Change the Name, Change the Mascot

Kim DeOcampo, Tuolumne Mewuk, Houma-Choctaw Nations

SSPRIT Executive Director


In response to the Napa Valley Register opinion piece, “Indian name is not racist” (Jan. 6).

The author makes the claim the word “Indian” is not racist. The issue here is not the word Indian, it is the continuance of American Indians being used as mascots and the stereotypical images and behaviors that insult us.

The word Indians, Redskins, Warriors, Braves or Chiefs that use our images as mascots disrespect our culture and make a mockery of our headdresses, our regalia and our dances. These things are sacred to us. Indian Mascots treat our history with contempt when a high school football team holds up a banner during a football game saying “Indians go home in a Trail of Tears.” This public school just ridiculed one of the most vicious atrocities in U.S. history.

The privilege of controlling our history, our image, makes the public schools no better than the forced boarding schools of native children that attempted to destroy our culture.

Is this what we want to teach in our public schools – that it is acceptable to have domination over another people’s cultural heritage? This long-standing use of native people as mascots force our native youth to see themselves as tokens with no value. Such practices have become so institutionalized that it becomes difficult to recognize this racism for what it is, and by tolerating these demeaning stereotypes in our schools, we desensitize generations of children.

 I do not know of any native people or native organizations that use the word “Indian” define the word as racist, even though historically we are well aware the word is a misnomer, mistakenly put upon us by Columbus when he was “discovered” lost on our continent.

Indian mascots do nothing to teach the complexity of our history, nor do they connect with the ongoing injustices we face today. In protecting and preserving our religious freedom, sacred sites, ancient burial grounds, land and water rights. With the current situation happening in North Dakota, where the Standing Rock Sioux tribe is being threatened by hyper-militarized police violence and brutality simply for protecting their right to clean water, how can anyone in this day and age think that Indian mascots “honor” us?


It is time to end this “tradition;” our youth deserve much better. Let us all demand better and say no to institutional injustice and inhumane symbolism. Change the name, change the mascot.




Remove the Indian Mascot at Napa High School…

Angel Heart

SSPRIT Secretary & Public Relations Officer

For several decades, Native Americans have stated they do not feel honored by Indian mascots; this includes a national campaign to remove Indian mascots, images, and stereotypes in media, sports and schools. There are approximately 185 schools in California that have Native American Mascots; the most prevalent being warriors and the second being Indians.

Rather than honoring First Nations Peoples, these images perpetuate stereotypes, promote cultural appropriation and keep Native Americans as a people of the past; this negates the contemporary relevance of First Nations Peoples. The use of racially derogatory or discriminatory mascots, or nicknames in California public schools is anti-ethical to the California school mission of providing an equal education to all.  Athletic team names, mascots, and nicknames that have been used and remain in use by other teams, including school teams, are discriminatory in singling out the Native American community for the derision to which mascots or nicknames are often subjected.

The (National) Native American Mascot debate dates back to 1968. The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) launched a campaign to address stereotypes of Native Peoples in popular culture and media, as well as in sports. Furthermore, The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights states, “Many individuals and organizations interested and experienced in human relations, including the United States Commission on Civil Rights, have concluded that the use of Native American images and names in school sports is a barrier to equality and understanding, and that all residents of the United States would benefit from the discontinuance of their use.”

Over the last fifty years, hundreds of tribal nations, national and regional tribal organizations, civil rights organizations, school boards, sports teams, sports & media personalities, and individuals have called for the end to harmful “Indian” mascots.

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples states: 1. Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information. 2. States shall take effective measures, in consultation and cooperation with the indigenous peoples concerned, to combat prejudice and eliminate discrimination and to promote tolerance, understanding and good relations among indigenous peoples and all other segments of society.

Also, Article 26 – Paragraph 2 of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality, and to the strengthening of respect for human rights, and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance, and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.”

Mascots are derisive/meant to be ridiculed; Napa Valley Unified School Districts policy language regarding anti-bullying and discrimination supports the removal of the Napa High School Indian Mascot; Maintaining respect of different cultural values, attitudes, fairness and dignity, demonstrating respect for human rights and non-discrimination.

The Longest Walk 5.2 “Calling an End to Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence”

Angel Heart

SSPRIT Secretary & Public Relations Officer 

January 12, 2017

The National Field Office of The American Indian Movement proudly announces, The Longest Walk 5.2, “Calling an End to Drug Abuse and Domestic Violence.” Dennis Banks, National Field Director and Co-Founder of The American Indian Movement issued a three phase – 3 year walk across America in 2016.  Dennis Banks stated, “Because of the extremely high rate of abuse, suicides, drug related deaths and destruction, which is at a pandemic stage, our mission is to cross this continent on foot; seeking cultural and spiritual solutions to end drug abuse and domestic violence.”

Dennis Banks, Nowa Cumig, is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Band of Anishinaabe Peoples. Dennis has played a historical role as the co-founder of the American Indian Movement (AIM), community leader and activist for over 50 years. In 1978, he assisted in organizing the first Longest Walk, “Trail of Broken Treaties”. Tribal Nations gathered and marched from San Francisco to Washington DC with the purpose of bringing awareness to the unjust and un-lawful actions taking place against Native American Peoples across the Nation. Dennis Banks and many Native American Community Leaders have spent their lifetime organizing, changing and bringing awareness to specific issues effecting the vitality and longevity of Tribal Nations.

The Longest Walk 2, 3 and 4 were held from 2008 to 2014. The Longest Walk 5, 2016, covered 3,600 miles, and traveled through California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia, before ending in Washington, DC. Phase 2 of the Longest Walk 5, also known as The Longest Walk 5.2 will begin in San Francisco, CA and will be arriving in Washington DC on July 15th, 2017.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Bobby Wallace, National Chief of The Longest Walk 5, and he stated “This spiritual walk and run is dedicated to calling an end to drug abuse and domestic violence which greatly effects masses of all peoples on this continent. Longest Walks are held to bring attention to issues that directly affect Native Americans; this year, we will embark on the second leg of the Longest Walk 5 or The Longest Walk 5.2, which encompasses the middle part of the United States. The Longest Walk 5.2 will begin at 9 am on Sunday, February 12, 2017 next to The Warming Hut Café’ located at 983 Marin Drive, San Francisco, CA 94129. The Longest Walk will be traveling to Standing Rock, North Dakota; continuing to Washington D.C.

Native American populations continue to disproportionately suffer from social and health disparities, having great impacts on livelihood and future generations. Historically, Native Americans have persistently experienced trauma due to US policies of genocide, assimilation and colonialism resulting in historical trauma.

Due to the harsh effects of historical trauma, Native American populations across the country continue to fight the repercussions of these acts. National research has shown that childhood trauma is an underlying cause of many disparities including; substance abuse, domestic violence, diabetes, heart disease and death. Trauma prevention, trauma care and the repercussions of trauma must be addressed at community and systematic levels. Statistics consistently show that social, economic and health disparities continue to exist in every tribal community across the Nation and must not be ignored. Tribal communities remain strong and resilient in many other ways such as upholding the tribal values, traditions, language and ceremonies which are still prevalent today. The role of these strengths must be fully understood and valued. Cultural and systematic solutions should be woven together to meet many national disparities among tribal nations.

“We have approximately 30 dedicated walkers, 5-10 full time runners, and many people who will be joining in as we reach communities along the way. The Longest Walk 5.2 will have 8-10 Leaders, a full time cook, 3 trucks, 2 cars as support vehicles and a storage trailer for necessary supplies. This walk will take 165 days to complete covering approximately 3,946 miles. Your support is greatly appreciated!” – Bobby Wallace.

To learn more about The Longest Walk 5.2, please visit: