The fancy dance of racializing discourse

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In the United States, the Euro-American practice of using stereotypical Native American imagery and dancing in association with athletic mascots continues despite vigorous protest. This suggests that American Indians occupy a different semiotic space than other US. minorities who are no longer subject to such explicit racializing representations. This article asks how and why non-Native Americans endow Indian mascots with significance. Analysis of the discursive formations associated with one such local practice - the dancing Indian mascot at the University of Illinois known as Chief Illiniwek - suggests that the dominant "race-making" population, who are the mascot's ardent supporters, create and passionately defend a "White public space" in which any contemporary Native American presence is positioned as disorderly. This article seeks to advance the understanding of how racializing discourses create the cultural logic that stigmatizes and stereotypes (in this case) American Indian people.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)30-55
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
Issue number1 SPEC. ISS.
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • American Indians
  • Athletic mascots
  • Discourse
  • Racism
  • United States

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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