American Indians fight racial stereotypes perpetrated by athletic teams. The American Indian Movement protests the Atlanta Braves and demands they change their mascot and team name.
Fighting Stereotypes of Sports Team Names
TOM BROKAW, anchor:
The Atlanta Braves finished second in the World Series and last in the hearts of Indian activists offended by that name, the Braves. Today the activists pressed for a name change, but as NBC's Bob Dotson tells us tonight, this one goes well beyond Atlanta.
BOB DOTSON reporting:
Atlanta's “tomahawk chop” opens some old wounds.
Atlanta Brave Fans: We will, we will, chop you!
DOTSON: For most fans it was simply a way to act like a kid at a kids' game. For some American Indians it became a question of respect.
American Indian Protester #1: To contest the Atlanta Brave baseball team's allowing their fans to act ridiculous in public, mimicking Native Americans.
DOTSON: Team owner Ted Turner promised the Braves would discuss the matter after the season was over.
CLYDE BELLECOURT (American Indian Movement): The name has to go.
DOTSON: Today, Clyde Bellecourt, the director of the American Indian Movement, met with Brave's officials and asked them to change the team's name.
STAN KASTEN (Atlanta Braves): Today I know of no plans for a change, but that's today, and I wouldn't rule anything in or out.
BELLECOURT: And if it takes hundreds and thousands of Native people and others joining hands and marching here in Atlanta during the Olympics, we will intensify that kind of campaign.
DOTSON: Bellecourt is threatening lawsuits against the Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs and the only professional team named after skin color, the Washington Redskins. Other Native Americans are working on legislation to cut off tax money to public schools that have Indian logos.
That would touch a lot of us. America is heavily nicknamed. Take high schools: 1,099 have Indian mascots, including some Native American schools, and it is unlikely that they will change their names voluntarily.
Unidentified Woman #1: I actually see the Atlanta Braves as having some of the same qualities that the American Indians had: courage, competitiveness.
Unidentified Woman #2: If they said something like, say, Atlanta Sambos, you know, I would be offended.
DOTSON: Two views of history. One man's tradition, another man's game. Bob Dotson, NBC News, Atlanta.