Native American mascot controversy
The propriety of using Native American mascots and images in sports has been a topic of debate in the United States and Canada since the 1960s. Numerous civil rights, educational, athletic, and academic organizations consider the use of native names or symbols by non-native teams to be a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping which should be eliminated. Many individuals admire the heroism and romanticism evoked by the classic Native American image, but others view the use of mascots as offensive, demeaning, or racist. The controversy has resulted in many institutions changing the names and images associated with their sports teams. Native American images and nicknames nevertheless remain fairly common in American sports, and may be seen in use by teams at all levels from elementary school to professional.
Americans have had a history of drawing inspiration from native peoples and "playing Indian" that dates back at least to the 18th century. This practice led directly to the origins of many nicknames and mascots. Like the Boy Scouts (in particular, the Order of the Arrow) and many summer camps, university students in the late 19th and early 20th centuries adopted Indian names and symbols for their group identities, not from authentic sources but rather as Native American life was imagined by Euro-Americans.
Profession team nicknames had similar origins. Founded as the Boston Red Stockings, the team became the Braves for the first time in 1912. Their owner, James Gaffney, was a member of New York City's political machine, Tammany Hall, one of the societies originally formed to honor Tamanend, a chief of the Delaware. The success of the Braves in the 1914 World Series may have been the reason for the Cleveland team, which was looking for a new nickname, to become the Indians in 1915. The story that the team is named to honor Louis Sockalexis, the first Native American to play major league baseball, cannot be verified from historical documents. The football team now in Washington, DC was originally also the Boston Braves when formed in 1932, since it was the custom at the time to have the same team names when baseball and football shared the same stadium. Moving to the home of the Boston Red Sox, the name was changed to the Boston Redskins in 1933 before moving again to Washington. Thus the use of Native American names and imagery by this team began before the hiring of Lone Star Dietz as coach in 1933. 
In the 1940's the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) created a campaign to eliminate negative stereotyping of Native American people in the media. Over time, the campaign began to focus on Indian names and mascots in sports. The NCAI maintains that teams with mascots such as the Braves and the Redskins perpetuate negative stereotypes of Native American people, and demean their native traditions and rituals. Proponents of Native American mascots, however, believe that Native American mascots pay respect to these people and promote a better understanding of their cultures. Despite this issue gaining prominence during the civil rights movement, it still continues today as many teams continue to possess mascots with controversial names and images.
The stereotyping of Native Americans must be understood in the context of history which includes conquest, forced relocation, and organized efforts to eradicate native cultures, such as the boarding schools of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which separated young Native Americans from their families in order educate them as Euro-Americans. As stated in an editorial by Carter Meland (Anishinaabe heritage) and David E. Wilkins (Lumbee) both professors of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota: "Since the first Europeans made landfall in North America, native peoples have suffered under a weltering array of stereotypes, misconceptions and caricatures. Whether portrayed as noble savages, ignoble savages, teary-eyed environmentalists or, most recently, simply as casino-rich, native peoples find their efforts to be treated with a measure of respect and integrity undermined by images that flatten complex tribal, historical and personal experience into one-dimensional representations that tells us more about the depicters than about the depicted." 
Argument opposing the use of Native American mascots 
Opponents of Native American mascots feel that the mascots breed insensitivity and misunderstanding about native people. Opponents also highlight the seeming double standard for human beings as mascots where there are no mascots based on African Americans, or Asian Americans depicted in sports. The University of Notre Dame’s “Fighting Irish." and the University of Louisiana at Lafayette's "Ragin' Cajuns" represent ethnic groups, but are exceptions in using symbols that represent segments of Euro-Americans culture historically, using their own images and symbols. Universities that were founded to educate Native Americans are exceptions on the same basis. The University of North Carolina at Pembroke continues to have a substantial number of native students, and close ties to the Lumbee tribe. Their nickname is the Braves, but the mascot is a Red-Tailed Hawk. The Fighting Indians of the Haskell Indian Nations University continues to participate in the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and the Midlands Collegiate Athletic Conference.
Civil Rights 
In 2001, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights released an advisory opinion calling for an end to the use of Native American images and team names by non-Native schools. The opinion made the following points:
- The use of Native American images and nicknames in school is insensitive and should be avoided, and may violate anti-discrimination laws.
- These references.. are particularly inappropriate and insensitive in light of the long history of forced assimilation that American Indian people have endured in this country.
- It is particularly disturbing that Native American references are still to be found in educational institutions ... where diverse groups of people come together to learn not only the "Three Rs," but also how to interact respectfully with people from different cultures.
- The use of stereotypical images may create a hostile environment that may be intimidating to Indian students. American Indians have the lowest high school graduation rates in the nation and even lower college attendance and graduation rates. The perpetuation of harmful stereotypes may exacerbate these problems.
- Schools that continue [these practices] claim that their use stimulates interest in Native American culture and honors Native Americans but have simply failed to listen to the Native groups, religious leaders, and civil rights organizations that oppose this behavior.
- Mascots, symbols and team names are not accurate representations of Native Americans. Even those that purport to be positive are romantic stereotypes that give a distorted view of the past. These false portrayals prevent non-Native Americans from understanding the true historical and cultural experiences of American Indians. Sadly, they also encourage biases and prejudices that have a negative effect on contemporary Indian people. These references may encourage interest in mythical "Indians" created by the dominant culture, but they block genuine understanding of contemporary Native people as fellow Americans.
In February 2013 the State of Michigan Department of Civil Rights (MDCR) filed a complaint with the US Department of Education. MDCR's complaint asserts that new research clearly establishes that use of American Indian imagery negatively impacts student learning, creating an unequal learning environment in violation of Article VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
In a report on the status of Native American students, the National Education Association included the elimination of Indian mascots and sports team names as one of its recommendations. In 2010 a law was passed in Wisconsin to eliminate race-based nicknames, logos and mascots in schools. Schools can argue to keep their race-based mascot if they have the permission of local Native American tribes. It is the first law of its kind in the country and during the same year a similar law was proposed in Colorado and Minnesota. On May 17, 2012, the Oregon State Board of Education voted 5-1 to adopt a rule prohibiting Oregon public schools from using Native American names, symbols, or images as school mascots. Schools have until July 1, 2017 to comply. Fifteen schools using the nicknames Indians, Warriors, Braves and Chieftains were affected. However Native American response was not unanimous; out of nine tribes, two voicing opposition to the statewide ban on the basis of tribal sovereignty. Leaders said that there might have been an opportunity for developing an educational program for all students to learn about true native culture. As of March, 2013, the Oregon legislature is considering bills that would modify the Board of Education's decision. One would allow for retention of a mascot or nickname with tribal approval, the other would remove the financial penalty for non-compliance.
Social Sciences 
In 2005, the American Psychological Association issued a resolution "Recommending the Immediate Retirement of American Indian Mascots, Symbols, Images, and Personalities by Schools, Colleges, Universities, Athletic Teams, and Organizations" due to the harm done by creating a hostile environment, the negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian children, and is discrimination that may violate civil rights. It also impacts non-natives by reinforcing mainstream stereotypes, preventing learning about Native American culture. Stereotyping is disrespectful of the beliefs, traditions and values of Native Americans. Similar resolutions have been adopted by the American Sociological Association  and the American Counseling Association.
Social science research gives weight to the perceptions of those directly affected. In particular studies support the view that sports mascots and images are not trivial. Stereotyping directly effects academic performance and self-esteem, which contribute to all of the other issues faced by Native Americans, including suicide, unemployment, and poverty. Euro-Americans exposed to mascots are more likely to believe not only that stereotypes are true, but that Native Americans have no identity beyond these stereotypes.
Research also demonstrates the harm done to society by stereotyping of any kind. Two studies examined the effect of exposure to an American Indian sports mascot on the tendency to endorse stereotypes of a different minority group. A study was first done at the University of Illinois, and then replicated at The College of New Jersey with the same results. Students were given a paragraph to read about Chief Illiniwek adapted from the University of Illinois' official website; while the control group was given a description of an arts center. In both studies the students exposed to the sports mascot were more likely to express stereotypical views of Asian-Americans. Although Chief Illiniwek was described only in terms of positive characteristics (as a respectful symbol, not a mascot), the stereotyping of Asian-Americans included negative characteristics, such as being "socially inept". This was indicative of a spreading effect; exposure to any stereotypes increased the likelihood of stereotypical thinking.
Trend toward the Elimination of School Mascots 
Colleges and universities 
Some college teams voluntarily changed their names and mascots. Stanford University had "The Stanford Indian" as it mascot from 1930 to 1972. Today "Stanford Cardinal" honors the university athletic team color. The mascot of the Stanford Band is the "Stanford Tree." Another early change was the "Saltine Warrior" that represented Syracuse University from 1931 until 1978. After a brief attempt to use a Roman warrior, the mascot became Otto the Orange for the school color.
Marquette University changed their team name from the Warriors to the Golden Eagles in 1994. The school’s president stated:"We live in a different era than when the Warriors nickname was selected in 1954. The perspective of time has shown us that our actions, intended or not, can offend others. We must not knowingly act in a way that others will believe, based on their experience, to be an attack on their dignity as fellow human beings." Also in 1994, St. John's University (New York) changed the name of its athletic teams from the Redmen to the Red Storm after the university was pressured by American Indian groups who considered Redmen a slur.
In late 2002, The Strategic Planning Committee of Stonehill College determined that the then-current mascot, the chieftain, was disrespectful to American Indians and decided that it would be changed. After discussion, the mascot was changed to the Skyhawk in 2005. Jim Seavey, associate director of athletics stated: Twelve years ago, the college discarded the logo that depicted the Indian with the headdress and feathers and stuff. We really did not have anything to represent our identity that we were comfortable with. We felt . . . that it wasn't appropriate to have a physical representation of a Native American as our mascot," 
Additionally, teams that are not directly affected by this controversy have issued their opinions. The University of Wisconsin–Madison and the University of Iowa have both refused to schedule non-conference games against schools with Native American mascots. The University of Iowa's own nickname, "Hawkeyes", has Native American origins (Iowa is the "Hawkeye State"), although the team uses a hawk as its symbol rather than an Indian. The University of Oregon, following the example set by The Oregonian newspaper, declined to refer to the University of Illinois team as the "Illini" in a basketball game in 2005. The Central Michigan University nickname, the Chippewas, was originally placed on the “hostile or abusive” list but was removed when the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation of Michigan gave its support to the nickname.
In 2012, the University of California, Berkeley called for the student-run University of California Marching Band to discontinue performances of "California Indian Song" after complaints from alumni. Currently, the Cal Band is attempting to rename the song and rewrite its lyrics.
National Collegiate Athletic Association 
The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), the ruling authority on college athletics, distributed a “self evaluation” to 31 colleges in 2005, for teams to examine the use of potentially offensive imagery with their mascot choice. Subsequently 19 teams were cited as having potentially "hostile or abusive" names, mascots, or images, that would be banned from displaying them during post-season play, and prohibited from hosting tournaments. Since then, all of the colleges previously using the nickname Indians changed them; Arkansas State University to Red Wolves, Indiana University of Pennsylvania to Crimson Hawks, McMurry University to War Hawks, Midwestern State University to Mustangs, Newberry College to Wolves, University of Louisiana at Monroe to Warhawks, and Catawba College to Catawba Indians with approval of that tribe. The College of William and Mary (W&M) had previously changed from "Indians" to The Tribe, but was cited due to two feathers in its logo, which were removed. After a brief period of having a frog-like character Colonel Ebirt as its unofficial mascot, W&M select the Griffin in 2010. Both Alcorn State University and Bradley University kept the nickname Braves but change their mascots, while the Chowan University Braves became the Hawks. The Carthage College Redskins became the Red Men, and the Southeastern Oklahoma State University Savages changed to Savage Storm. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Fighting Illini kept the nickname as referring to the state, not Native Americans, but officially stopped using the Chief Illiniwek image and mascot in 2007, although an attachment remains among students and alumni. 
The University of North Dakota initially challenged the NCAA policy in court, but settled in 2007 when it was given three years to obtain consent from the Sioux tribes in the state. When one tribe refused permission, the state Board of Higher Education proceeded with plans to eliminate the Fighting Sioux name and logo. In 2011 the State Legislature voted that the university should retain the name but in a 2012 referendum the voters decided to proceed with the change, which has been completed but no alternative nickname or logo has been selected.
Four additional colleges originally on the "hostile and abusive" list: Central Michigan University (Chippewas), Florida State University (Seminoles), Mississippi College (Choctaws) and University of Utah (Utes) were granted waivers to retain their nicknames after gaining support from those respective tribes.
High Schools 
Many high schools across the country have encountered the same scenario, some making voluntary changes while others resisting. Frontier Regional School, in Deerfield, MA removed its Redskin mascot in 2000. The school now goes by the moniker of the Redhawks. Mountain Empire High School in Pine Valley, CA changed their mascot from the Redskins to the Red Hawks in 1998. Turners Falls High School of Turners Falls, MA changed its fight song, known as the tomahawk chop, but did not change its mascot. Blacksburg High School in Blacksburg, VA changed their mascot from the Indians to the Bruins and the corresponding middle school mascot of the Braves was changed to the Titans. On the other hand, Union High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, a high-profile high school athletic program, has consistently opposed protests and proposed legislation intended to change its "Redskins" nickname. Savannah High School (Missouri) has been criticized for their mascot, Savannah Savages.
The Cooperstown Central School Board of Education (NY) voted 6-1 on March 6, 2013 to remove the Redskins mascot from its interscholastic athletic, extracurricular and academic programs. The move was prompted by a vote by the student body, asking that the mascot be changed. The Oneida Indian Nation was so moved by the actions of the Cooperstown students, that a letter by Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter was written to the students, commending their decision and offering to make a contribution to help offset the cost of changing mascots.
Professional Teams 
The Golden State Warriors retain the name but eliminated Native American imagery in 1971. Since that time, their logos have emphasized the state of California, with their current primary logo depicting the new eastern span of the San Francisco–Oakland Bay Bridge. The warrior depicted on secondary logos of that team is a generic, lightning-wielding figure. The Edmonton Eskimos is also exceptional, given that their only stereotypical element appears to be the name of one of their mascots, Nanook, a polar bear.
Some teams have made limited changes in recent years. In 1989 the Kansas City Chiefs switched from Warpaint, a Pinto horse ridden by a man in a feathered headdress, to their current mascot K. C. Wolf. In 2009 the horse returned, but ridden by a cheerleader. The NHL's Chicago Blackhawks use an anthropomorphic hawk as their mascot character although a Native American's profile appears on their jerseys and the team was named in honor of the team's founder's military unit, which was named the "Blackhawk Division" after Black Hawk, a Native American chief.
However the other professional teams continue to utilize Native American names and mascots as they always have.
The Cleveland Indians have replaced Chief Wahoo with a block letter "C" or script "I" in many situations, but the logo remains on their home caps. Perhaps this is a limited response to protests by Native Americans and others, which have gone on for more than twenty years.
The appropriateness of the Washington Redskins name and logo, which is a picture of a Native American, has been debated since it was officially registered in 1967. There have been a few instances of media refusing to use the name in sports reporting. Kansas City Star policy on Washington NFL team's name as stated by the editor: "I see no compelling reason for any publisher to reprint an egregiously offensive term as a casual matter of course." The Journal Star in Lincoln, Nebraska and the Portland Press Herald in Maine took the same position. The team's unofficial mascot is Zema Williams (Chief Zee), an African-American man who began attending games in 1978 wearing an Indian costume including feathered headdress and rubber tomahawk. Other fans attend in costume, and are also celebrated by the team.
The name debate heated up in 1992, when Washington made it to the Super Bowl against the Buffalo Bills. The game was held in Minnesota, which has the nation’s largest Native American population. Prior to the game, more than 2,000 Native Americans stood outside the stadium and protested with signs that read, “we are not mascots,” and, “promote sports not racism.” The American Indian Movement along with the National Congress of American Indians sponsored the protest. Shortly afterwards, the court case to cancel the trademarks used by the team began.  The team continues to receive attention as the more egregious example. A bill was introduced in the US House of Representatives on March 20, 2013 to void any use of the name as a trademark. The primary sponsor, Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton (D., D.C.), stated she supports the local team but not the name. In April 2013 a member of the DC City Counsel, David Grosso proposed a non-binding resolution to change the name because the current name is “a derogatory, racist name.” 
Varying degrees of offensiveness 
To further complicate this issue, many feel that there are varying levels of offensiveness with team names and mascots. The nature and degree of stereotyping varies depending upon the name of the team, the logo, the mascot, and the behavior of fans. The greatest offense is taken when the logo and mascot are caricatures viewed as insulting, such as the Cleveland Indian's Chief Wahoo; the name of the team is often regarded as a racial slur, such as redskins; or the behavior of the mascot or fans is based upon popular images of Indians which trivializes authentic native cultures.
Anil Adyanthaya, an attorney, wrote on June 5, 2005, "The use of Aztec or Seminole as a nickname by itself would not appear to be racist, as such names refer to a particular civilization rather than an entire race of people. In this way, they are no different from other school nicknames such as Trojans and Spartans (like Aztecs, ancient peoples) or Fighting Irish and Flying Dutchmen (like Seminoles, nationalities). Similarly, Warriors and Braves are no different from the fighting men of other cultures, like Vikings, Minutemen, or Musketeers (all current NCAA mascots, the first of which is also an NFL mascot) so it seems hard to argue that their use is uniquely demeaning in some way." However, it is not the names by themselves that are uniquely insulting to Native Americans. Dr. Richard Lapchick, director emeritus of Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, in an article: "Could you imagine people mocking African Americans in black face at a game? Yet go to a game where there is a team with an Indian name and you will see fans with war paint on their faces. Is this not the equivalent to black face?
The University of Utah, Ute mascot: In 1996 Swoop, a red tailed hawk, became the new mascot for the University of Utah. Swoop symbolizes the soaring spirit of the state of Utah and the institution itself. For many decades, the school did not have an official Western Athletic Conference mascot. As early as the 1950s, the University of Utah created a Ute Indian boy, named "Hoyo", as its mascot. The University of Utah club organizations, such as the Associated Students of the University of Utah, the University of Utah Alumni Association, the Daily Chronicle, and many other social organizations highly celebrated "Hoyo" at homecoming events, before and after football games events, and at other social events for many years. Even though Swoop is now the University of Utah's official mascot, Utah fans and its clubs alike still use "Utes" as their nickname at sporting events. This is done with permission from the Ute Tribal Council.
Argument supporting the use of Native American mascots 
Some individuals who support the use of Native American mascots state that they are meant to be respectful, and to pay homage to Native American people. Many have made the argument that Native American mascots focus on bravery, courage and fighting skills rather than anything derogatory. Karl Swanson, vice-president of the Washington Redskins professional football team, declared in the magazine Sports Illustrated that his team's name "symbolizes courage, dignity, and leadership," and that the "Redskins symbolize the greatness and strength of a grand people." At a symposium at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington, D.C., native and University of North Florida professor E. Newton Jackson got a round of applause when he said he stopped using the nickname decades ago. The Redskins have often said that their name and logo honors Native Americans, but he wasn't buying that argument at all. "How does one person tell another that they honor them, when I'm telling you that what you're saying is not honoring me?" Jackson said. For those that have studied the issue scientifically, claiming ownership of the names and symbols belonging to another culture is evidence of racism, whether done consciously and maliciously or not.
Supporters of the use of native imagery reject the term racism because they associate that word with the experience of African-Americans rather than Native Americans, however racism is a broader term for any discriminatory practice based upon ethnicity. Slavery was a more personal assault and continued after emancipation in the form of discrimination that insured a continued source of cheap labor. What Euro-Americans wanted from Native Americans was not labor but land, and most were willing to have native people themselves assimilate. Continued discrimination came to those who refused to do so, but asserted their separate identity and rights of sovereignty. The appropriation of native cultures is therefore a discriminatory practice that is not understood as such by those that think of assimilation as a positive process.
Others claim Native American mascots help promote the culture to those who might be unaware of its significance. Chief Illiniwek, the former athletic symbol for the University of Illinois, has been another figure who has come under scrutiny. However, in 1990 the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois called the mascot a dignified symbol: "His ceremonial dance is done with grace and beauty. The Chief keeps the memory of the people of a great Native American tribe alive for thousands of Illinoisans who otherwise would know little or nothing of them. However, the tribal costume was not of the Illini confederacy, but that of the Lakota tribe. The Peoria Tribe of Indians of Oklahoma is the closest living descendants of the Illiniwek Confederacy; and in 2005, John P. Froman, the new Chief when asked his position by the NCAA, indicated that "Chief (Illiniwek) was not representative of our tribe and culture, mainly because the costume is Sioux." In 2006, in response to a widely published column by journalist George Will in support of the symbol's use, he wrote a letter reiterating the Peoria Tribe's opposition to the symbol and decrying that the "University of Illinois has ignored the tribe’s request for nearly five years." On March 13, 2007, the University of Illinois board of trustees voted to retire Illiniwek's name, image and regalia.
Steven Denson, director of diversity for Southern Methodist University and member of the Chickasaw nation, while not issuing a blanket endorsement, has nevertheless stated that there are acceptable ways to use Native American mascots if it is done in a respectful and tasteful manner. He states: "I believe it is acceptable if used in a way that fosters understanding and increased positive awareness of the Native-American culture. And it must also be done with the support of the Native-American community. There is a way to achieve a partnership that works together to achieve mutually beneficial goals."
Public Opinion Surveys 
In 2001, Indian Country Today conducted a poll of an undisclosed number of readers reporting that "81 percent of respondents indicated use of American Indian names, symbols and mascots are predominantly offensive and deeply disparaging to Native Americans." 
Subsequent polling results published in Sports Illustrated in March 2002 finding that 90% of Indians living on reservations found the practice to contribute to discrimination, whereas 10% of Indians living off reservations stated that it didn't. The journal concluded that "Although most Native American activists and tribal leaders consider Indian team names and mascots offensive, neither Native Americans in general nor a cross section of U.S. sports fans agree. According to the article, There is a near total disconnect between Indian activists and the Native American population on this issue." An Indian activist commented on the results saying "that Native Americans' self-esteem has fallen so low that they don't even know when they're being insulted."
In 2004, a poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania had a similar result to the Sports Illustrated poll's findings, concluding that 91% of the 768 American Indians surveyed in the 48 states on the mainland USA found the name "Redskins" acceptable.
The possible flaw in random and anonymous polls of Native American's opinion is that they must rely upon self-identification to select the target group. In an editorial in the Bloomington Herald Times, Steve Russell (an enrolled Cherokee citizen and associate professor of criminal justice at Indiana University), states that both SI and Annenberg's samples of "self-identified Native Americans... includes plenty of people who have nothing to do with Indians". The problem of individuals claiming to be Native American when they are not is well-known in academic research, and is a particular problem when non-natives claim Indian identity specifically to gain authority in the debate over sports mascots.
Financial impact of change 
Many supporters of Native American mascots feel that the financial cost of changing mascots would far outweigh the benefits. Sales of merchandise with team mascots and nicknames ranging from t-shirts to beer cozies generate millions of dollars in sales each year, and teams contend that a change in team mascots would render this merchandise useless. The cost of removing images from uniforms and all other items, which must be paid out of local school funds, is a greater factor for secondary schools.
Opponents, however, are unconcerned with the cost of changing, and view mascots as caricatures of real Indians that do not honor them, but rather trivialize and demean important Indian dances and traditions. Opponents feel that despite the cost of a change in team mascots, it should be done to prevent what they believe is racial stereotyping. Clyde Bellecourt, director of the American Indian Movement stated: "It's the behavior that accompanies all of this that's offensive. The rubber tomahawks, the chicken feather headdresses, people wearing war paint and making these ridiculous war whoops with a tomahawk in one hand and a beer in the other; all of these have significant meaning for us. And the psychological impact it has, especially on our youth, is devastating."
One attempt to affect the use of mascots financially began in 1992 when five Native Americans filed a petition to remove the trademark status of the Washington Redskins team name, which would have allowed sales of branded merchandise without payment of royalties. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in 1999 ruled in favor of the petition and cancelled the trademarks. Following appeals, in 2005 the D.C. Court of Appeals in Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo reversed the cancellation, ruling that there had been insufficient evidence to support the finding of disparagement and holding that the majority of the petitioners were barred by laches from maintaining the suit. On 16 November 2009, the U.S. Supreme Court, refused to hear an appeal from Harjo; however a second case Blackhorse v. Pro-Football, Inc. with younger plaintiffs whose standing is not hindered by laches is now proceeding.
Support for Certain Teams by Individual Tribes 
The NCAA has granted waivers from their mascot policy to five university teams that have obtained official support from individual tribes for the use of their names and images, which is based upon the principle of Tribal Sovereignty, as stated by the NCAI: "In general, NCAI strongly opposes the use of derogatory Native sports mascots. However, in the case where mascots refer to a particular Native nation or nations, NCAI respects the right of individual tribal nations to work with universities and athletic programs to decide how to protect and celebrate their respective tribal heritage.".
Florida State Seminoles 
The Florida State University's use of Seminole imagery for its Florida State Seminoles athletic teams represents a case of an evolution of its relationship with the Seminole Tribe of Florida. The university has worn the nickname "Seminoles" since 1947 and annually crowns a Chief and Princess at Homecoming with Seminole tribe leaders participating as celebrants. Since 1978 home football games have been opened with the entrance of Osceola and Renegade. Florida State University officials disapprove of referring to human figures as 'mascots' and have asked sports writers to cease doing so. Official university statements speak only of using 'symbols', 'nicknames', and 'images' inspired by Seminole tradition.
The question of a nickname for athletic teams arose in 1947 as the Florida State College for Women went co-ed (a status it had actually had before 1905) to become Florida State University. Students voted overwhelmingly for "Seminoles" over alternatives such as "Statesmen" and "Crackers." For the first two decades Seminole athletic teams mostly used stock images based on Hollywood Westerns and American currency. The first human figures seen at games were a gymnastic, back-bending Sammy Seminole (1958–1972) and, briefly and unofficially, a fraternity-house character named Chief Fullabull. Both were portrayed by Euro-American undergraduate students dressed in faux American Indian garb. Leaders of the Seminole Tribe of Florida who attended a basketball game on the campus in 1972 expressed their concerns to university officials regarding the antics of Chief Fullabull. Seminole leaders and university officials agreed on the need for something dignified and more representative of authentic Seminole traditions. Both characters were retired that year.
1978 marked the first appearance of Osceola and Renegade, in which a student portrays the iconic 19th-century Seminole war leader Osceola. Renegade was the name given to his Appaloosa horse. The student, chosen for his horsemanship, wears clothing provided by the Seminole tribe but is not necessarily of native American descent himself. At the beginning of each home game Osceola plants a flaming spear at midfield. The image and actions of this figure were worked out in coordination with Florida Seminole leaders. Osceola never speaks or appears walking on foot. When the US national anthem is sung, Osceola simply waits with his spear across his lap. For the first three years of the tradition the figure actually went nameless; he was referred to as 'the Seminole warrior' because tribal leaders at the time preferred that the name of the actual historical figure not be used. The Florida State portrayal of Osceola romanticizes tradition in some aspects. The historical Osceola, a war leader, did not actually live long enough to attain the rank of Seminole "chief". Florida State does not sanction the use of that term, and refers to the symbols simply as "Osceola and Renegade". Historians debate how much inclination or opportunity Osceola had to ride horses in wartime.
The Seminole Tribe of Florida officially sanctions the use of the Seminole as Florida State University’s nickname and of Osceola as FSU's symbol. Max Osceola, the chief and general council president of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, has stated that he regards it as an “honor” to be associated with the university.
However, the Seminole Tribe of Florida is only one of the tribal authorities representing Seminoles. Activists Michael Haney and David Narcomey, general council member of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, objected to FSU's use of the Seminole symbol and name, and acting independently of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, filed a complaint with the NCAA. David Narcomey, speaking on his own behalf, stated "I am deeply appalled, incredulously disappointed ... I am nauseated that the NCAA is allowing this 'minstrel show' to carry on this form of racism in the 21st century." The NCAA, in response, placed FSU on a list of colleges using imagery “hostile or abusive” towards Native Americans.
In response, Jennifer McBee, the Oklahoma Seminole tribe's attorney general, stated that while David Narcomey was a member of the Oklahoma Seminoles' General Council, he did not speak for the 14,000-member Seminole Nation of Oklahoma when he protested to NCAA officials about FSU's use of the Seminole name and image. McBee added that the NCAA never even asked the General Council for its opinion. Attorney General McBee stated that, as of June 2005, the council had taken no official position on the FSU issue. Despite the opinions expressed by Haney and Narcomey, Ken Chambers, principal chief of the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma told The Palm Beach (Florida) Post in August 2005 that he had no objection to Florida State University using the Seminoles as a nickname and symbol, reversing the earlier public position of the Oklahoma tribe's spokesperson. In July 2005, the Seminole Nation General Council, the legislative body for the Seminole Nation of Oklahoma, voted 18-2 not to oppose the use of Native American names and mascots by college sports teams.
In August 2005 the NCAA granted a waiver to the Florida State University which removed it from the NCAA’s list of colleges using imagery “hostile or abusive” towards Native Americans. According to Bernard Franklin, senior vice president of the NCAA: "The staff review committee noted the unique relationship between the university and the Seminole Tribe of Florida as a significant factor. The decision of a namesake sovereign tribe, regarding when and how its name and imagery can be used, must be respected even when others may not agree."
Other Exceptions: Granted or Denied 
Other Indian tribes have also supported the use of their tribal names as a tribute to their heritage. The Ute tribe approved the use of the name "Utes" for the University of Utah and the NCAA granted a waiver to allow the name to remain.
The Central Michigan University nickname, the Chippewas, was originally placed on the “hostile or abusive” list but was removed when the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Nation of Michigan gave its support to the nickname.
The University of North Dakota's former athletic logo, a Native American figure, was recently dropped. Due to the NCAA's perception that the term "Fighting Sioux" and the accompanying logo are offensive to native Americans, the NCAA pressured the university to discontinue use of the logo. When UND moved in the fall of 2009 to change its nickname, one of the two Sioux tribal councils in the state sued to have the name retained.
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, however, is permitted to use the name "Illini" owing to the NCAA ruling that the name "is closely related to the name of the state and not directly associated with Native Americans." The term Fighting Illini is in fact a reference to veterans from Illinois who fought during World War I. The symbol Chief Illiniwek was ruled "hostile and abusive" and was retired in 2007 to comply with the NCAA's ruling, and the following year, in compliance with a related NCAA ruling, both U of I and Northwestern University retired their then-current rivalry trophy, the Sweet Sioux Tomahawk.
The College of William & Mary, founded in 1693 with a charter to, among other things, educate and evangelize the native population, voluntarily changed its sports nickname from "Indians" to the "Tribe" in the late 1970's. However, the NCAA forced the school to remove the two tribal feathers stemming from their logo in 2006 due to "insensitivity" towards Native Americans. The fact that the local Pamunkey and Mattaponi tribes supported the College's use of the feathers was not enough for the NCAA.
Current status 
After decades of decline from over 3,000, there remain less than 1,000 local, university and professional teams that continue to have Native American mascots. Though changes have been made at the high school and college levels, at the professional level there has been virtually no change. The topic remains an issue on a national level, with a hearing before the US Senate Committee on Indian Affairs in 2011, and a symposium at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in 2013.
See also 
- List of sports team names and mascots derived from Indigenous peoples
- List of ethnic sports team and mascot names (all ethnicities)
- Occurrence of Religious Symbolism in U.S. Sports Team Names and Mascots
- Vernon Bellecourt
- Charlene Teters
- Russell Means
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Further reading 
- King, C. Richard, guest editor. "Re/claiming Indianness: Critical Perspectives on Native American Mascots." Journal of Sport and Social Issues 28, no. 1 (February 2004). www.sagepub.com/ejournals
- King, C. Richard, and Charles Fruehling Springwood (2001). Beyond the Cheers: Race as Spectacle in College Sport. SUNY Series on Sport, Culture, and Social Relations. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-5005-8.
- King, C. Richard, and Charles Fruehling Springwood, eds. (2001). Team Spirits: The Native American Mascots Controversy. Foreword by Vine Deloria Jr. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
- American Indian Sports Team Mascots
- National Coalition on Racism in Sports and Media
- Honor Indians Institute
- In Whose Honor? (1997). Written and produced by Jay Rosenstein. Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey: New Day Films.