Devon

Exeter Chiefs urged to change 'offensive' name by Native American expert

Exeter Chiefs flags being flown by flags and close up of logo Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The rugby club has been criticised for its use of Native American imagery on shirts and elsewhere

Exeter Chiefs rugby club has been urged to change its name and stop "playing Indian" by an expert in Native American history.

Dr Rachel Herrmann from the University of Southampton has denounced the team, which rebranded as Chiefs in 1999, for its use of Native American imagery.

She said it evoked "Britain's forgotten imperial American past".

A spokesman for the club said they had no comment to make on the claims, nor the call to change its name.

More on this story about the Exeter Chiefs, and others from Devon and Cornwall

In the US, Native American campaigners have been calling on teams like the Washington Redskins to change its name, describing it as racist and offensive.

Dr Herrmann said: "I think changing [Exeter's] name would be the ultimate step but I don't know whether that is likely to happen.

"I would at least like to see an engaged discussion between the team and Native American groups that could better explain why the name might be offensive."

Image caption There have been protests in the US over the name of NFL team Washington Redskins

Cultural appropriation

Dr Hermann criticised rugby fans who waved tomahawks, wore Native American headdress and war paint, and said it evoked a history of settler colonialism.

The expert said it also ignores modern Native Americans who no longer dress in that way and the protests of those who have spoken out "against such cultural appropriation".

Exeter Rugby Club rebranded as Exeter Chiefs in 1999 shortly after the team turned professional.

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