Buffalo Ben and sidekick Squaw Mel, the mascots of the KAA Gent soccer team in Belgium, are seen in a February 2017 post on Twitter. The team has since renamed the "Squaw Mel" sidekick but Buffalo Ben remains. Photo: Buffalo Ben
Sports | World

Sports teams in Europe also boast stereotypical 'Indian' imagery



Sports teams across Europe use stereotypical and offensive "Indian" imagery and most show no desire to change, The New York Times reports.

K.A.A. Gent, a soccer team in Belgium, adopted a "Buffalo Ben" mascot in 2011 and gave him a companion named "Squaw Mel," the paper said. But while "Squaw Mel" has since been renamed, the Indian head logo remains.

"The logo used by KAA Gent is not a stereotypical caricature. Neither does it represent an aggressive savage," the team explains on its website. "The KAA Gent logo is a neutral image of a Native American chieftain, composed in profile, with his gaze on the horizon and looking towards the future."

Another soccer team, the Exeter Chiefs in England, use an 'Indian" man as a mascot -- he runs around the field in a headdress and a tomahawk in his hand. Fans often engage in "war chants" during games, The Times reports.


There are examples in the hockey world too. A team in Sweden adopted an "Indians" mascot in 1995 and while another in Czech Republic chose an "Indian" head as its mascot in 2009, this one with red skin.

“I’m not speaking as an American or as a European,” activist Suzan Shown Harjo, who has campaigned against racist imagery for decades, told The Times. “I’m commenting on American behavior and European behavior, both of which objectify native peoples. This is consistent for more than 500 years now.”

The recent adoptions of such imagery runs counter to the trend in the United States, where the use of stereotypical and racist mascots is on the decline thanks to the efforts of tribes, tribal organizations and activists.

Read More on the Story:
Tomahawk Chops and Indian Mascots: In Europe, Teams Don’t See a Problem (The New York Times May 7, 2018)