Courtesy of Mary Kathryn Nagle

The Yale football team’s victory over Dartmouth Saturday was tainted by program booklets that featured racially insensitive portrayals of Native Americans on the cover.

The booklets, which were printed to commemorate the football team’s 100th game against Dartmouth, included eight historic renditions of program covers from past years, half of which contained offensive depictions of Native Americans that included Dartmouth’s unofficial former mascot, the Indian. One cover showed a bulldog chasing the Native American figure up a tree, while another featured a Yale football player lighting the figure’s clothing on fire. The Athletics Department issued an apology for the programs Sunday.

The image of the cover surfaced on social media Saturday when Mary Kathryn Nagle, executive director for the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts Program, tweeted out a picture of the program, criticizing the “dehumanizing images of redface.”

Students’ condemnation of the cover took off after an image of it was posted on the Overheard at Yale Facebook page Sunday afternoon.

Later that day, Director of Athletics Thomas Beckett responded on behalf of Yale Athletics and issued an apology for the offensive images in a schoolwide email.

In his message to the Yale community, Beckett said that Yale Athletics was sorry for the hurt the images may have caused individuals at Yale, particularly those from Native American communities. He added the artwork, while historic, was not featured with the intention of condoning racially insensitive stereotypes.

“The program cover is offensive,” Beckett said in an email to the News. “[This was] clearly not our intent. Our public apology acknowledged this. We will continue to work with any and all members of the Yale Community to address this topic in any way possible.”

The Association of Native Americans at Yale released a statement on Facebook saying the images create a noninclusive learning environment at Yale and make it challenging to promote accurate portrayals of indigenous peoples. The group said it plans to celebrate today as Indigenous Peoples’ Day, instead of Columbus Day, which is traditionally celebrated on the second Monday in October.

“The program features the former mascot of Dartmouth College, which is officially no longer in use due to the racist stereotypes it perpetuates,” the statement said. “Studies show the damaging effects of such images on Native peoples and young people of all races. The promotion of racist mascots creates noninclusive learning environments for Native students, compounds challenges in promoting accurate portrayals of Indigenous cultures and traditions and perpetuates prejudice and discrimination against Native peoples.”

In its statement, ANAAY also thanked Yale Athletics for its apology and said they look forward to working with the athletics administration to “prevent future circulation of blatantly racist images of Indigenous peoples.”

“I think the program cover adds to the sense that students have that the University makes a number of racially insensitive decisions that makes certain groups feel unconsidered,” Onyx Brunner ’20, who posted the image of the cover on Overheard at Yale, told the News. “The people in the administration and those who oversee these decisions need to be more cognizant of what imagery would be considered painful or problematic.”

Dartmouth was originally founded as a school to educate Native American youth. Though it later abandoned this mission, the college retained the Indian as a mascot until 1974, when its trustees deemed the mascot “inconsistent with present institutional and academic objectives of the college in advancing Native American education.”

Throughout the season, the programs have included historic covers from the archives for all home games.

  • Mike Harrington

    I have to wonder how many of those offended by the Dartmouth game program were actually at Yale Bowl on Saturday. Damned few, I’d guess.

    C. Michael Harrington, TD’69

  • ShadrachSmith

    As imaginary proletariats struggling to be free of white devil masters go…this is pretty weak 🙂

  • NYAttorney

    Now even football programs need to come with trigger warnings.

  • Patricia Kane

    “the artwork, while historic, was not featured with the intention of condoning racially insensitive stereotype.”
    As my Grandmother used to say, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”
    Studies show that current racism is more unconscious than conscious. But it still perpetuates stereotypes and perpetuates harm against others who are not you.

    Would we allow a pipeline through Arlington National Cemetery? Then how do we justify doing it through sacred native peoples’ lands?
    We have a long way to go in recognizing when images and words do damage.

    • JK Noff

      There’s a metro stop being built in Rome-in the middle of a Underground Barracks and a Legion burial ground-that will open in 2020. So much for sacred ground. Get a grip. We’re talking about old football programs!

  • SaltyAlumni

    This is insanity. Where does it stop? The only thing offensive about this situation is the sensitivity of the students.

  • bwayjunction

    Oh, please, can you give it a rest.

  • Joseph Asch ’79

    What’s with the use of the term Native American??? Next time you are in DC, visit the National Museum of the American INDIAN:

    • Ralph Siegler

      Even Columbus quickly realized he had not reached the Indies and was only about halfway round the globe. People should have stopped using the term for indigenous peoples in the Americas in the 15th century! You only point out how ignorant and stupid politicians are in naming things

  • J. Gatsby

    The students who are offended need to take some chill pill.

  • castorag

    I believe that the fact that so many people recognize this ancient artwork as representative of its contemporaneous racism is sufficient evidence that 1) nobody would do that anymore because they now know better and 2) the current students need to recognize how far we’ve come since 1) is true. Nobody in his mature right mind could think otherwise. Do we stop publishing historical images from WWII because the atrocities there are (we hope) unthinkable to modern minds?

    • ScienceProf69

      so we should feel very comfortable using Berlin 1936 posters – really interesting, ancient artwork, btw, for promoting modern Olympic games, according to your (flawed) logic. what’s the big deal? everyone should know better, right?

  • whalerfan

    Come on. Grow a pair. It’s not like these were printed yesterday.

  • ScienceProf69

    It is somewhat surprising, just a bit, to witness clueless at Yale. Even the wording of the apology indicates a disconnect from reality and gravity of this bad judgement.

  • Dan

    Self righteous hypocrites, get over it and come to grips with fact everyone’s feeling will be hurt at some point in life. Using same mentality we could ban 90% of your music!

  • MotoRiderX

    I thought Yale was an academic institution? Should Yale apologize for using imagery from Nazi Germany to educate students on the horrors of WWII? Should Yale stop educating people on slavery so they don’t offend? Does Yale have to hide all historical media that depicts any race, religon, creed, color, or gender in a potentially negative way, although it can be educational and insightful?

    I highly doubt that the people that put the current program together had any racial bashing agenda in mind. These covers are part of Yates history, like it or not, and showcasing them in this way helps people learn the crazy stereotypes of the past. Are they PC now, absolutley not, but they also didn’t create them now.

    learn from the past or you’re doomed to repeat it. Don’t hide and apologize for atrocities of the past, learn from them, discuss them, but never be sorry for brining them to light.

  • Vigilabo_Vigilum

    Once again, delicate little snowflakes don’t have the intellect to view historical material in context.

  • Chris Mosher

    By all accounts, every time a Native American drives by the plimoth plantation in masachusetts, should we have a blaring loudspeaker that apologizes? Should we install a huge mea culpa monument at the shelburne museum in Vermont? Wait, what about this picture? I guess this should never be shown, either…

    • Hieronymus Machine

      Actually, the “People of the Dawn” got their own homesite back in 1973.
      (“No costumes, please.”)

  • WhoCheckedRussia’sVoterID

    Bollocks to those playing the “PC” card. Out of the many covers to pick from, they had to pick not one but three with insulting depictions on them? With the robotic “apology” to boot? I mean really…

  • Etchi

    No longer will images of anything be allowed. All pictures will be replaced by an eggshell color picture with a dot in the middle. Except for fluffy bunnies of course everyone loves cute little fluffy bunnies.

  • kinarow1

    I’m waiting for Yale to change the name of Yale … after all, Elihu Yale was a slave owner.

  • squire haggard

    Maybe Yale can donate some land for a casino.

  • Greg Thrasher

    When will Yale change its name given Elihu Yale owned slaves