The Metrolina Native American Association (MNAA) is a Native American Community Association in Charlotte, North Carolina. MNAA is a North Carolina State-Recognized Urban Indian Center Incorporated in January 1976 by local Native Americans as a non-profit education advocacy group.
MNAA is the second oldest Urban Indian Center in North Carolina.
The organization serves over 10,000 Native Americans in Mecklenburg and the surrounding counties. Since its inception in 1976, the organizations hosts an annual Pow Wow and Golf Tournament in September along with many other activities throughout the year.
MNAA has called for the retirement of the South Point's "Red Raider" mascot, stating, "When we see this imagery, we do not see ourselves reflected back to us. Rather, we see what America thinks we are - savage, a people of before, forever fixed in the past." MNAA also calls out the cultural appropriation tied to the mascot, such as "war chants, face paint, tomahawk chops". In their letter to Gaston County School Board, they explain, "These acts dishonor us. So too, do they dishonor you, an institution pledged to educating and uplifting children."
In 2005, the American Psychological Association called for the immediate retirement of all American Indian mascots, symbols, images and personalities by schools, colleges, universities, athletic teams and organizations. APA's position is based on a growing body of social science literature that shows the harmful effects of racial stereotyping and inaccurate racial portrayals, including the particularly harmful effects of American Indian sports mascots on the social identity development and self-esteem of American Indian young people.
“The use of American Indian mascots as symbols in schools and university athletic programs is particularly troubling because schools are places of learning. These mascots are teaching stereotypical, misleading and too often, insulting images of American Indians. These negative lessons are not just affecting American Indian students; they are sending the wrong message to all students.”
As the nation’s oldest, largest, and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native advocacy organization, the National Congress of American Indians has long held a clear position against derogatory and harmful stereotypes of Native people—including sports mascots—in media and popular culture. In 1968, NCAI launched a campaign to address stereotypes of Native people in popular culture and media, as well as in sports.
“The intolerance and harm promoted by these 'Indian' sports mascots, logos, or symbols, have very real consequences for Native people. Specifically, rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes are harmful, perpetuate negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples, and contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples.”
NORTH CAROLINA STATE LEADERSHIP
In 2000, the NC Commission of Indian Affairs passed a resolution calling for the elimination of the use of American Indian mascots from all NC public schools and colleges. The NC State Advisory Council on Indian Education issued a similar resolution, citing the “detrimental effects on the achievement and self-identity, self-concept, and self-esteem of Indian students.” In response, the NC State Board of Education recommended that all NC public schools “study the impact of American Indian sports mascots and logos,” and the NC state superintendent instructed all school districts to report annually on their activities and actions taken to review Native American mascots and their harmful effects.
“The use of American Indian descriptions naming mascots, logos, and sports team nicknames are considered offensive, disrespectful, demeaning, and they make a mockery of Indian people, their culture, their heritage, and their traditions...The NC Commission of Indian Affairs, by this Resolution, request and urge...all Boards of Education of each county in the state, to discontinue the use, and remove all references to, American Indian descriptions naming mascots, logos, and sports team nicknames.”
In September 2020, the North Carolina Commission of Indian Affairs sent a letter to the Gaston County Board of Education asking the board to retire the Red Raider and all American Indian mascots. The board never responded to this letter. Read the full letter here.
In 2005, after three years of study, the NCAA Executive Committee announced a new policy to effectively bar any NCAA-member school that uses "offensive or hostile imagery" from hosting championship events. This requirement was in accordance with NCAA policy that requires each member institution to maintain an "atmosphere of respect for and sensitivity to the dignity of every person." Since this policy, nearly all NCAA colleges and universities have removed offensive mascots.
"When you look at sports mascots, they include animals, mythical beings, and Indians. But living and contemporary indigenous people have something to say when it comes to how we are represented. I think Indian people don't want to be ridiculed, satirized, and denigrated, and that is why you hear our voices on this issue. Indian mascots are romanticized images of who Indian people are and have nothing to contribute to our contemporary issues."