• 10.10.13

Native Americans Counter Racist Iconography With Racist Baseball Caps

In 2001, the National Congress of American Indians released a wickedly biting poster of racist baseball caps. But it’s just as relevant today as it was then.

Native Americans Counter Racist Iconography With Racist Baseball Caps

If you’ve missed the controversy, everyone from Sports Illustrated to Barack Obama has weighed in on the latest hot topic in football. It’s not concussions. It’s the team name Washington Redskins. Today, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) has released a report of their own on the topic, titled Ending the Legacy of Racism in Sports & the Era of Harmful “Indian” Sports Mascots.


But a bit over a decade ago, they released an argument against “Indian” sports mascots that was even more cutting. It was this poster, showing the (pretty unquestionably racist!) Cleveland Indians logo (that’s still in use today!), alongside hypothetical team equivalents, the New York Jews and the San Francisco Chinamen. Needless to say, even if you would make an argument that the Cleveland Indians logo is a piece of steadfast, time-honored tradition, as soon as that toothy-grinned parody sits alongside a few peers, it’s an anachronistic gut-punch that contextualizes the absurdity (and yes, the racism).

We’ve reached out to the NCAI to learn more about the poster’s original design. But if you’d like to learn more about racism in sports iconography, their new report is a great place to start.

UPDATE: An original version of this article reported that the poster was produced in the 1990s, per the NCAI Twitter account. Slate reports the poster was actually produced for the NCAI by by advertising firm Devito/verdi in 2001.

Read it here.

[Hat tip: Political Blindspot]

About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started, a simple way to give back every day.