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Tomahawk Chops and Indian Mascots, Vanishing From U.S. Stadiums, Live On in Europe

Tomahawk Chops and Indian Mascots, Vanishing From U.S. Stadiums, Live On in Europe

At least one team in Europe has acknowledged the movement and made changes: Two years ago, the Streatham Redskins, England’s oldest ice hockey club, announced that they would look for a new nickname after determining that theirs, which was introduced in 1974, did not reflect the organization’s values. Fans of the club eventually voted to adopt the RedHawks.

But most other clubs have no interest, at least for now, in doing the same.

The Frolunda Indians, a professional hockey team from Gothenburg, Sweden, was known as Vastra Frolunda IF until 1995, around the time that the Swedish Hockey League began encouraging its clubs to adopt American-style nicknames. Inspired by the Chicago Blackhawks and the fact that the team in the 1960s was said to play in a “vilda vastern,” or Wild West, style, it chose the Indians.

The club developed a cartoon logo depicting an Indian chief with a headdress fanned around his stern face, and for a time the team’s costumed mascot was a Native American hockey player with a missing tooth and feathers poking through his helmet. (These days, the team’s in-stadium mascot is an anthropomorphic bison.)

In 2015, a man in Sweden filed two separate official reports to the Equality Ombudsman, a government agency that addresses discrimination, accusing the team of spreading a stereotypical image of Native Americans. “I want Sweden to show that you do not tolerate insulting the culture of others,” he wrote, according to the copy of the complaint provided to The Times by the agency.

The club dismissed his concerns, and the Equality Ombudsman ultimately rejected the claim.

“We, from a distance, follow the discussions about the Washington Redskins, the Cleveland Indians,” said Peter Pettersson Kymmer, a Frolunda team spokesman. “But we sincerely think that our Indian, in our point of view, is in no way offensive to the Native Americans. On the contrary, it’s a tribute, and we’re proud to wear it.”

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