Exeter Chiefs to drop Native American branding

Exeter Chiefs' new logo
Exeter’s new logo is based on the Celtic helmets known to be worn in and around 300 BC

Exeter Chiefs are to end their Native American-themed branding this summer.

The club had received criticism for continued use of Native American imagery and announced last year that they were reviewing their branding.

Exeter will keep their ‘Chiefs’ nickname but will now use imagery from the Celtic Iron Age Dumnonii Tribe.

“We are excited to welcome in the next era of rugby within Exeter,” said Exeter chairman and chief executive Tony Rowe in a statement.

“Exeter has and always will be the most important term in our overall identity. The term Chiefs, however, is equally entrenched in our make-up, going back to over a century ago when teams in this region would regularly call their first teams that of the Chiefs,” Rowe added.

“As a rugby club we have been willing to listen, we have consulted far and wide, and now we are ready to invoke change.

“This is a new direction for our great club, but equally it’s an exciting vision that I’ve no doubt will propel us onwards and upwards over time.

“Our new imagery will bring to life the pride our supporters have to support their club, unifying us all under one brand that underlines all of our core traditions.”

‘Dehumanising stereotypes’

A number of clubs have asked visiting Exeter fans not to wear Native American-themed headdresses to their away matches this season after criticism of the club’s branding by the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI).

In October Dante Desiderio, the NCAI’s chief executive, said “Native ‘themed’ mascot imagery and the dehumanising stereotypes it perpetuates must go.”

The club first received criticism over its branding – which as well as a Native American on the club’s crest, also includes places such as the ‘Wigwam Bar’ and ‘Campfire Grill’ in their home ground at Sandy Park – in 2020 following a petition by some fans.

At the time Exeter decided to drop their mascot ‘Big Chief’ but retain the rest of their branding.

In the United States, Washington’s American football team chose to drop their controversial Redskins name and logo, while Cleveland’s baseball team has changed its name from the Indians to the Guardians.

More to follow.


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