Since its inception in 1944, NCAI has upheld the mission of preserving the rights and cultures of American Indians living across the United States. Additionally, the organization also focuses on enhancing the lives of the Native populations that it serves. NCAI continually works toward these goals by operating a number of campaigns that highlight and celebrate tribal heritage.
In 1968, NCAI established a campaign that aimed to bring attention to the harmful representations of Native individuals that permeate various aspects of popular culture. Known as the “Proud to Be” campaign, this initiative later expanded its focus to the “Indian” caricatures that many sports teams have used as mascots since the early 1960s.
Looking to abolish such portrayals of indigenous peoples, NCAI has sought to educate the public about the negative effects that these mascots can cause. The organization has found that, over the years, these representations have cultivated stereotypical views of Native people that have given rise to hate crimes and caused psychological harm among the population of Native youth.
Through its “Proud to Be” campaign, NCAI has garnered staggering support from both Native and non-Native communities. The initiative has encouraged all manner of tribal entities, schools, and sporting organizations to call for the eradication of “Indian” mascots. Through the dedication of NCAI and its supporters, the “Proud to Be” campaign has already eliminated more than 2,000 negative representations of Native peoples in the sporting world.