Cultural Theirvery of the Native American Culture: Should Redskins Change Their Name

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The problem

It is unethical as a designer to taking aspects of a culture that is not their own and utilize its works, be it art, lettering, patterns or any aspect, without doing the proper amount of research to suport your deisgn and at the same time being respectful of the kind of impact that it will make. To gain a full understanding of what and how your finished product will affect its viewers is a primary ___ that is entrusted to the designer. The case of cultural appropriation in the design world has pressed far past the border of ethics. Appropriation is “ the act of taking existing images or text as the basis for a new work: distinguished from imitation by the fact that the materials are borrowed or cited are often absorbed directly into the new work without significant alteration.”

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While America have yet to fully recognize its traumatizing history with the Native American people, some cultural appropriation was only recently recognized as a form of malpractice in the design world over the past twenty years. Some of the most outstanding of these misrepresentations of an entire culture can be found in plain sight. U.S. sports have portrayed Native Americans in an outrageously stereotypical manner, more so to the point that it is insulting to an entire culture. The Atlanta Braves, the Chicago Blackhawks, the Cleveland Indians, the Kansas City Chiefs and, of course, and the Washington Redskins are just to name a couple that have been recognized as racist and have had petitions to have a name and mascot changed.

To misrepresent them for personal gains, especially if the end result is insulting and the outright misrepresentation of the Native American people and culture has only recently come into the limelight of injustices in the design community and has had a national impact. The Design of the Washington Redskins is a more prevalent and ongoing case that is a best example of the wrong that cultural appropriation has done. Washington redskins owner Daniel Snyder said in 2013, we’ll never change the name, it is that simple.”

The history

Cultural appropriation of Native Americans mascots and titles hit the market towards the beginning of the twentieth century when racism was instituted by law. The Federal Civilisation Regulations was currently in effect, which resulted in the forcing of the Native American People to reservations, the banning of all forms of native dances, ceremonies, confiscating cultural property or relics. This Act stripped almost all aspects of a traditional native life and almost wiped it off the map. At the time “sports teams with Native American Names and Mascots were very popular. None of them did have any Native Americans on their roster, and the logos that depicted native americans as savages or heathens were designed with little knowledge or appreciation for tribal costumes or reality”

While what this cuntry has done to the native american people is often overlooked as an uncomfortable subject/topic. While this kind of thinking is no more, why is the deisgn stuck in history with no efforts of being changed? To further the quetsion, why is it that sports teams of all sorts are still using racial imagery, names or reflections to this day. How can deisgners or even we as a nation Reduce the Native Americans to a single word, silhouette or image.

It is a designers job to take into consideration and understand that “subtle decisions that individually seem insignificant, yet each decision is amplified in scope as they are released into society en masse”. Even though some of these decisions have delayed impact, as they reach their audience, months or years after they are made and so it becomes difficult to map cultural shift to specific design choices”Native americans are stuck in the 1900s dialogue as a headdress caricature and nothing more. If we cannot provide the respect and honor that is to change these names and mascots, we will in return be ignoring the lives of a entire community and culture. In general we are responsible for the picture we paint for the future

The image that is accompanied with the Native americans is dehumanizing. Reducing any people, religion, or culture to a single false image is unethical. In the relm of how to decide on what deisgn is accepted versu what is not “our common sense and empathy gets us a long way. Sexism, racism, ageism, ableism, xenophobia, transphobia, and other such behavior can unfortunately be encountered in all parts of society, and most of us know all too well what it sounds, feels, and looks like.” As deisgners we know the behavior unacceptable we must be able to recognize in our ourn deisign and in others whenever it is spotted.

Now when these designers were made they were not assessing that possible outcome 20+ years down the line, but that does not excuse the obvious fact that it should be addressed now. While designers and companies cannot plan for this kind of backlash, they can step forward and make a change. The world is always moving forward but that does not mean that some design thinking and ethics should be static till the end of time. Especially if that design negatively impacts and assesses an entire culture such as the native americans.

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