Obama: Teams should drop Native American mascots
© Getty Images

Names and mascots of sports teams like the Washington Redskins perpetuate negative stereotypes of Native Americans, President Obama said Thursday.  

Speaking at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, Obama said it’s important to “break stereotypes, I believe that includes our sports teams.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“If you’re living in a society that devalues your culture or perpetuates stereotypes, you may be devaluing yourself,” Obama added. “We all need to do more to ensure that our young people feel supported and respected.”

The president praised sports apparel company Adidas for announcing a new initiative to help schools change Native American names and mascots by offering to design new logos and paying for part of the cost of new uniforms.

“I don’t know if Adidas made the same offer to a certain NFL team here in Washington, but they might want to think about that as well,” Obama said, making a reference to the Redskins.

Adidas, which is a sponsor of Washington quarterback Robert Griffin III, is participating in the White House conference.

Obama said the children of Native American heritage who attend the roughy 2,000 schools that still have such mascots could feel alienated by them.

“If you walk into a school and you’re already feeling that stereotypes are embedded in the culture and the cheers, that kid is feeling set apart and different,” he said.

At the professional level, the president has in the past suggested he supports changing the Redskins’ name, which has been embroiled in controversy for years. He said he would be open to a name change in a 2013 interview.

"I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things," he told The Associated Press.

His administration has indicated it would likely block the Washington, D.C., government from building a new stadium for the team over objections to its name.

The Redskins’ old venue, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, sits on land owned by the National Park Service.