List of sports team names and mascots derived from indigenous peoples

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Many sports teams have names or mascots derived from peoples that are indigenous to the region where the team is also located. There is not total agreement on the definition of indigenous peoples, but there are some criteria used by the United Nations[1] and the International Labour Organization:[2]

  • People descended from the pre-colonial/pre-invasion inhabitants of a region.
  • People that continue to have a distinct language or culture with close ties to the land.
  • People who suffer economic and political marginalization as a minority group.
  • People who identify themselves as indigenous.

This definition in international law is not identical to the American English dictionary definition of the word indigenous, which is broad enough to include native and born as synonyms.[3] The additional criteria of a people both colonized or invaded and reduced to a marginalized minority is however part of the current majority understanding of the terms First Nations, Native American and Indigenous peoples of the Americas as referring to the decedents of pre-colonial peoples of the Americas, not everyone born there. There are team names derived from non-indigenous peoples, such as the Boston Celtics, the University of Notre Dame "Fighting Irish" and the Minnesota Vikings (the latter name was selected in reference to the Scandinavian settlers of that region), none of which belong on this list. The Irish and other ethnic groups in America were sometimes subject to marginalization, but not colonization. Colonization of the Celtic peoples in their native lands by the English did occur, but lies outside of the scope of this article.[4]

While the history of colonization and marginalization is not unique to the Americas, the practice of deriving sports team names, imagery, and mascots from indigenous peoples is a significant phenomena in the United States and Canada. The rise of indigenous rights movements in these counties has also led to controversy regarding the continuation of practices rooted in colonialism.[5] Such practices maintain the power relationship between the dominant culture and the indigenous culture, and can be seen as a form of cultural imperialism.[6] Such practices are seen as particularly harmful in schools and universities, which have the a stated purpose of promoting ethnic diversity and inclusion.[7] 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. In other former colonies in Asia, Africa and South America, the adoption of indigenous names for majority indigenous teams is also found.

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).[8] In a few states with significant Native American populations, change has been mandated by law, such in Wisconsin,[9] Oregon,[10] and Washington.[11][12] The list below for U.S. High Schools however remains substantial, with over 400 teams currently calling themselves "Indians", over 100 "Braves", 74 "Warriors" using indigenous imagery (there are many with the name but using generic, Greek or Roman mascots), and 54 "Redskins".


Professional teams[edit]

Current usage[edit]

American football[edit]

  • Garland Aztecs, Garland, Texas - Semi-Pro
  • Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) - While adopting Native American imagery, the team was named in honor of Kansas City mayor Harold Roe Bartle who was instrumental in bringing the AFL Dallas Texans to Kansas City, MO in 1963 (becoming the last professional team to adopt an indigenous-derived name). Bartel earned his nickname as founder of a Boy Scouts honor camping society Tribe of Mic-O-Say in which he was "Chief" Lone Bear. In 1989 the Chiefs switched from Warpaint, a Pinto horse ridden by a man in a feathered headdress, to their current mascot K. C. Wolf. Warpaint returned in 2009, but is ridden by a cheerleader.[13]
  • Southern California Apaches - (Semi-Pro, United Football Alliance League)
  • Washington Redskins (NFL) See also: Washington Redskins name controversy

Association football (soccer)[edit]




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

Australian rules football[edit]

All of these teams are composed of Indigenous Australians


Major league[edit]
  • Atlanta Braves (Atlanta, Georgia) - originally Boston Braves, then Milwaukee Braves. The mascot Chief Noc-A-Homa existed until 1983 season, Princess Win-A-Lotta was introduced late 1970s, dropped at same time as Noc-A-Homa. In 1991 the Braves adopted the Tomahawk Chop from Florida State University when Deion Sanders joined the team.[14]
  • Cleveland Indians (Cleveland, Ohio) - Receives the most attention due to its mascot, Chief Wahoo. While the origin of the name is sometimes attributed to Louis Sockalexis from the Penobscot tribe having played for the team, documentary evidence indicates otherwise.[15]
Further information: Major League Baseball
Further information: Liga Mexicana del Pacífico
Minor league[edit]

Affiliates of the Atlanta Braves: (An additional affiliate is the Lynchburg Hillcats)

Affiliate of the Cleveland Indians:

Affiliate of the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Affiliate of the Texas Rangers:


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

Canadian football[edit]


Ice hockey[edit]

Lacrosse (Canada)[edit]

Motorcycle Racing[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 NA 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 NA, 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
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 NA Only one season 1994-95
Oorang Indians National Football League NA, 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.
Peoria Chiefs Minor League Baseball Peoria, Illinois NA Adopted their name from a 1950s team, but did not use indigenous imagery, instead using imagery related to firefighters.[17]
Salisbury Indians Minor League Baseball Salisbury, Maryland NA Defunct
Syracuse Chiefs Minor League Baseball Syracuse, New York First Became the "SkyChiefs" with a train Logo, then reverted to the old name while retaining the new logo.
Springfield Indians American Hockey League Peoria, Illinois Rivermen First moved to Worcester and became the IceCats
Toronto Tecumsehs National Hockey Association Toronto, Ontario 1913 Toronto Ontarios renamed the Toronto Shamrocks in 1915 and ceased operations later that year

Amateur and school teams[edit]

Colleges and universities[edit]

In 2005 the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) distributed a "self evaluation" to 31 colleges for teams to examine the use of potentially offensive imagery with their mascot choice.[18] 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.[19]

Schools that removed all references to Native American culture or were deemed not to have references to Native American culture as part of their athletics programs:

Schools granted waivers to retain their nicknames after gaining support from those respective tribes.

Non-NCAA Schools

Current Usage[edit]

Prior Usage[edit]

Old Name School City, State Year Changed New Name Notes
Apaches Illinois Valley Community College Oglesby, Illinois 2001 Eagle
Apaches Southwestern College Chula Vista, California 2001 Jaguars Community College
Beothuk Memorial University of Newfoundland St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada 1987 Sea-Hawks The Beothuk aboriginal peoples went extinct in 1829 and the university deemed the use of the Beothuk name to be offensive
Braves Bradley University Peoria, Illinois While the nickname has never changed, all Native American imagery has been removed. The logo is now a block B and the mascot is a gargoyle.
Braves Chowan University Murfreesboro, North Carolina 2006 Hawks
Braves Husson College Bangor, Maine 2004 Eagles [27]
Braves University of West Georgia Carrollton, Georgia 2006 Wolves
Braves Seneca College Toronto, Ontario 1999-2000 The Sting
Braves Quinnipiac University Hamden, Connecticut 2002 Bobcats
Brown Indians/Squaws St. Bonaventure University Allegany (town), New York 1979 Bonnies
Chief Ouabache Indiana State University Terre Haute, Indiana 1989 N/A The team name was always the Sycamores; Chief Ouabache and "Indian Princess" were the on-field mascots.
Chiefs Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Stars
Chiefs Springfield College Springfield, Massachusetts 1995 Pride Change was made voluntarily without protest on either side.[28]
Chiefs University of Massachusetts Lowell, Massachusetts 1991 River Hawks Change occurred with merger of University of Lowell into the UMass system
Chieftains Seattle University Seattle, Washington Redhawks "H" is NOT capitalized here, unlike the case with Miami's nickname.
Chieftains Stonehill College Easton, Massachusetts Skyhawks
Fighting Illini University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, Illinois 2007 Old name was retained as referring to the state[29] Chief Illiniwek has been officially retired, but is widely used by students and fans
Fighting Sioux University of North Dakota Grand Forks, North Dakota See Notes Fighting Hawks The "Fighting Sioux" nickname was retired in 2012, but the state passed a law prohibiting the university from adopting a new nickname until January 2015. In November of that year, following two rounds of fan voting, the current nickname of Fighting Hawks was chosen and immediately adopted. For more information, see North Dakota Fighting Sioux controversy.
Hurons Eastern Michigan University Ypsilanti, Michigan 1991 Eagles The mascot is "Swoop"
Indians Adams State University Alamosa, Colorado Grizzlies
Indians Arkansas State University Jonesboro, Arkansas Red Wolves
Indians Catawba College Salisbury, North Carolina Catawba Indians Approved by the Catawba Tribe
Indians University of the Cumberlands Williamsburg, Kentucky 2002 Patriots Originally Cumberland College, name changed 2005
Indians Dartmouth College Hanover, New Hampshire 1970s Big Green Indians was not official
Indians Midwestern State University Wichita Falls, Texas 2006 Mustangs
Indians McMurry University Abilene, Texas 2006 War Hawks
Indians University of Louisiana at Monroe Monroe, Louisiana 2006 Warhawks "Chief Brave Spirit" mascot also retired
Indians Indiana University of Pennsylvania Indiana County, Pennsylvania 2007 Crimson Hawks
Indians Newberry College South Carolina 2008 Wolves
Indians Stanford University Stanford, California 1972 Cardinals The nickname was changed to the current "Cardinal" in 1981, which reflects the school color, a shade of red
Indians Siena College Loudonville, New York 1988 Saints
Indians College of William & Mary Williamsburg, Virginia 1978 Tribe Mascot is the Griffin
Indians and Otahkians Southeast Missouri State University Cape Girardeau, Missouri 2004 Redhawks
Mohawks Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts North Adams, Massachusetts Trailblazers
Plainsmen Nebraska Wesleyan University Lincoln, Nebraska Prairie Wolves
Red Raiders Colgate University Hamilton (village), New York Raiders
Redmen Carthage College Kenosha, Wisconsin Red Men/Lady Reds
Redmen University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) Amherst, Massachusetts 1972 Minutemen and Minutewomen According to the University Redmen referred to the color of uniforms worn by the athletics teams
Redmen Northeastern State University Tahlequah, Oklahoma RiverHawks Founded as the Cherokee National Female Seminary
Redmen St. John's University New York City 1995 Red Storm The school's website indicates that the name did not refer to American Indians, but to the school color, a bright cardinal red. However, some athletics logos used an Indian character as late as the 1980s.
Redmen and Lady Reds Simpson College Indianola, Iowa 1992 The Storm
Redmen and Redwomen University of Rio Grande Rio Grande, Ohio 2008 RedStorm
Redskins Miami University Oxford, Ohio 1997 RedHawks
Redskins Southern Nazarene University Bethany, Oklahoma Crimson Storm
Saltine Warrior Syracuse University Syracuse, New York Orange
Savages Dickinson State University Dickinson, North Dakota 1972 Blue Hawks
Savages Eastern Washington University Cheney, Washington 1973 Eagles
Savages Southeastern Oklahoma State University Durant, Oklahoma 2006 Savage Storm
Warriors Hartwick College Oneonta, New York 1994 Hawks
Warriors Marquette University Milwaukee, Wisconsin 1994 Golden Eagles Retired the mascot "Willie Wampum" in 1971[30]
Zias Eastern New Mexico University Portales, New Mexico 2015 Greyhounds The women's teams are reverting to the name used prior to the 1970s, which is the same as the men's teams.[31]

High schools[edit]

Current usage[edit]

The following high schools are listed in alphabetical order by team name:

Big Reds[edit]
Blackhawks / Black Hawk[edit]

Most of the schools with the name use a bird logo, therefore are not directly derived from an indigenous people although there may be an indirect reference to Chief Black Hawk. The following do use Native American images/symbols.

Dine' Warriors[edit]
Eskimos or Eskymos[edit]
Indian / Indians / Indian Arrows[edit]
  • Monache High School, Porterville, California - There is a large mural of a Native American on the side of the school's gym, created by Adam Sanchez, class of 2002. This refers to the high school's mascot, the "Marauder."
Red Raiders/Raiders[edit]
Further information: Non-NFL Redskins sports teams

A number of schools with the name "Warriors" never used indigenous imagery, or changed in response to the controversy. An example of the latter is the Hall High School (Connecticut) which dropped its Indian logo in 2012.[92]

Prior usage[edit]

General William J. Palmer High School, Colorado Springs, Colorado - Did not change the name "Terrors", but the original mascot was a caricature of a Native American called "Eagle Beak", replaced in 1985 with an Eagle (the bird).

Former Redskins[edit]

With the passage of a law on October 11, 2015 the schools in California will have until January 1, 2017 to change their name.[110]

Previous changes:

Middle school[edit]

  • Antioch Redskins of Plant City, FL, Youth Football[138]
  • Carey Junior High School, Cheyenne, Wyoming (Braves)
  • Dearborn Heights Redskins Jr. Football, Dearborn Heights, MI[139]
  • Gaffney Middle School, Gaffney, South Carolina (Chiefs)
  • Gettysburg Area Middle School Braves
  • Granard Middle School, Gaffney, South Carolina (Warriors)
  • Grayling Redskins Youth Football, Grayling, MI[140]
  • J.D. Meisler Middle School, Metairie, Louisiana (Chiefs)
  • James Madison Middle School, Titusville, Florida (Mohawks)
  • Knox Redskins, Knox, Indiana
  • Lakeview Middle School, Rossville, Georgia (Warriors)
  • Lancaster Junior Redskins, Lancaster (village), NY[141]
  • McCormick Junior High School, Cheyenne, Wyoming (Warriors)
  • Morden Redskins, South Eastern Manitoba Hockey League (amateur adult)[142]
  • Morris, IL – Little Redskins IKWF sanctioned wrestling club (K-8th grade) Uses a version of the DC team logo[143]
  • New Rock Redskins, Conyers, GA (Ages 6–12) Uses the DC team logo[144]
  • Orangeview J.H.S (Buena Park, CA) Warriors
  • Ohio Redskins Youth Sports (age 4-14), Columbus, OH[145]
  • Patterson Redskins Football (youth) Patterson, CA[146]
  • Pocahontas Middle School, Powhatan County, Virginia (Squaws)
  • Rochester Redskins, Rochester Hills, MI[147]
  • Sarasota Redskins Youth Football, Sarasota, FL (age 4-14)[148]
  • South Cherokee Recreation Association (SCRA) Youth Footfall, Woodstock, GA Uses the DC team logo[149]
  • Sterling Heights Redskins, Sterling Heights, MI (youth) Uses the DC team logo[150]
  • Stonybrook Redskins, Indianapolis, IN
  • Wayland Redskins, Wayland, NY (Youth Football ages 6–12)[151]
  • Woonsocket Redskins, Woonsocket, RI – Youth Football (K-9th grade) Uses the DC team logo[152]

Pop Warner Football League[edit]

Further information: Pop Warner Little Scholars

Little league baseball[edit]

Youth/Little league football[edit]

Junior League Lacrosse (Canada)[edit]


Youth football (England)[edit]

Fictional teams[edit]

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


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  138. ^ Antioch Redskins
  139. ^ Dearborn Heights Redskins Jr. Football
  140. ^ Grayling Redskins Youth Football
  141. ^ Lancaster Junior Redskins
  142. ^ Morden Redskins
  143. ^ Little Redskins
  144. ^ New Rock Redskins
  145. ^ Ohio Redskins Youth Sports
  146. ^ Patterson Redskins Football
  147. ^ Rochester Redskins
  148. ^ Sarasota Redskins
  149. ^ South Cherokee Recreation Association
  150. ^ Sterling Heights Redskins
  151. ^ Wayland Redskins
  152. ^ Woonsocket Redskins
  153. ^ Albemarle Redskins Virginia
  154. ^ Bennetts Creek Warriors
  155. ^ Derby Red Raiders, CT
  156. ^ East Bay Warriors, Oakland CA
  157. ^ Fort Braden Chiefs, FL
  158. ^ Immokalee Seminoles, FL
  159. ^ Lower Sussex Indians, DE
  160. ^ Nonnewaug Chiefs, CT
  161. ^ [4]
  162. ^ Phoenix, AZ
  163. ^ Pomperaug Warriors, CT
  164. ^ Reynolds Corner Redskins, Toledo OH
  165. ^ Southeast Apaches, San Antonio, Texas
  166. ^ Southland Comanches, CO
  167. ^ Stratford Redskin, CT
  168. ^ Water Oak Indians , CT
  169. ^ Western Albemarle Chiefs
  170. ^ Willamette Redskins, Eugene OR
  171. ^ Skokie Indians, Illinois
  172. ^ "Antioch Redskins, Plant City, Florida". 
  173. ^ DeRon Talley (November 15, 2012). "D'ville Redskins headed to the Superbowl". The Donaldsonville Chief. 
  174. ^ Fauquier Youth Football, Fauquier County, Virginia
  175. ^ [5]
  176. ^ Kanawha Youth Football Redskins, Richmond, Virginia
  177. ^ Loudon Redskins Youth Football, Loudon, Tennessee
  178. ^ [6]
  179. ^ Rochester Redskins, Rochester, Michigan
  180. ^ "Local Redskins youth league not feeling pressure to change name". WWSB. June 19, 2014. 
  181. ^ [7]
  182. ^ South Cherokee Redskins Association, Woodstock, Georgia
  183. ^ Southwest Redskins, Houston, Texas
  184. ^ Washington Redskins Midget Football, Washington, New Jersey