Unpacking the Mascot Debate: Native American Identification Predicts Opposition to Native Mascots

Stephanie A. Fryberg, Arianne E. Eason*, Laura M. Brady, Nadia Jessop, Julisa J. Lopez

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


While major organizations representing Native Americans (e.g., National Congress of American Indians) contend that Native mascots are stereotypical and dehumanizing, sports teams with Native mascots cite polls claiming their mascots are not offensive to Native people. We conducted a large-scale, empirical study to provide a valid and generalizable understanding of Native Americans’ (N = 1,021) attitudes toward Native mascots. Building on the identity centrality literature, we examined how multiple aspects of Native identification uniquely shaped attitudes toward mascots. While Native Americans in our sample generally opposed Native mascots, especially the Redskins, attitudes varied according to demographic characteristics (e.g., age, political orientation, education) and the strength of participants’ racial–ethnic identification. Specifically, stronger Native identification (behavioral engagement and identity centrality) predicted greater opposition. Results highlight the importance of considering the unique and multifaceted aspects of identity, particularly when seeking to understand Native people’s attitudes and experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-13
Number of pages11
JournalSocial Psychological and Personality Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2021


  • enculturation
  • ethnic identification
  • mascots
  • Native Americans

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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