Asking Exeter Chiefs to drop its harmful use of Indigenous Peoples’ imagery & branding

Asking Exeter Chiefs to drop its harmful use of Indigenous Peoples’ imagery & branding

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Update (5 July 2020): Through this campaign we’ve had the privilege of being able to connect with various brilliant Indigenous groups and representatives to discuss the topic of Indigenous culture in sport. One thing (among many!) we have learned is that it is preferable to use the terms Indigenous Peoples or First Nation Peoples when referring to the impacted communities. This is because they pre-date the foundings of the USA and Canada.

Whilst it is not racist or offensive to use the term Native American, we will be respecting the feedback we have received, and use will use Indigenous Peoples or First Nation Peoples from now on in our communications.


This is a petition started by supporters of Exeter Chiefs:

Exeter Chiefs is a fantastic club that has seen a huge amount of success on the pitch and done a lot of good off it for decades. It’s one of Exeter’s most well known brands and has put the city firmly on the sporting map. The club MUST address its use of harmful imagery and branding.

There is no place in a predominantly white British environment for appropriation of Indigenous Peoples‘ imagery that has no relation whatsoever to the history of the club, or the city. The ‘Chiefs’ brand dates back to 1999, a decision that was not taken with racism in mind, but one that is now sat increasingly awkwardly at the pinnacle of English rugby.

The stylised Chief on the club’s crest, the ‘Big Chief’ mascot, the headdresses and tomahawks adorning the supporters, and the ‘Tomahawk Chop’ chant are all examples of cultural appropriation of the Indigenous Peoples who were all but wiped out by white European settlers and who still suffer extreme examples of racial prejudice today, across the world.

There is a huge amount of correspondence from Indigenous Peoples making it very clear that they find the use of their sacred rites and iconography in these contexts deeply harmful and offensive. The National Congress of American Indians summarises it brilliantly here: http://www.ncai.org/proudtobe

The club doesn’t even need to change its name - Exeter Chiefs could refer to the Celtic Chiefs who inhabited the city and contributed to its rich and diverse history. It is the imagery that must change.

There is huge potential for the club to seize the positivity around the BLM movement, to take ownership of a branding decision that is now very clearly on the wrong side of history. There’s no need to change the name just the logo, which would:

  • Generate positive press by addressing the issues of cultural appropriation and showing awareness and a proactive desire to bring about positive change;
  • Involve the community in the rebrand, making people feel involved in the identity of their local club, which will be inspired by local history;
  • Generate revenue for the club through sales of merchandise featuring the new branding.

Help us ensure our fantastic club has a long and successful future under a brand that we can all be proud of.