National | Sports

Unofficial NFL team mascot 'Chief Zee' passes away at age 75






The late Zema Williams was known to fans of the Washington NFL team as "Chief Zee." Photo by Katidid213

Zema Williams, an unofficial mascot of the Washington NFL team who appropriated Indian culture and called himself "Chief Zee," died at the age of 75.

Williams wore a faux headdress, carried a toy tomahawk to games for nearly 40 years, The Washington Post reported. He slowed down in recent years due to health problems but was an unapologetic fan of the team and its racist mascot.

“My job is to entertain the people,” Williams told columnist Mike Wise in 2013. “A lot of them tell me, they say, ‘You know, my wife won’t even cook me dinner till she see you on TV and says, ‘There’s my Injun.’ The older people been watching me so long, they don’t even say ‘Indian.’ They say, ‘Injun. There’s my Injun.’ And it’s on.”

In the same column, Williams claimed his maternal grandmother was "full-blooded Seminole." He was born in Georgia.

Get the Story:
Chief Zee, Redskins superfan and unofficial mascot, dies (The Washington Post 7/19)

Related Stories:
Editorial: Washington school bans NFL team's apparel on campus (06/22)
Amanda Blackhorse: Mascot opponents won't stop despite poll (06/02)
William Ledford: Native support for racist mascot is news to me (06/02)
Peter d'Errico: Mascot poll reflects realities of historical genocide (6/1)
Courtland Milloy: Let's celebrate NFL team's truly offensive past (6/1)
Harlan McKosato: Let's conduct new poll on the racist NFL mascot (5/31)
Raymond Foxworth: Tribal opposition to racist names still matters (5/31)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (05/26)
Billy Mills: Flawed poll can't justify use of team's racist mascot (5/24)
Richard King: Mascot poll reflects pervasive anti-Indian racism (5/24)
Tara Houska: Mascots hurt Native youth despite results of poll (5/23)
Vincent Schilling: Mascot poll doesn't reflect true Indian voices (5/23)
Washington Post conducts poll on Native views of racist mascot (5/20)
Room for Debate: Trademarks for racist and disparaging names (05/04)
Amanda Blackhorse to deliver Haskell University commencement keynote (04/27)
Washington team asks Supreme Court to hear trademark appeal (4/26)
Original Americans Foundation discloses $3.7M in gifts to tribes (01/15)
Washington mayor courts NFL team but won't use racist name (01/14)
Gregg Easterbrook: Fans shout racial slur on national television (12/08)
Carla Fredericks: Racial slur tied to Sand Creek Massacre (11/16)
Judith LeBlanc: Racial slurs have no place in our society (11/13)
Mary Pember: A confusing and disappointing mascot exhibit (11/11)
Obama takes aim at racist mascots and harmful stereotypes (11/6)
Transcript: President Obama at Tribal Nations Conference (11/6)
Adidas launches effort to help schools with Indian mascots (11/5)
James Giago Davies: Why the R-word controversy won't die (11/04)
Wenona Singel: Racist mascot found at schools in many states (10/16)
New book provides insight into owner of Washington NFL team (10/15)
Tara Houska: A symbol of racism lives on in our nation's capital (10/13)
Editorial: Another loss for Washington NFL team's racist mascot (10/13)
California governor signs bill to outlaw racist mascot in schools (10/12)
Donald Trump doesn't think NFL team's racist mascot should go (10/06)
Republican Jeb Bush defends racist name of Washington NFL team (10/1)
Indian National Finals Rodeo requested $527K from NFL team (09/17)
Harlan McKosato: Another season to fight team's racist mascot (09/14)
Eastern Cherokees disavow any ties to Washington NFL team (09/11)
Indian National Finals Rodeo won't take money from NFL team (09/10)
DC council member doesn't want racist name tied to stadium deal (08/26)
NFL team won't give up racist name in exchange for stadium (08/18)
TV show set in future comes up with new name for NFL team (08/07)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe rejects $25K check from NFL team (8/5)
Native Sun News Editorial: No honor in being called 'Redskin' (07/23)
Virginia governor seems less interested in hosting NFL team (07/22)
Washington NFL team plans to appeal decision in trademark case (07/09)
Judge backs Native youth in battle over NFL team's racist mascot (07/08)