Retire Manteo High and Middle School "Redskins" and "Braves" Mascots

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“Native Americans who strongly identify with being Native American and engage in tribal cultural practices are deeply insulted if called “Redskin”. “Redskin” is equivalent to the “N” word. “Redskin” is a slur and an inappropriate way to describe Native Americans. It may not be mean to tell someone their skin is reddish.  But it is mean to call someone a “Redskin”. There is a difference…”

-From the Roanoke-Hatteras Council, Algonquian Indians of NC, Inc., June 2020

It’s time for Manteo High School and Manteo Middle School to adopt mascots that past, present, and future students can proudly support. We are demanding that Manteo High School and Manteo Middle School begin phasing out their mascots and choose new mascots for the 2020-2021 school year.

The town of Manteo exists on land that once belonged to the Croatan Nation. Manteo Middle and High School's mascots, the “Redskins” and the “Braves”, are part of a tradition of Native objectification and stereotyping in sports. Native mascots have been statistically proven to harm contemporary Native American people’s mental health, especially that of children.[1] Native Americans are real living people with lives built around values that have shaped both Native cultures and U.S. society: respect for family and elders; shared responsibility to care for the land; and an obligation to do right by the next generation.[2]

No one deserves to see their heritage insulted, ridiculed, or represented by someone else, yet Native Americans have been mocked and dehumanized by slurs and images in team mascots at every level, from elementary schools to professional leagues. Although many community members feel pride in the connection to Chief Manteo, the word “Redskins” and associated caricatured imagery does not honor his legacy. It has a clear history as a racial slur, as one of the meanings referred to the literal human scalp bounty hunters would rip from slaughtered Native people to receive payment from the state government[3] as part of state-sanctioned eradication of the Native population. The mascot of the “Braves” promotes a trying-on of Native identity without any historical or contemporary context. The use of Native mascots contributes to the elimination of real historical and racial dialogue and one of contemporary Native Americans’ greatest struggles, the issue of visibility. 

In response to the Black Lives Matter movement that is impacting our nation and the world, white people are examining their privilege and all of the subtle and explicit ways dominant culture upholds racist structures. Alumni of Manteo Middle and Manteo High School recognize that our beloved alma maters’ use of racist slurs and Native erasure can no longer continue. The use of these mascots is deeply harmful to the cause of creating sustainable and positive race relations in our community. The mascots desensitize students to racial othering and send a message to students and community members that racism is permissible and fun.

Changing these mascots is a small but symbolic step towards dismantling racist structures and building dialogue and accountability. Let's be part of that change. As alumni who are proud of where we come from, we believe our school should join this movement. Please sign and share this petition. 

Also, in your comments, please list your city of residence or alumni status and suggest alternative team names for both Manteo Middle and Manteo High that capture what truly makes Manteo and the Outer Banks unique. If you are interested in helping spread the word, please contact our team at ChangeManteoMascots@gmail.com. 


[1] Reclaiming Native Truth: “Changing the Narrative About Native Americans: A Guide for Allies” 

[2] Fryberg, Stephanie A. Et al.: “Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots”

[3] The Daily Republican (Winona, Minnesota), September 24, 1863