Ending the Era of Harmful Native “Themed” Mascots

Key NCAI Resources

NCAI's Longstanding Opposition to Harmful Native "Themed" Sports Mascots

As the nation's oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organization, NCAI has long held a clear position against derogatory and harmful stereotypes of Native peopleincluding sports mascotsin media and popular culture. Since NCAI launched its campaign to address stereotypes of Native people in popular culture, media, and sports in 1968, significant progress has been made in pursuit of ending the era of unsanctioned Native “themed” mascots.

NCAI's position is clear, longstanding, and deeply rooted in our 78 years as a leading voice for Indian Country  we advocate for and protect the civil rights, social justice, and racial equity of all Native people in all parts of American society. 

NCAI's Work to Retire Unsanctioned Native "Themed" Mascots

NCAI is the oldest, largest, and most representative national organization sharing the unified voice of hundreds of Tribal Nations representing millions of Native people, and that voice has been consistent and clear for decades: unsanctioned sports mascots are symbols of disrespect that degrade, mock, and harm Native people, particularly Native youth. NCAI’s work to retire “Indian” or Native “themed” mascots, used interchangeably, is guided by our numerous resolutions pertaining to cultural appropriation and the harmful effects of these mascots. These resolutionspassed via consensus among NCAI membership—emphasize the importance of education by means of tribally-informed curriculum, such that stereotypical appropriation gives way to sanctioned representation. For decades, NCAI largely focused its efforts on ending Native “themed” mascots at the professional level, directing specific attention to the former mascot of the NFL’s Washington "Commanders". In 2020, NCAI formally expanded the initiative to include work at the K-12 level, which included the development of the National School Mascot Tracking Database. In 2021, NCAI further expanded the initiative to include work at the state level, developing a State Activity Tracker and engaging directly with state legislatures pursuing mascot bans through legislation

NCAI’s Ending “Indian” Mascots initiative currently focuses on three primary levels: the K-12 school level, the state level, and the professional sports level.

To request NCAI’s help at the K-12 or state levels, please email mascots@ncai.org.