While public backlash against Native American stereotypes has pushed professional sports teams in Washington, D.C., and Cleveland, Ohio, to change their names, there remain countless high schools across the U.S. that continue to use Native American-themed mascots and logos.
“The mascot imagery just continues to perpetrate and reinforce colonial white supremacist ideas and [stands] as a barrier for new opportunities for dialogue and education,” says Michael Johnson, interim managing director of IllumiNative, a national, Native woman-led racial and social justice organization based in Tulsa, Okla.
In 2020, the website fivethirtyeight.com put the count at more than 1,200 high schools. And while some states have moved to ban such imagery outright, calling it offensive and out of touch, efforts to do so have also met intense resistance by supporters who say the team names are central to the traditions and identity of their communities.
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