Thanks to years of outreach to Maine schools by tribal leaders, Maine’s LAST Indian-themed mascot was finally retired in March 2019. In May of the same year, Maine became the first state to pass a law banning Native American mascots at all public schools.
However, schools across the country continue to use these mascots. And although a number of professional sports teams, including in Cleveland and Washington, have retired their Indian-themed mascots, many remain…including Kansas City, which will play in the 2023 Super Bowl on Sunday, Feb. 12.
Navigating discussions about Indian-themed mascots is notoriously difficult and time consuming, but communities that invest the time to listen and learn from Indigenous peoples invariably find their communities strengthened as a result. Most who have been a part of these discussions find the same issues and arguments raised, regardless of the community.
In collaboration with representatives from the Penobscot Nation, Wabanaki Alliance Coalition partner Suit Up Maine compiled the most common arguments from those who want to keep these mascots, with suggestions for ways to respond.