Imagining the Indian: De-Mascoting Native Americans in Sports

Imagining the Indian: De-Mascoting Native Americans in Sports

America is famous for its sports franchises and rabid fans. However, there is one group of Americans for whom sports raise painful memories. These are the Native Americans.
At least some people are trying to put an end to racial stereotyping in US sports. And they have already succeeded in changing the name of the Washington Football Team.
Aviva Kempner is the award-winning director of successful docs like “The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg”. Kevin Blackistone is an award-winning national sports columnist. Together they are working on bringing Imagining the Indian to the screen.
We caught up recently with Aviva and Kevin at their homes in Washington DC.

“I’ve come to be opposed to all these names. The Not Your Mascot slogan is so true. People are not property of others, certainly when it is a culture that is being appropriated. We’re supposed to be past that.” – Kevin Blackistone

Time Stamps:

0:19 – Imagining the Indian trailer.
4:39 – Introducing our guests and today’s topic.
8:40 – When and how Kevin Blackistone got the idea for this project.
11:09 – How Aviva Kempner got involved in the film.
15:15 – The events related to changing the names of sports teams since 2014.
19:58 – Why it has taken so long to take action against Native American mascoting.
25:21 – The role of Hollywood in sustaining stereotypes about Native Americans.
28:44 – The next step for this project after the name change to Washington Football Team.
32:23 – Why Kevin is opposed to all sports names containing Native American imagery.
38:41 – How sports mascoting affects Native Americans.
43:00 – How the Black Lives Matter movement is influencing the Not Your Mascot movement.
48:49 – How the pandemic has affected the filming.
51:14 – Whether there are any teams in the UK and elsewhere named after Native Americans.
1:01:29 – How the audience can connect with the filmmakers and the project.
1:04:58 – Why we are in the Golden Age of documentary film.


Imagining the Indian Website
Follow the project on Twitter and Facebook
The Ciesla Foundation
Kevin Blackistone’s sports commentary in The Washington Post
Alamo Pictures
Connect with Aviva Kempner:
Connect with Kevin Blackistone:
Connect with Factual America:
Connect with Matthew Sherwood:

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Episode 28