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Historian says Indian mascots remain popular even at schools that dropped them

Related Link American Studies Association demands Redskins change their name

For decades, many colleges and universities had mascots and team names based on American Indian tribes. Many of these colleges -- under pressure from Native Americans and the National Collegiate Athletic Association -- have dropped those names. But the impact of these team names (and those that remain) is much broader than many people realize, argues a new book, Indian Spectacle: College Mascots and the Anxiety of Modern America (Rutgers University Press). The author is Jennifer Guiliano, assistant professor of history at Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis. Guiliano answered questions about her book in an email interview.

Q: What led you to this topic?

A: I grew up with Chief Illiniwek [the longtime mascot at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign]. My mom's family is from Champaign, so I spent my youth going to games and watching the Chief perform. I lived through the Miami University change from Redskins to Redhawks in 1997 when I was a freshman there. And a few years later, I took a class with sport historian Dan Nathan where he encouraged me to write a community history of the Miami name. From there, it became my master's thesis, then my dissertation, and now this book.

Q: Under pressure from Native Americans and the National Collegiate Athletic Association, many colleges have abandoned Native American team names and mascots. Does the impact of having such mascots remain at the colleges that have since moved on?

A: Even though universities have "retired" their mascots, there lingers this intense community obsession with remembering these performances and histories. This is particularly true of schools in the Northeast and Midwest, where alumni groups, band groups and students continue to host events and websites dedicated to their mascots. Universities continue to market Indian mascots under "throwback" licensing. You can still buy apparel with Indian mascots and there is a strong market on Amazon, Cafepress.com, eBay and other online stores for "retired" mascots. There are some interesting tensions around this continued availability: colleges continue to profit from these things that they recognize are not appropriate by licensing them to external vendors. They also don't legally pursue shutting down the use of these copyrighted names and images by nonlicensed vendors, which allows these images to proliferate. ...

Read entire article at Inside Higher Ed