal governments and Native American organizations including NCAI. A one-sided narrative has been pushed in the media for decades and has been picked up and promoted in the halls of academia. Until the formation of NAGA, individual Native Americans have not had a platform to express the voice of the "silenced majority" of Indian people. It is truly a matter of the powerful versus the people.

PO Box 742 Devils Lake, North Dakota 58301

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