July 3, 2022

Tomahawk Chop: Atlanta Braves and the Effectiveness of Native American Mascotry

The Atlanta Braves are currently competing in the World Series, but one mascot may be getting more attention than the team. The tomahawk chop has been an iconic part of Braves baseball for decades, and it is now being scrutinized by Native American groups who have come out against its use. This blog post will discuss whether or not this symbol should continue to be used as the Braves compete in the World Series.

According to former Braves manager Bobby Cox, the tomahawk chop was first used by fans in Atlanta during the 1970s. Despite being started by fans, this post argues that the tomahawk chop is actually a reference to Native American history and culture. For example, it notes how Atlanta’s team name is inspired by a Creek Indian leader, and the tomahawk chop is believed to be a reference to Native American scalping of their opponents. Since it draws its inspiration from Native Americans, this blog post argues that it should continue to be used by Braves fans.

However, this article contradicts the claim that the tomahawk chop is simply a reference to Native American history and culture. This article argues that the tomahawk chop is a reference to Native American stereotypes, and it draws attention to how Braves fans imitate “war whoops” and wear headdresses. As this blog post notes, such actions are disrespectful to Native Americans as they reinforce negative stereotypes. For example, this piece describes how supporters of Chief Illiniwek, the former mascot of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, have been known to don headdresses. Thus, this article concludes that it is hypocritical for Braves fans to use Native American imagery while also complaining about Chief Illiniwek’s use of stereotypes.

This post cites several articles in support of its argument, while also listing a few cons. First, it cites a Letter from Native Americans” written by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in reaction to the tomahawk chop. In this letter, it is argued that imitating the tomahawk chop is insensitive to Native American culture and history because of its associations with violence and racist stereotypes. This article also cites a similar article by the Kansas City Star. This piece argues that Native American fans should not be forced to endure the tomahawk chop at Braves games, and it criticizes baseball teams for exploiting Native American culture without respecting its history. Finally, this post lists several cons as well. For example, one con is how some people may not understand the context behind the tomahawk chop. This post argues that this is understandable because most people are not familiar with Native American stereotypes, which limits their understanding of this controversy. Another con is how some people may be confused by discussions surrounding Chief Illiniwek and the tomahawk chop, since they believe many Americans dislike all forms of Native American stereotypes. Finally, this post believes that it is hypocritical to ban the tomahawk chop in Atlanta while supporting similar behavior in other situations, such as Chief Illiniwek at a University of Illinois basketball game.