List of sports team names and mascots derived from indigenous peoples

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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 Montreal Canadiens, and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, these are names selected by groups to represent themselves.

Globally, there are teams in Africa and Europe that use Native American images and logos, while in South America there are a number of teams that reference the Guaraní people. In Brazil, these teams may be referred to using the derogatory term bugre.[1]

The rise of Indigenous rights movements has led to controversy regarding the continuation of practices rooted in colonialism.[2] Such practices maintain the power relationship between the dominant culture and the Indigenous culture, and can be seen as a form of cultural imperialism.[3] Such practices are seen as particularly harmful in schools and universities, which have the stated purpose of promoting ethnic diversity and inclusion.[4] 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).[5] In a few states with significant Native American populations, change has been mandated by law, such in Maine,[6] 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".[16] The Danville Braves are changing names for 2021 season in the Appalachian League.[17]

Affiliates of the Atlanta Braves:

Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Affiliate of the Colorado Rockies:


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

Ice hockey[edit]

Indoor soccer[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).

Team 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.
Brooklin Redmen Major Series Lacrosse Whitby, Ontario 2019 Brooklin Lacrosse Club
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 Sock Puppets Changed affiliation from Cleveland Indians to Kansas City Royals.
Canton/Akron Indians Minor League Baseball Akron, Ohio 1996 Akron Aeros
Akron Rubber Ducks
Former farm team for the Cleveland Indians.
Cleveland Indians Major League Baseball Cleveland, Ohio 2021 Cleveland Guardians Were known as the Cleveland Indians from 1915–2021. Officially became the Cleveland Guardians on November 19, 2021.[21]
Cleveland Indians (1921) National Football League Cleveland, Ohio Defunct
Cleveland Indians (1931) National Football League Cleveland, Ohio Defunct
Danville Braves Minor League Baseball Danville, Virginia 2020 Appalachian League, including Danville baseball club, no longer affiliated with Atlanta Braves.[22]
Duluth Eskimos National Football League Duluth, Minnesota 1927 Defunct Also known as the Duluth "Kelleys".
Edmonton Eskimos Canadian Football League Edmonton, Alberta 2021 Edmonton Elks Renamed as the Edmonton Elks in 2021.[23][24]
Exeter Chiefs Premiership Rugby (Rugby union) Exeter, Devon, England 2022 NA Keeping their name, but American Indian logo replaced by an image that reflects Celtic origins.[25]
Flint Indians Michigan Baseball League Flint, Michigan 1941 N/A
Frölunda Indians Swedish Hockey League Gothenburg, Sweden 2021 Frolunda HC Renamed as Frolunda HC in 2021.[26]
Golden State Warriors National Basketball Association Oakland, California 1971 N/A Originally Philadelphia Warriors, then San Francisco Warriors, dropped Indian imagery when they moved 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.[27]
Indios de Ciudad Juarez Minor League Baseball Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico 1984 Defunct
Indios de Ciudad Juarez Liga de Expansión MX Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, Mexico 2011 Dissolved
Johnstown Chiefs ECHL Johnstown, Pennsylvania 2010 Dissolved Changed to Greenville Road Warriors, 2015 changed to Greenville Swamp Rabbits
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 N/A Replaced by the Carolina Mudcats.
Mexico City Aztecas Continental Basketball Association Mexico City Defunct Only one season: 1994-95.
Oorang Indians National Football League LaRue, Ohio 1923 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.
Portland Chinooks International Basketball League Portland, Oregon 2014 Folded
Portland Winterhawks Western Hockey League Portland, Oregon 2021 N/A Name retained, but Native American logo replaced by Hawk.[28]
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.
St. Regis Indians Major Series Lacrosse Akwesasne 2009 Folded
Streatham Redskins NIHL South Division 1 London, England 2016 Streatham Ice Hockey Club
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.[29]
Syracuse Chiefs Minor League Baseball Syracuse, New York 2019 Syracuse Mets New York Mets ownership drop the "Chiefs" name for 2019 season.[30]
Toronto Tecumsehs National Hockey Association Toronto, Ontario 1913 Toronto Ontarios Renamed the Toronto Shamrocks in 1915 and ceased operations later that year.
Tri-Cities "Blackhawks" National Basketball Association Moline, Illinois 1951 Atlanta Hawks Team was also the Milwaukee & St. Louis "Hawks".
Washington Redskins National Football League Landover, Maryland (Home Field) and Ashburn, Virginia (Headquarters) 2020 Washington Commanders Washington Football Team served as the interim team name for two years until February 2, 2022, when the new name "Commanders" was officially chosen.[31] Also see Washington Redskins name controversy.

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[71]

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. ^ Calum Trenaman (January 18, 2021). "Global sport's problem with the appropriation of Indigenous culture".
  2. ^ 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.
  3. ^ 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.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ "Anti-Defamation and Mascots". National Congress of American Indians. Retrieved 12 January 2013.
  6. ^ Hauser, Christine (2019-05-22). "Maine Just Banned Native American Mascots. It's a Movement That's Inching Forward". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-08-21.
  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". 30 April 2012. Retrieved November 15, 2014.
  16. ^ The Canadian Press (November 28, 2016). "Innisfail Baseball Team Changes Name From 'Indians' To 'Trappers'". The Huffington Post.
  17. ^ "MLB, USA Baseball announce new format for Appalachian League". September 29, 2020.
  18. ^ Reyes, Lorenzo. "Indianapolis Indians will keep team nickname, partner with local Native American tribe". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2023-02-23.
  19. ^ "Affiliate Dance: 2020". Ballpark Digest. 26 May 2009. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  20. ^ Liam Britten (September 7, 2017). "Chilliwack hockey team retires 'inappropriate' mascot Chief Wannawin". CBC News.
  21. ^ Bell, Mandy (November 19, 2021). "Guardians era officially arrives in Cleveland". Retrieved November 19, 2021.
  22. ^ Reichard, Kevin (December 9, 2020). "Fresno agrees to Cal League move; 120-team MiLB lineup complete". Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  23. ^ Esks Staff (July 21, 2020). "Edmonton Football Team Discontinues Use Of The Name Eskimos". CFL Enterprises LP. Retrieved July 23, 2020.
  24. ^ Snowdon, Wallis (1 June 2021). "Edmonton Elks: CFL club announces new name". CBC News. Retrieved 14 July 2021.
  25. ^ "Chiefs reveal new visual identity". Exeter Chiefs. January 27, 2022.
  26. ^ "Swedish ice hockey club to drop Native American logo". Reuters. September 17, 2020.
  27. ^ Cory McCartney (December 8, 2017). "Braves' Triple-A affiliate rebranded as Gwinnett Stripers". FOX Sports South. Retrieved December 9, 2017.
  28. ^ Jared Cowley (July 14, 2021). "'It's time to take a step forward': Portland Winterhawks replace Native American logo and mascot". KGW.
  29. ^ "Swift Current, Sask., baseball team reveals new name for 'Indians':Sask. team rebranding follows similar decision in Alberta". CBC News. January 10, 2017.
  30. ^ Speddon, Zach (October 16, 2018). "New for 2019: Syracuse Mets". Ballpark Digest. Retrieved February 1, 2021.
  31. ^ Keim, John (February 2, 2022). "Washington selects Commanders as new NFL team name after two-season process". Retrieved February 2, 2022.
  32. ^ "Dornbirn Indians". Retrieved December 16, 2016.
  33. ^ Skokie Indians, Illinois
  34. ^ "RPLL: Redskins". Retrieved 25 June 2016.
  35. ^ Albemarle Redskins Virginia
  36. ^ Antioch Redskins Archived 2015-10-13 at the Wayback Machine
  37. ^ Bennetts Creek Warriors
  38. ^ Derby Red Raiders, CT
  39. ^ "East Bay Warriors, Oakland CA". Archived from the original on 2013-12-16. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  40. ^ Fort Braden Chiefs, FL
  41. ^ Phoenix, AZ
  42. ^ Immokalee Seminoles, FL
  43. ^ Lower Sussex Indians, DE
  44. ^ "Nonnewaug Chiefs, CT". Archived from the original on 2014-01-04. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  45. ^ Oak Cliff Redskins
  46. ^ Pomperaug Warriors, CT
  47. ^ Reynolds Corner Redskins, Toledo OH
  48. ^ Southeast Apaches, San Antonio, Texas
  49. ^ Southland Comanches, CO
  50. ^ Stratford Redskin, CT
  51. ^ Water Oak Indians, CT
  52. ^ Western Albemarle Chiefs
  53. ^ Willamette Redskins, Eugene OR
  54. ^ "Antioch Redskins, Plant City, Florida".
  55. ^ CLCF Chiefs
  56. ^ DeRon Talley (November 15, 2012). "D'ville Redskins headed to the Superbowl". The Donaldsonville Chief.
  57. ^ Fauquier Youth Football, Fauquier County, Virginia
  58. ^ Grayling Redskins Youth Football
  59. ^ Kanawha Youth Football Redskins, Richmond, Virginia
  60. ^ Loudon Redskins Youth Football, Loudon, Tennessee
  61. ^ Patterson Redskins Football Archived 2014-12-18 at the Wayback Machine
  62. ^ Rochester Redskins, Rochester, Michigan
  63. ^ "Local Redskins youth league not feeling pressure to change name". WWSB. June 19, 2014.
  64. ^ South Cherokee Football and Cheer
  65. ^ Southwest Redskins, Houston, Texas
  66. ^ Sterling Heights Redskins
  67. ^ Vienna Youth Inc.
  68. ^ Washington Redskins Midget Football, Washington, New Jersey
  69. ^ Woonsocket Redskins Youth Football & Cheerleading
  70. ^ "Couple calls on Ontario government to ban Indigenous logos, mascots in schools". CBC News Ottawa. May 22, 2017. Retrieved 26 May 2017.
  71. ^ "Little Redskins". Archived from the original on 2015-08-12. Retrieved 2013-10-15.