Atlanta Braves – Indian Mascots are Defiling a Race and Religions
Tim Giago is the founder of the Lakota Times, the first independently-owned Native American newspaper in the United States. Giago was a guest on an episode of the Oprah Winfrey Show in 1992 in which he addressed the use of Indian mascots in American sports.
Beyond naming a football team after the color of race’s skin, Tim Giago pointed out that the use of pipes, eagle feathers, and face paint are all sacred and are rooted in tribal religious customs. When sports teams and their fans engage in playing dress-up and dancing around the stadium chanting in a stereotypical fashion, not only are they defiling their race, but their “very old and deep spirituality” is also being defiled.
The issue with Ryan Helsley in the 2019 postseason was not the first time the Braves have heard such arguments against the chop. The team implemented the chop during their 1991 run to the World Series and have faced protests and pressure to stop ever since.
During the 1995 World Series, the Atlanta Braves defeated the Cleveland Indians in what Native American groups deemed the “World Series of Racism.”
Protestors utilized several tactics in an attempt to simply get the fans to understand their perspectives. The protestors routinely had beer dumped on them, they were told to “get a job,” and were spat on.
During the 1995 World Series, some of the American Indian protestors even took to such extremes as dressing up as other offensive stereotypes. Some dressed in blackface, one was dressed as a stereotypical Jewish man with bags of money, some dressed as Ku Klux Klansmen, and some dressed were dressed as nuns and even the Pope.
One of the organizers of the protest was Michael Haney, he said they were not trying to offend anyone with their demonstrations, they were trying to get a message across. Haney continued,
"“If they do get offended, maybe that’s good. They will understand our feelings.”"
Terry Green, a Sioux Indian who lived in Minneapolis during the ’91 World Series told the Sun-Sentinal in 1991:
"“I don’t want our people to be degraded any more than we have been already. These things — the chanting, the headdresses, they’re a part of our culture, a part of our ceremonies. It’s about time we’re taking a stand.”"