Mascots honor an Indian who never was
February 8, 2021
Pop culture first created the mythical image of a universal Native American about 100 years ago. Now outdated and outed as a creation of white privilege, the myth is at last being abandoned.
Typically, athletic teams using Native American-inspired mascots insist the practice is a means to honor Native peoples. Although the sentiment may be accurate, the history behind these names discloses a truth far removed from genuine honor.
Stories about how the Washington football team acquired the R-word as its name and mascot vary. According to team history, the 1933 owner George Preston Marshall changed the team’s name from the Braves to the R-word to honor its Native American coach William “Lone Star” Dietz and to avoid confusion with the Boston Braves baseball team. Washington Post writer Richard Leiby later challenged this story in 2013, finding it was unlikely that Dietz was in fact Native American.