Ending the Era of Harmful “Indian” Mascots

Key NCAI Resources

National School Mascot Tracking Database: The Current Numbers

Ending the Legacy of Racism in Sports & the Era of Harmful "Indian" Sports Mascots 

NCAI Resolutions on Harmful Mascots in Sports

Washington Post: NCAI President Op-ed: Ridding Football of Racial Slurs

Op-ed: The destructive dynamic of dehumanizing Native Americans

NCAI Commends Decision by Major League Baseball's Cleveland Franchise to Change Its "Indians" Name

NCAI: Learn About Tribal Nations, Citizenship, History, and Contemporary Issues

NCAI Statement on Washington Football Team's Retirement of Racist Mascot

NCAI Applauds Decision by Little League International to Ban Racially Offensive Team Names and Mascots

NCAI's Longstanding Opposition to Harmful "Indian" 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 "Indian" mascots.

NCAI's position is clear, longstanding, and deeply rooted in our 77 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 End "Indian" Mascots

NCAI is the oldest, largest, and most representative national organization that shares the unified voice of hundreds of Tribal Nations representing millions of Native people, and that voice has been consistent and clear for decades: sports mascots are symbols of disrespect that degrade, mock, and harm Native people, in particular Native youth. NCAI’s work to end “Indian” or Native “themed” mascots, used interchangeably here, is guided by our numerous resolutions pertaining to cultural appropriation and the harmful effects of these mascots. For decades, NCAI largely focused its efforts on ending “Indian” mascots at the professional level, directing specific attention to the former mascot of the NFL’s Washington Football Team. 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.

Archive of NCAI News & Updates


December 2020

September 2020

September 10, 2020

Statement on Kansas City Chiefs Announcement of Game Day Rituals

NCAI views the Kansas City Chiefs' announced modifications as positive yet modest initial steps in a long and ongoing educational process that ultimately will lead to comprehensive change, change that respects the humanity, diversity, resiliency, and vibrancy of tribal nations, cultures, and peoples.

July 2020

July 13, 2020

NCAI Statement on the Washington Football Team’s Retirement of Racist Mascot

"Today is a day for all Native people to celebrate. We thank the generations of tribal nations, leaders, and activists who worked for decades to make this day possible. We commend the Washington NFL team for eliminating a brand that disrespected, demeaned, and stereotyped all Native people, and we call on all other sports teams and corporate brands to retire all caricatures of Native Americans that they use as their mascots."

July 3, 2020

NCAI Response to the Washington Football Team’s Commitment to Addressing Name Change

WASHINGTON, DC | Today, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) welcomed the Washington NFL team’s announcement this morning of its plan to conduct a “thorough review” of the team’s name and mascot, which represents an important breakthrough for Indian Country in its longstanding effort to change the name and mascot.

July 2, 2020

NCAI Commends Leadership of FedEx in Taking Stand Against the Washington NFL Team’s Racial Slur Mascot, Calls on League’s Other Sponsors and Retailers to Join Movement

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) commends this evening’s formal request by FedEx asking the Washington NFL team to “change the team name.” FedEx’s announcement is particularly noteworthy given that the company is the stadium sponsor of the Washington NFL team, and FedEx CEO Fred Smith owns a minority ownership stake in the team.

June 2020

October 2019

October 8, 2019

NCAI Applauds Washington, D.C. City Council's Vote to Declare Indigenous Peoples' Day

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country, applauds today’s vote by the Washington, D.C. City Council to celebrate Monday, October 14, 2019 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day in the Nation’s Capital, replacing Columbus Day.

August 2019

August 13, 2019

NCAI Response to Latest Flawed Poll on R*dskins Team Name

“This new poll, which purports to survey individuals who self-identify as Native Americans with no ability to confirm their identity, is equally as flawed and unreliable as the Washington Post’s 2016 poll. It proves nothing, nor does it absolve the NFL of its moral obligation to discard the longstanding symbol of racism and division that serves as the mascot of its Washington franchise,” said Kevin Allis, CEO of the National Congress of American Indians.

May 2019

August 2018