APA Resolution Recommending the Immediate Retirement of
American Indian Mascots, Symbols, Images, and Personalities by
Schools, Colleges, Universities, Athletic Teams, and Organizations
Adopted by the APA Council of Representatives on August 21, 2005
WHEREAS the American Psychological Association has recognized that racism and racial discrimination are attitudes and behavior that are learned and that threaten human development (American Psychological Association, June 2001);
WHEREAS the American Psychological Association has resolved to denounce racism in all its forms and to call upon all psychologists to speak out against racism, and take proactive steps to prevent the occurrence of intolerant or racist acts (American Psychological Association, June 2001);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities undermines the educational experiences of members of all communities-especially those who have had little or no contact with Indigenous peoples (Connolly, 2000; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2001; Society of Indian Psychologists, 1999; Webester, Loudbear, Corn, & Vigue, 1971);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities establishes an unwelcome and often times hostile learning environment for American Indian students that affirms negative images/stereotypes that are promoted in mainstream society (Clark & Witko, in press; Fryberg, 2003; Fryberg & Markus, 2003; Fryberg, 2004a; Munson, 2001; Society of Indian Psychologists, 1999; Staurowsky, 1999);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by school systems appears to have a negative impact on the self-esteem of American Indian children (Chamberlin, 1999; Eagle and Condor Indigenous People’s Alliance, 2003; Fryberg, 2004b; Fryberg & Markus, 2003; Maryland Commission on Indian Affairs, 2001; Society of Indian Psychologists, 1999; The Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, 2001; Vanderford, 1996);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities undermines the ability of American Indian Nations to portray accurate and respectful images of their culture, spirituality, and traditions (Clark & Witko, in press; Davis, 1993; Gone, 2002; Rodriquez, 1998; Witko, 2005);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities presents stereotypical images of American Indian communities, that may be a violation of the civil rights of American Indian people (Dolley, 2003; King, 2001; King & Springwood, 2001; Pewewardy, 1991; Springwood & King, 2000; U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2001);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities is a form of discrimination against Indigenous Nations that can lead to negative relations between groups (Cook-Lynn, 2001; Coombe, 1999; U. S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2001; Witko, 2005);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian symbols, mascots, images, and personalities is a detrimental manner of illustrating the cultural identity of American Indian people through negative displays and/or interpretations of spiritual and traditional practices (Adams, 1995; Banks, 1993; Nuessel; 1994; Staurowsky, 1999; Witko, 2005);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities is disrespectful of the spiritual beliefs and values of American Indian nations (Churchill, 1994; Gone, 2002; Sheppard, 2004; Staurowsky, 1998);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities is an offensive and intolerable practice to American Indian Nations that must be eradicated (U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2001; Society of Indian Psychologists, 1999);
WHEREAS the continued use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities has a negative impact on other communities by allowing for the perpetuation of stereotypes and stigmatization of another cultural group (Fryberg, 2004b; Gone, 2002; Staurowsky, 1999; U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, 2001);
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association recognizes the potential negative impact the use of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities have on the mental health and psychological behavior of American Indian people;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association encourages continued research on the psychological effects American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities have on American Indian communities and others;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association encourages the development of programs for the public, psychologists, and students in psychology to increase awareness of the psychological effects that American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities have on American Indian communities and others;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the American Psychological Association supports and recommends the immediate retirement of American Indian mascots, symbols, images, and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams, and organizations.
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Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas.
American Psychological Association (June 2001). An emergency action of the Board of Directors: Resolution against racism and in support of the goals of the 2001 United Nations World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Related Intolerance. Washington, DC: Author. [Available online: http://www.apa.org/pi/racismresolution.html .]
Banks, D. (1993). Tribal names and mascots in sports. Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 17(1), 5-8.
Chamberlin, J. (1999). Indian Psychologists Support Retiring of Offensive Team Mascots. APA Monitor, 30 (4).
Clark, R. & Witko, T. (in press). Growing up Indian: Understanding urban Indian adolescents. In American Psychological Association (in press). No Longer Forgotten: Addressing the Mental Health Needs of Urban Indians. Washington, DC: Author.
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October 18, 2005
Contact: Pam Willenz
Public Affairs Office
APA Calls for the Immediate Retirement of American Indian Sports Mascots
Such Sports Mascots Promote Inaccurate Images and Stereotypes and Negatively Affect the Self-Esteem of Young American Indians
WASHINGTON, DC—The American Psychological Association is calling for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations, the Association announced today.
APA’s action, approved by the Association’s Council of Representatives, is based on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people.
“The use of American Indian mascots as symbols in school and university athletic programs is particularly troubling,” says APA President, Ronald F. Levant, EdD. “Schools and universities are places of learning. These mascots are teaching stereotypical, misleading and, too often, insulting images of American Indians. And these negative lessons are not just affecting American Indian students; they are sending the wrong message to all students.”
Psychologist Stephanie Fryberg, PhD, of the University of Arizona, has studied the impact of American Indian sports mascots on American Indian students as well as European American students. Her research shows the negative effect of such mascots on the self-esteem and community efficacy of American Indian students.
“American Indian mascots are harmful not only because they are often negative, but because they remind American Indians of the limited ways in which others see them,” Fryberg states. “This in turn restricts the number of ways American Indians can see themselves.”
The issue of the inappropriateness and potential harm of American Indian mascots is broader than the history and treatment of American Indians in our society say many psychologists who have studied issues of race in America. Such mascots are a contemporary example of prejudice by the dominant culture against racial and ethnic minority groups, according to these scholars.
Psychologist Lisa Thomas, PhD is a member of the APA Committee on Ethnic and Minority Affairs which drafted the Indian mascot resolution.
“We know from the literature that oppression, covert and overt racism, and perceived racism can have serious negative consequences for the mental health of American Indian and Alaska native (AIAN) people. We also need to pay careful attention to how these issues manifest themselves in the daily lives (e.g., school, work, traditional practices, and social activities) and experiences of AIAN individuals and communities. As natives, many of us have had personal and family experiences of being the target of frightening, humiliating, and infuriating behaviors on the part of others. This resolution makes a clear statement that racism toward, and the disrespect of, all people in our country and in the larger global context, will not be tolerated,” Dr. Thomas states.
Full text of the resolution can be found at http://www.apa.org/releases/ResAmIndianMascots.pdf
For more information or interviews:
John Chaney, PhD
Oklahoma State University
Stephanie Fryberg, PhD
University of Arizona
Lisa Thomas, PhD
University of Washington
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The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 150,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 53 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.
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