Why the Exeter Chiefs Should Rebrand Themselves

This blog post originally appeared at the Imperial and Global Forum in June. It’s reposted with slight edits here for reasons I’ll go into below.

Exeter chiefs3On any given weekend, you might find yourself on a train platform, surrounded by sports fans wearing “Native American” headdresses and “war paint,” and waving inflatable tomahawks. They’ll be wearing apparel purchased from the team’s online store (the “Trading Post”), where you can also buy a “Little Big Chief” mascot. During the event, supporters will chant the Tomahawk Chop to get into the spirit of things, and afterward, perhaps they’ll rehash the game on the team’s message boards (“the tribe”). But this isn’t the Atlanta Braves. It’s not the Washington Redskins. This is a rugby match for Great Britain’s Exeter Chiefs, and it’s a problem that evokes Britain’s imperial American past.

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Guest Post: What’s in a Name? On Sports Teams and Scalp Bounties

Today’s guest post is by Mairin Odle, a PhD Candidate in Atlantic History at New York University. In 2013-2014, she was a Sawyer Dissertation Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies. Her research investigates cross-cultural body modifications in early America.    

Odle guest post imageAs many in the D.C. area can tell you, the Washington NFL franchise—known to thousands of its fans as the Redskins—lost each of the four games they played last month. Is it possible that players were distracted by the protests and controversy over the team’s nickname? The timing is interesting: after all, November was Native American Heritage Month. Continue reading