Skip to main content

Video: 'If the Indian Mascot Could Speak,' a Poem by Preston Wells

A Dartmouth student offers a mascot's-eye-view on sports teams that use and misuse Native American imagery.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

The Dartmouth College-based Savage Media has released a video of a poem by a student that personalizes -- once again -- the debate over sports mascots. The poem is entitled "If the Indian Mascot Could Speak," and in it Preston Wells (class of 2015) plays the part of a Native mascot who shares his own feelings about what he is made to do in the service of football or other spectator sports. "Usually people call me Chief," he begins, as the screen fills with such brand-name "chiefs" as Wahoo (Cleveland Indians), Osceola (Florida State Seminoles) and Noc-A-Homa (Atlanta Braves), "because you make me dance in front of thousands / Stack a headdress on me like bricks / suffocate me in buckskin."

The video invokes the ChangeTheName campaign spearheaded by artist Gregg Deal, and with its use of black (and brown, and yellow) facepaint to prove a point may draw complaints (as happened with a 1491s video about Halloween costumes). Although the Washington Redskins' forgettable season is over, videos like this one from Wells prove that the debate over the problematic mascot and team name is still going strong.