Yale University Athletics has apologized for the controversial artwork on the cover of the football program from Saturday’s game against Dartmouth College.
The cover features past game day programs with the unofficial Native American mascot Dartmouth dropped decades ago for being racially insensitive.
“We are truly sorry for the hurt this program cover caused, particularly for those from Native American communities,” Yale Athletics said in a statement on Sunday. “Yale Athletics is committed to representing the best of Yale and upholding the University's values, especially respect for all.”
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As the Yale Bulldogs won their first game of the season, the program commemorating the school’s 100th game against its Ivy League rival circulated in the Yale Bowl stands.
“It’s very clearly caricatures of native people, right, like that’s not what native people look like,” Kodi Alvord, a Yale senior, said.
Alvord said he attended the game to support Native American students in the band, but he did not see the cover.
Soon after, he received an email from the director of the Yale Native American Cultural center.
“She really wanted to make sure we’d seen it,” he said.
Alvord described his initial reaction to the controversial artwork as surprised.
“I thought this was an issue that had been settled a while ago, Dartmouth retired it,” he said.
Alvord said he is disappointed in his university “for propagating imagery that has already been deemed inappropriate for a space that claims to be about intellectual discussion and accurate history.”
The executive director for the Yale Indigenous Performing Arts program Mary Kathryn Nagle tweeted, “Cannot believe that @Yale & #Dartmouth would use such dehumanizing images of #Redface at a football game.”
“We apologize for [Saturday's] football game program cover that included historic artwork of insulting portrayals of indigenous people, images that we have long considered to be a violation of our values of mutual respect, equality, and decency,” the Yale Athletics statement said, “ We did not intend to perpetuate these portrayals or condone them.”
Alvord said the Native American community at Yale scored a victory Monday. In a campus-wide email, Yale President Peter Salovey recognized the second Monday of October as Indigenous Peoples Day, not just Columbus Day.
“I don’t think it came from a malevolent place,” Alvord said of the decision to publish the football program cover. “I think it came from a very widespread sense of ignorance about native people, most people don’t know what it’s like to exist as an indigenous person.”