Fans want Ex­eter to drop ‘racist’ Chiefs brand­ing

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Ben Coles

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.”

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