We are often asked “has any of this come from Indigenous peoples?” and the answer is very much yes – our entire campaign is based around the views and voices of Indigenous peoples. Below you can find out more about those who have spoken out against mascots and imagery in general and specifically against Exeter Chiefs. It is important to note that the term “mascots” is frequently used as short hand to refer to mascots, logos, names, images, and so on, rather than just referring to match day mascots.
Exeter Chiefs’ Native imagery
- On the 10th November 2021, The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) wrote to Exeter Chiefs rugby club to ask them to end their use of misappropriated Native-style imagery in their branding. This statement from the oldest, largest and most representative group of American Indian and Alaska Natives marks a significant point in the campaign
Click here to read the letter from NCAI to Exeter Chiefs.
- Exeter Chiefs for Change held a Q&A with six Indigenous peoples in 2020 to hear their views on Exeter Chiefs’ branding
Click here to watch the Q&A panel discuss the topic
- Tony Perry, a Native American (Chickasaw) author who now lives in the UK, has spoken out extensively against Exeter Chiefs’ branding on social media and in media interviews. These are just a few of those:
Click here to read Tony’s article in the i paper in 2020
Click here to listen to Tony’s interview on BBC 5 Live (47mins in; available until 10 December 2021)
Click here to listen to Tony’s interview on BBC Radio Berkshire (2hrs 40mins in; available to listen again until 20 December 2021)
- LeAndra Nephin, a Native American (Omaha + Ponca) who now lives in the UK, has spoken out extensively against Exeter Chiefs’ branding. Here are just a selection of her interviews:
Click here for a clip from LeAndra’s ITV interview
Click here for a clip from LeAndra’s BT Sport Rugby Tonight interview
Click here for a clip from LeAndra’s BBC 5 Live interview
- Stephanie Land, Alaskan Native (Inupiaq) and Scottish rugby fan, recorded a video message to the club in November 2021
Click here to watch Stephanie’s request to Exeter Chiefs
- Jen Nollkamper (Pikunii) discussed the branding on BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight programme in 2021
Click here to view a clip from Jen’s BT Sport interview
- Iroquois Roots Rugby, an Indigenous-led rugby program in Ontario for First Nations youth, wrote to the club in 2020 and has regularly tweeted about their views on the branding. They also discussed it with Blood & Mud podcast as part of a wider interview on the work they do
Click here to watch Melanie Squires from Iroquois Roots Rugby talk about Exeter Chiefs’ branding issue
Click here to read Iroquois Roots’ letter
Click here to listen to Iroquois Roots’ interview on the Blood & Mud podcast
Click here for one of Iroquois Roots Rugby’s many tweets on this issue
- Dr Stephanie Pratt (Crow Creek Dakota – Sioux), a Native American / Anglo-American scholar living in Devon, has spoken about the issues with Exeter Chiefs branding several times over the years as far back as 2016 and most recently on BBC Radio Devon in 2021
Click here to listen to Stephanie on Radio Devon (available here until 14 November 2021)
Click here to read an interview with Stephanie in Devon Live from 2016 (re-published in 2018) here
Click here to read a blog from Stephanie from 2020
- The petition asking the club to change the imagery has lots of comments from Indigenous peoples around the world.
Click here to see the petition and click here to read the comments
- Several Indigenous people sent us comments about the branding ahead of the AGM
All Native imagery
National Congress of American Indians (NCAI)
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) was formed in 1944 to serve the broad interests of tribal governments and communities and be a unified voice. It is the oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organisation. It operates as a representative congress of American Indians and Alaska Natives and serves to develop consensus on national priority issues that impact tribal sovereignty through voting on and passing resolutions to determine NCAI’s position on a broad range of issues.
The NCAI first started campaigning against Native mascots and imagery in 1968 and still campaigns to this day, with its current “Proud to Be” campaign. It has passed numerous resolutions updating the position on Native mascots:
- Support for the Elimination of Race-Based Native Logos, Mascots, Names, Behaviors and Practices (2020)
- Urging the U.S. Secretary of Education to Take Substantive Action Regarding Schools with “Native” Sports Stereotypes (2014)
- Support for the Elimination of Race-Based Native Logos, Mascots, and Names by State Athletic Associations Receiving Federal Funds (2014)
- Commending Efforts to Eliminate Racist Stereotypes in Sports and Calling on the U.S. President and Congress to Combat These Continuing Affronts to Native Peoples (2013)
National Indian Education Association
The NIEA (National Indian Education Association) was set up in 1969 to bring together Native teachers and educators to improve the education system for Native children in the USA. Today it is the largest group of Native teachers, parents and students in the United States, acting as a forum to “discuss and act upon issues affecting the education of Indian and Native people” alongside maintaining and promoting Native culture. It has issued two resolutions calling for the elimination of race-based Native logos, mascots and names, the first in 2009 in reference to school and college sports teams, and the second in 2013 expanding that to all sports franchises in the United States.
Click here to read the 2013 resolution
Click here to read the 2009 resolution
IllumiNative was founded by Native peoples in 2020 to increase the visibility and challenge negative narratives about Indigenous peoples. It was founded following the Reclaiming Native Truth (RNT) research which was the largest public opinion research ever conducted on Native culture and concluded that negative stereotypes and myths perpetuated by culture and media are leading to the erasure of Native peoples.
They are campaigning against all uses of Native mascots, logos and names at sports teams and have produced a range of materials to support their campaign, including a series of fact sheets.
Click here to read more
Inter-Tribal Council (Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole)
The Inter-Tribal Council of Five Civilised Tribes brings together the tribal governments of the Chickasaw, Choctaw, Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), and Seminole Nations, representing over 400,000 Native people throughout the United States. They issued a resolution in 2001 calling for the elimination of “the stereotypical use of American Indian names and images as mascots in sports and other events”.
Click here to read the resolution on their website
Centre for Native American Youth (CNAY)
Centre for Native American Youth (CNAY) is a national education and advocacy organisation that works to improve the health, safety and well-being of Native youth (24 and under) across the US.
They have confirmed they are firmly against Native sports mascots and logos which “perpetuate the systematic racism within our country [and] represent inaccurate depictions of the Native American population and promote cultural appropriation.”
Hundreds of other Native organisations
In July 2020, over 450 Native organisations and allies signed a letter asking the NFL to drop all Native-themed names and imagery. These are some of the Indigenous organisations and significant individuals who signed that letter
This short film was made in 2017 examining the issue of Native mascots, logos etc and features interviews and coverage of many Indigenous peoples who have spoken out against imagery of this kind: https://youtu.be/i7jnNEZ6ONY
All My Relations is a popular podcast hosted by Indigenous women discussing all kinds of issues facing Indigenous communities. They have hosted episodes on both mascots and on cultural (mis)appropriation within their first few episodes, demonstrating the importance of the issues
Click here to listen to the All My Relations episode on Native mascots on Spotify, or search for All My Relations wherever you listen to your podcasts
Click here to listen to the All My Relations episode on Native appropriation on Spotify, or search for All My Relations wherever you listen to your podcasts
Professor of Ojibwe, and Native American author, trainer and speaker Dr. Anton Treuer explains why humans shouldn’t be sports mascots in this video
In 2015, Buzzfeed spoke to Indigenous peoples at the Southern California Indian Center about some of the biggest Native-style logos used at US clubs
Click here to watch the video
St Louis Cardinals baseball player Ryan Helsley (Cherokee) called Atlanta Braves’ use of the tomahawk chop “disrespectful” and “disappointing” in 2019
Click here to read more
Indigenous peoples talk about Native-branding, mascots and the “Tomahawk Chop” as part of a broader discussion on the racism and discrimination experienced by Native Americans, in this episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show from 1992
Click to watch the episode
This is just a very small selection of the many Indigenous-led campaigns, groups and individuals who have spoken out against Native-style imagery, logos, mascots and other branding. Please search Google and YouTube for more.