The Yale football team is in a bit of hot water. At this past Saturday’s Yale vs. Dartmouth football game, Yale distributed a program that featured a historical retrospective of Yale-Dartmouth football programs from games of decades past. It seems innocuous on the surface but if one takes a closer look at the previous covers of these programs, it becomes painfully obvious that this was a major misstep.
By way of background, Dartmouth College was a school founded to educate Native Americans. Before Dartmouth became the Big Green, there was the Dartmouth Indian. And while the school remains more committed, we’d argue, than any institution in the world in educating Native Americans, the school did away with its old mascot for a reason (hint hint: Washington Redskins). As an article up on “USA Today” points out, it wasn’t just that the program cover featured images of the Dartmouth Indian. It’s how the school’s mascot was portrayed. “One of the images, from Nov. 4, 1944, shows an illustration of a Yale football player setting fire to a Native American man’s clothing while the man screams in agony.”
Yale Athletics unsurprisingly promptly issued a strong apology: “Our intention was to recognize the 100-game relationship between Dartmouth College and Yale University. We are truly sorry for the hurt this program cover caused, particularly for those from Native American communities. Yale Athletics is committed to representing the best of Yale and upholding the University’s values, especially respect for all.”