Team Spirits


Team Spirits

The Native American Mascots Controversy

Edited by C. Richard King and Charles Fruehling Springwood
Foreword by Vine Deloria Jr.

356 pages


February 2001


$27.50 Add to Cart

About the Book

A growing controversy in recent years has arisen around the use and abuse of Native American team mascots. The Cleveland Indians, Atlanta Braves, Washington Redskins, Kansas City Chiefs, Florida State Seminoles, and so forth—these are just a few of the images and names popularly associated with Native Americans that are still used as mascots by professional sports teams, dozens of universities, and countless high schools. This practice, a troubling legacy of Native–Euro-American relations in the United States, has sparked heated debates and intense protests that continue to escalate.
Team Spirits is the first comprehensive look at the Native American mascots controversy. In this work activists and academics explore the origins of Native American mascots, the messages they convey, and the reasons for their persistence into the twenty-first century. The essays examine hotly contested uses of mascots, including the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians, and the University of Illinois's Chief Illiniwek, as well as equally problematic but more complicated examples such as the Florida State Seminoles and the multitude of Native mascots at Marquette University. Also showcased are examples of successful opposition, including an end to Native American mascots at Springfield College and in Los Angeles public schools.

Author Bio

C. Richard King is an assistant professor of anthropology at Drake University, and Charles Fruehling Springwood is an assistant professor of anthropology at Illinois Wesleyan University. King and Springwood are coauthors of Beyond the Cheers: Race As Spectacle in College Sport.


“Each of the essays provides a different perspective, but all agree that the use of Indians as mascots is demeaning, patronizing, and a paradigm of Indian-white power relationships. . . . Separate articles by King and Springwood treat perceptively those Indians who support mascots, and are alone worth the price of the book. . . . One need look no farther for information on why and how Indian mascots exist and ought to disappear into oblivion.”—Choice

“Every time I watch the Washington Redskins or the Cleveland Indians (with their grotesque Chief Wahoo) I wonder what it must feel like to be a Native American sports fan and see oneself depicted this way. It just plain gives me the willies. Team Spirits shows me why.”—Rick Telander, sports columnist, Chicago Sun-Times

"This is an excellent collection of different viewpoints that challenge readers to reconsider how the selective perceptions of majority groups can persist in keeping down ethnic minorities."—Sunamita Lim, The Santa Fe New Mexican

"A valuable and important volume. . . . Each offering is methodical, careful in its argument, fulsome in its data-work, and above all, careful to avoid succumbing to the almost inevitable polemics such issues appear to raise."—Aethlon

“The greatest contribution Team Spirits offers to the literature on mascots is the excellent histories . . . on the origin of particular mascots and efforts taken to change or eliminate them. For in these histories—and in the defense mascot supporters proffer when challenged—lies the potential for understanding why people concoct mascots in the first place and why they grow so fond of keeping them in the face of opposition. . . . Team Spirits should appeal not only to scholars but to activists in mascot disputes around the country.”—David P. Rider, American Studies

“An invaluable collection of essays that thoroughly examine the American legacy of Native American mascots. Team Spirits fills an important social, political, and intellectual void in American Indian Studies literature, and serves as the first comprehensive examination of the growing mascots controversy.”—Joseph A. Martin, Anthropology and Education Quarterly

“C. Richard King and Charles Fruehling Springwood have collected fourteen critical essays, with a foreword by Vine Deloria Jr., which examine this matter from a variety of perspectives and provide some well needed historical and sociological context for the debate.”—Indigenous Nations Studies Journal


2001 Choice Outstanding Academic Title

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