Racial Imagery and Native Americans: A First Look at the Empirical Evidence Behind the Indian Mascot Controversy
18 Pages Posted: 20 Oct 2015
Date Written: 2003
With the cancellation proceedings against the Washington Redskins trademark, the declaration of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights (USCCR) that called “for an end to the use of Native American images and team names by non-Native schools,” and the nationwide debate on the appropriateness of Indian mascots highlighted by a recent Sports Illustrated poll, it seems surprising that no comprehensive empirical study of Indian mascot usage has been conducted to date. Based on a preliminary analysis of mascot usage nationwide and how that usage varies with differing population demographics, I propose an alternative to the comprehensive prohibition on Indian mascot usage advocated by the USCCR. The proposed alternative, based in part on an application of U.S. trademark law, balances the desire to eliminate racial mascots with a sense of respect for tribal sovereignty and the rights of a tribe to license that identity where they, as the owner of a collective political identity, deem it culturally appropriate.
Keywords: Mascots, Indians, Intellectual Property, Trademark
JEL Classification: 034,
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation