List of sports team names and mascots derived from indigenous peoples

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While the history of colonization and marginalization[1][2] is not unique to the Americas, the practice of deriving sports team names, imagery, and mascots from indigenous peoples of North America is a significant phenomenon in the United States and Canada. The popularity of the American Indian in global culture has led to a number of teams in Europe also adopting team names derived from Native Americans. In Asia, Africa, Australia and South America, the adoption of indigenous names generally indicates that the team members are themselves indigenous. While there are team names in North America derived from other ethnic groups, such as the Boston Celtics, the New York Yankees, the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and the Minnesota Vikings, these are names selected by immigrant/settler groups to represent themselves.

The rise of indigenous rights movements has led to controversy regarding the continuation of practices rooted in colonialism.[3] Such practices maintain the power relationship between the dominant culture and the indigenous culture, and can be seen as a form of cultural imperialism.[4] Such practices are seen as particularly harmful in schools and universities, which have the a stated purpose of promoting ethnic diversity and inclusion.[5] In recognition of the responsibility of higher education to eliminate behaviors that creates a hostile environment for education, in 2005 the NCAA initiated a policy against "hostile and abusive" names and mascots that led to the change of many derived from Native American culture, with the exception of those that established an agreement with particular tribes for the use of their specific names. Other schools retain their names because they were founded for the education of Native Americans, and continue to have a significant number of indigenous students.

The trend towards the elimination of indigenous names and mascots in local schools has been steady, with two thirds having been eliminated over the past 50 years according to the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).[6] In a few states with significant Native American populations, change has been mandated by law, such in Wisconsin,[7] Oregon,[8] and Washington.[9][10]

Little League International has updated its 2019 rulebook to include a statement prohibiting "the use of team names, mascots, nicknames or logos that are racially insensitive, derogatory or discriminatory in nature."[11] This decision has been applauded by the National Congress of American Indians.[12]

Professional/Adult teams[edit]

Current usage[edit]

American football[edit]

American 7s Football League[edit]
  • New Jersey Savage
  • Spanktown Boyz - Uses a Native American wielding a tomahawk as its logo
  • Union City Chiefs

Association football[edit]




  • Colo-Colo, Santiago de Chile. Name relates to the Mapuche
  • Lautaro, Buin. Also called Guerreros de Buín (Warriors Buín)



South Africa

Australian rules football[edit]

All of these teams are composed of Indigenous Australians


Major league[edit]
Minor league[edit]

A Minor league team in Innisfail, Alberta, the "Indians", has made a decision to become the "Trappers".[17]

Affiliates of the Atlanta Braves:

Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Affiliate of the Texas Rangers:


All three existing National Basketball Association teams that previously used indigenous imagery have stopped doing so. (See Prior usage list below).

Canadian football[edit]

Ice hockey[edit]


Rugby union[edit]

Rugby league[edit]


Prior pro usage[edit]

Many professional teams changed because they moved to another city, or went out of business ("Defunct" in table below).

Old Name Sport/League City, State Year Changed New Name Notes
Akron Indians National Football League Akron, Ohio Defunct Akron Pros Changed back to the Indians in 1926, then folded
Tri-Cities "Blackhawks" National Basketball Association Moline, Illinois 1951 Atlanta Hawks Team was also the Milwaukee & St. Louis "Hawks"
Buffalo Braves National Basketball Association Buffalo, New York 1978 Los Angeles Clippers Also the San Diego Clippers
Burlington Indians Minor League Baseball Burlington, North Carolina 2006 Burlington Royals Changed affiliation from Cleveland Indians to Kansas City Royals
Canton/Akron Indians Minor League Baseball Akron, Ohio 1996 Aeros Former farm team for the Cleveland Indians
Cleveland Indians (1921) National Football League Cleveland, Ohio Defunct
Cleveland Indians (1931) National Football League Cleveland, Ohio Defunct
Duluth Eskimos National Football League Duluth, Minnesota 1927 Defunct also known as the Duluth "Kelleys"
Flint Indians Michigan Baseball League Flint, Michigan 1941 NA
Golden State Warriors National Basketball Association Oakland, California 1971 NA Originally Philadelphia Warriors, then San Francisco Warriors, dropped Indian imagery when they move to Oakland
Gwinnett Braves International League Lawrenceville, Georgia 2017 Gwinnett Stripers Originally Richmond Braves, renamed as Gwinnett Braves upon move, rebranded after 2017 season. The Stripers continue to be the Triple-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves.[20]
Indios de Ciudad Juarez Minor League Baseball Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico 1984 Defunct
Kansas City Scouts National Hockey League Kansas City, Missouri 1976 now the New Jersey Devils First moved to Colorado and became the "Rockies"
Kinston Indians Minor League Baseball Kinston, North Carolina 2012 NA replaced by the Carolina Mudcats
Mexico City Aztecas Continental Basketball Association Mexico City Defunct Only one season 1994-95
Oorang Indians National Football League Defunct Consisting mostly of Native Americans
Ottawa Tomahawks National Basketball League of Canada Ottawa 2013 Ottawa SkyHawks Name changed shortly after announced due to controversy, team folded after one season.
Salisbury Indians Minor League Baseball Salisbury, Maryland Defunct
Sheboygan Red Skins Basketball Sheboygan, Wisconsin 1952 Defunct
Springfield Indians American Hockey League Peoria, Illinois Rivermen First moved to Worcester and became the IceCats
Streatham Redskins NIHL South Division 1 London, England 2016 Streatham Ice Hockey Club
Syracuse Chiefs Minor League Baseball Syracuse, New York Changed from Native American logo and name in 1997 to "Skychiefs" with aviation theme and reverted to "Chiefs" in 2007 but with train logo.
Swift Current Indians Western Major Baseball League (East Division) Swift Current, Saskatchewan, Canada 2017 Swift Current 57's The team dropped the "Indians" name in 2016.[21]
Toronto Tecumsehs National Hockey Association Toronto, Ontario 1913 Toronto Ontarios renamed the Toronto Shamrocks in 1915 and ceased operations later that year

Colleges and universities[edit]

Secondary schools[edit]

Non-scholastic youth teams[edit]


Association football[edit]

American football[edit]

Pop Warner Little Scholars[edit]

Youth/Junior football[edit]

Ice Hockey[edit]



  • Little Redskins, Illinois Kids Wrestling Federation (IKWF) sanctioned club (K-8th grade) in Morris, Illinois – Uses a version of the DC team logo[61]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Sources of data on teams/mascots[edit]

  • MaxPreps is a site for U.S. High School sports information, and can be searched by mascot name as well as school name, but the data is not kept up to date so it is only a starting place.
  • MascotDB is a searchable database of mascots from Pro to High School.
  • List of Semi-Pro Football Teams


  1. ^ "Factsheet: Indigenous People, Indigenous Voices" (PDF).
  2. ^ "Who Are Indigenous Peoples". Archived from the original on November 8, 2014. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  3. ^ Pewewardy, Cornel (1999). "From enemy to mascot: The deculturation of Indian mascots in sports culture". Canadian Journal of Native Education. 23 (2): 176–189. ISSN 0710-1481. ProQuest 230304174.
  4. ^ Longwell-Grice, Robert; Hope Longwell-Grice (2003). "Chiefs, Braves, and Tomahawks: The Use of American Indians as University Mascots". NASPA Journal (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators, Inc.). 40 (3): 1–12. doi:10.2202/0027-6014.1255. ISSN 0027-6014.
  5. ^ "Statement of the United States Commission on Civil Rights on the use of Native American images and nicknames as sports symbols". 2001. Retrieved December 10, 2016.
  6. ^ "Anti-Defamation and Mascots". National Congress of American Indians. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  7. ^ Keen, Judy (Oct 7, 2010). "Wis. law lets residents challenge race-based mascots". USA Today.
  8. ^ "State Board of Education Bans Use of Native American Mascots". Oregon State Department of Education. Retrieved February 10, 2013.
  9. ^ Abby Ellin (Sep 29, 2012). "Washington State Wants Schools to Ban Native American Mascots". ABC News. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  10. ^ "2012 Native American Mascot Resolution" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-08-19. Retrieved 2013-09-17.
  11. ^ "Rulebook Update". Little League International. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  12. ^ "NCAI Applauds Decision by Little League International to Ban Racially Offensive Team Names and Mascots". Alaska Native News. January 11, 2019.
  13. ^ "Warpaint". Kansas City Chiefs. Archived from the original on December 14, 2014. Retrieved November 13, 2014.
  14. ^ a b Andrew Keh (May 7, 2018). "Tomahawk Chops and Indian Mascots: In Europe, Teams Don't See a Problem". The New York Times.
  15. ^ "How the Atlanta Braves adopted the tomahawk chop from the Florida State Seminoles". Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  16. ^ Staurowsky, Ellen (December 1998). "An Act of Honor or Exploitation? The Cleveland Indians' Use of the Louis Francis Sockalexis Story". Sociology of Sports Journal. 15 (4): 299. doi:10.1123/ssj.15.4.299.
  17. ^ The Canadian Press (November 28, 2016). "Innisfail Baseball Team Changes Name From 'Indians' To 'Trappers'". The Huffington Post.
  18. ^ Liam Britten (September 7, 2017). "Chilliwack hockey team retires 'inappropriate' mascot Chief Wannawin". CBC News.
  19. ^ Ed Oldfield (August 3, 2016). "Is it time for Exeter Chiefs to bury the tomahawks?". Exeter Express and Echo. Archived from the original on October 10, 2016.
  20. ^ Cory McCartney (December 8, 2017). "Braves' Triple-A affiliate rebranded as Gwinnett Stripers". FOX Sports South. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  21. ^ "Swift Current, Sask., baseball team reveals new name for 'Indians':Sask. team rebranding follows similar decision in Alberta". CBC News. January 10, 2017.
  22. ^ "Dornbirn Indians". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  23. ^ Skokie Indians, Illinois
  24. ^ "RPLL: Redskins". Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  25. ^ Albemarle Redskins Virginia
  26. ^ Antioch Redskins Archived 2015-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
  27. ^ Bennetts Creek Warriors
  28. ^ Derby Red Raiders, CT
  29. ^ "East Bay Warriors, Oakland CA". Archived from the original on 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  30. ^ Fort Braden Chiefs, FL
  31. ^ Phoenix, AZ
  32. ^ Immokalee Seminoles, FL
  33. ^ Lower Sussex Indians, DE
  34. ^ "Nonnewaug Chiefs, CT". Archived from the original on 2014-01-04. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  35. ^ Oak Cliff Redskins
  36. ^ Pomperaug Warriors, CT
  37. ^ Reynolds Corner Redskins, Toledo OH
  38. ^ Southeast Apaches, San Antonio, Texas
  39. ^ Southland Comanches, CO
  40. ^ Stratford Redskin, CT
  41. ^ Water Oak Indians, CT
  42. ^ Western Albemarle Chiefs
  43. ^ Willamette Redskins, Eugene OR
  44. ^ "Antioch Redskins, Plant City, Florida".
  45. ^ CLCF Chiefs
  46. ^ DeRon Talley (November 15, 2012). "D'ville Redskins headed to the Superbowl". The Donaldsonville Chief.
  47. ^ Fauquier Youth Football, Fauquier County, Virginia
  48. ^ Grayling Redskins Youth Football
  49. ^ Kanawha Youth Football Redskins, Richmond, Virginia
  50. ^ Loudon Redskins Youth Football, Loudon, Tennessee
  51. ^ Patterson Redskins Football Archived 2014-12-18 at the Wayback Machine
  52. ^ Rochester Redskins, Rochester, Michigan
  53. ^ "Local Redskins youth league not feeling pressure to change name". WWSB. June 19, 2014.
  54. ^ South Cherokee Football and Cheer
  55. ^ Southwest Redskins, Houston, Texas
  56. ^ Sterling Heights Redskins
  57. ^ Vienna Youth Inc.
  58. ^ Washington Redskins Midget Football, Washington, New Jersey
  59. ^ Woonsocket Redskins Youth Football & Cheerleading
  60. ^ "Couple calls on Ontario government to ban Indigenous logos, mascots in schools". CBC News Ottawa. May 22, 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  61. ^ "Little Redskins". Archived from the original on 2015-08-12. Retrieved 2013-10-15.