Fans want Exeter to drop ‘racist’ Chiefs branding
A group set up by Exeter Chiefs supporters have called for the club’s “racist use of Native American imagery and branding” to be dropped, comparing the use of the headdresses and chanting the tomahawk chop to blackface.
A petition started this week by supporter Ashley Green has gained more than 550 signatures, with Ben Bradshaw, Exeter’s Labour MP, publicly backing the move.
The group described Exeter’s use of an American Indian mascot, the tomahawk chant and adoption of headdresses by supporters as “demeaning”. It added there was no issue with keeping the “Chiefs” name, pointing to Exeter’s history of Celtic tribes in the region during the pre-Roman era and calling for the club’s image to be built around that period as opposed to appropriating American Indian culture.
Exeter adopted the Chiefs brand in 1999. The club were promoted to the Premiership in 2010 and have since established themselves as a major force, winning the Premiership title in 2017.
One of the petitioners, a seasonticket holder for seven years, told
The Daily Telegraph: “The headdress or war bonnet is revered in many cultures, and we use it as a way to play fancy dress. We use the term Native American as a catch-all, not realising that there are many distinct tribes throughout North America. But we use a stereotype.”
Another compared the use of American Indian branding to blackface. “If Exeter Chiefs had a golliwog as their icon now, we would all have an issue with that. Essentially, what they are doing with the branding is the first-nation equivalent of blackface. American Indian people do not consent to you using their image. Why are you still doing this? It is just so demeaning.”