The popular athletic company Adidas is the latest group pushing to put an end to the usage of Native American mascots. The company has said that it will offer free design resources to any high schools that agree to switch to an alternative mascot.
Any school that decides to make a transition to a new mascot will be provided complementary assistance from the company’s design team, and they will be provided with brand new logo and sports uniform designs.
The offering from Adidas comes as President Barack Obama is hosting leaders from the nation’s 567 recognized native tribes in Washington D.C as part of the White House Tribal Nations Conference. Adidas has stated that the company will have representatives at the conference.
The use of Native American mascots and symbolism in sports has been a major debate for many years in the United States. Critics argue that the imagery is racially offensive and exploitative. Supporters say that the mascots are historic, and they are actually honoring and respecting the tribes by highlighting their contributions to society.
Estimates show that about 2,000 schools in the United States currently have a Native American mascot. Only about 12 schools have switched mascots in the past two years, although an additional 20 are currently considering making a switch.
Meanwhile, certain groups such as Change the Mascot have long been fighting against the usage of Native American mascots. Representatives from Change the Mascot have stated that the recent move by Adidas shows that the issue is gaining momentum.
In professional sports, the Washington Redskins of the National Football League have long resisted changing their historic mascot. The team’s owner Dan Snyder insisted in May of 2013 that he would never change the football team’s name.
At the college level some sports programs, including the Florida State Seminoles, have received specific permission from the actual Native American tribes to make use of their names and tribal imagery.