EXETER CHIEFS bosses will discuss ditching their “racist” Native American branding and mascot after a petition to change it hit more than 1,700 signatures.
And title-chasing Exeter Chiefs, who have so far refused to comment, are now understood to be planning to talk about the issues at their next board meeting, which will be headed up by chairman and chief executive Tony Rowe.
The Chiefs, currently top of the league and favourites to win this year’s Premiership, have a Native American on their badge and a mascot called ‘Big Chief’, who wears a headdress and carries a tomahawk.
Campaigner Ash Green believes these images are cultural appropriation of the Indigenous Peoples of North America.
Green said: “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 racist 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 hurtful and offensive.
“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.
“Help us ensure our fantastic club has a long and successful future under a brand that we can all be proud of.”