There has been a major new development in the story surrounding Exeter Chiefs and it’s branding which includes a Native American Indian character wearing Chiefs kit.

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There have been calls for the Chiefs the remove their ‘racist’ and ‘culturally appropriating’ branding which the club has used since 1999.

A petition for Exeter Chiefs to entirely change their branding has gathered steam overnight with 131 signatures.

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In the past 24 hours, a new logo has been presented to the club by the public showing a logo which would omit Native American symbolism from the badge.

The club revisits this debate after there were calls in 2018 for the club to change the commercial identity of the club.

The Exeter Chiefs introduced new branding in 1999 including the head of a Native American in a head-dress as the club logo. They have a mascot called Big Chief, a Native American Indian character wearing Chiefs kit and holding an inflatable tomahawk.

The imagery and dressing up by fans with head-dresses and tomahawks have come in for criticism from some quarters in recent years, with claims that ‘playing Indian’ is insulting to Native Americans.

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Exeter Chiefs has seen a large increase in calls for fans to rethink their branding in recent days.

 

On social media, the club was set to announce their new club shirt on Twitter, however, the majority of the replies that the club received on this post had the public demanding a change in their branding.

The petition is set to reach three hundred signatures today.

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Below is a description of the petition.

“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 Native American imagery that has no relation whatsoever to the history of the club, or the city. Tony Rowe is quoted as saying the history of the ‘Chiefs’ brand dates back no further than the 90s – 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 Native American 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 Native American 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 Native American people 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.”

The petition can be found here.

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