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A Statement on Super Bowl LIV: We are not your mascot

A Statement on Super Bowl LIV: We are not your mascot

Protecting the Settlers. 1861, illustration. Published in Harper’s New Monthly.

Ever since the white invaders first arrived on Turtle Island and began their illegal incursion into Indian land, various forms of lies, propaganda and misinformation have been used to indoctrinate millions of impressionable children and adults, young and old alike, across the United States and around the globe. 

In the age of information, their previous forms of misinformation has lost ground, but nevertheless, these invaders have persisted, evolving now to rely on new forms of disparagement with these modern weaponizations literally becoming a sport and culminating today in America’s greatest national pastime. 

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Despite recent presidential proclamations meant to “address serious issues affecting them and to help protect their rich and diverse heritage,” such statements are completely meaningless when the government of the United States of America deliberately fails to acknowledge and in fact continues to encourage these psychological and traumatic displays against us. Super Bowl LIV’s event can be argued as the ultimate show of contempt for the American Indian.

Illustration: Gus Reyes

A brief examination in history reminds us of the etymology and symbolism of the San Francisco 49ers team name. For the indoctrinated American, it is a romantic 19th-century era where vast wealth and fortune were discovered out west in a land known as California. For the American Indian, it is none of these things. 

This name glorifies the brutal murder and displacement of countless of Indian families and lands stolen by the white invader and other prospectors both free and enslaved. This was a government-sponsored massacre validated by an executive order declared on January 6, 1851 by California’s first governor, Peter Hardeman Burnett, stating “that a war of extermination will continue to be waged between the races until the Indian race becomes extinct.” 

The Gold Rush years were effectively a genocide resulting in the declination of an estimated 275,000 American Indians before it began, down to a population of 30,000 when it was over. The Maidu, Nisenan, Koukow, Miwok, Pomo, Ohlone and Yokut tribes were among the most severely affected by the onslaught of the Forty-Niners and other invaders in 1848 and onward. These whitewashing efforts continue today with the exclusion of California tribal history in grade school curriculums conveniently leaving the history of this dark period out. 

Illustration: Gus Reyes

The Kansas City “Chief” name serves as an instrument for the invader’s attack against the American Indian. For years this NFL team, its fanbase and ownership have been one of the greatest sources of defamation toward the American Indian for its unconstrained use of Indian headdresses and traditional regalia, the blatant use of red-face and other racist depictions of our history, culture and ideology. 

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One only needs to look at a photograph of a Chiefs’ game to see the campaign of ignorance on full display. Now combined, the contest of these two teams will mark a magnificently successful, indulgent, drunken feast of continued ignorance served with a side of spicy wings and bean dips. The American Indian Movement condemns the use of America’s finest and greatest sports spectacle to cast its continued denigrative and dehumanization campaign of the American Indian. 

“Just remember whose land you are all on and that your freedom and football games did not come without bloodshed, Native people—the first people of this land, the real and actually people who are being used for your entertainment, are watching you. And we will not rest until Native appropriation is no more.” — Amanda Blackhorse

We Are not your mascot and our culture is not your costume!