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|LONDON， Aug. 8 (Xinhua) -- A lecturer in American history at Britain's University of Southampton has hit out at an English rugby club over its ""Red Indian"" branding.
Manhattan-born Dr Rachel Herrmann has called on Exeter Chiefs rugby club to drop its theme saying it is insulting to Native Americans. The club， based in the county of Devon， currently play in the English Premiership， the top level of domestic rugby union in England.
Herrmann's intervention has generated a hostile debate in local media along England's south coast， with fans of the club， insisting the branding should stay.
The row resembles campaigns in the US calling for some of the big-name clubs， such as the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Redskins， to drop names associated with Native Americans.
At Exeter， some fans go to games with ""war paint"" on their faces and feathered head-dresses， cheering on the club's mascot， Big Chief at their home base， Sandy Park. Their second team is known as the Exeter Braves.
Herrmann has criticised the club for using the imagery in its branding， and merchandise such as its 'Little Big Chief' soft toy. She also takes issue with fans waving inflatable tomahawk axes.
Herrmann told the Express and Echo newspaper in Exeter: ""The Chiefs' name and their apparel are problems because they reference the practice of scalping， they erase Native Americans today， and they evoke a history of violent settler colonialism.
""We need to remember that pretending to be Native American， whether through dressing like some composite picture of what an Indian should look like or by calling your team the Chiefs， stems from a long legacy of anti-Indian violence， land grabs， and ethnic cleansing. The Chiefs rewrote their own history in 1999 (when the current branding was introduced). Perhaps another rebranding is in order.""
The furore erupted after an article by Herrmann appeared in an on-line website， Imperial and Global Forum， under the heading: ""Playing Indian"": Exeter Rugby in a Postcolonial Age"". The blog is run by the Center for Imperial and Global History at the University of Exeter.
In the article， Herrmann wrote: ""In the nineteenth century， white Americans played Indian at the same time that they tried to convince themselves that actual Indians had disappeared-they hadn't. And although the U.S. government never formalized a policy of genocide to make Native Americans disappear， the 1780s and 1790s were ""marked by genocidal acts"".
Officials at Exeter Chiefs told Xinhua Monday: ""We are not making any comment on this，"" but fans have been quick to defend the name and the branding with almost 9 out of 10 in a newspaper poll saying it should stay.
Phil Briard from the Exeter Chiefs' supporters' club told the newspaper: ""They are not doing it to be disrespectful to the Native American Indians， they are doing it to support the Exeter Chiefs Rugby Club.""
In its latest edition the Express and Echo poses the question: ""Is it time for Exeter Chiefs to bury the tomahawks?"" It provoked angry attacks against Herrmann for raising the issue.
In London， the sensitivities over the use of Native American branding has led the ice hockey team， Streatham Redskins to drop the name. From the 2016-17 season it is to be called the Streatham Ice Hockey Club. Announcing the change， the ice hockey club said: ""As a progressive and forward looking team we have decided to drop the Redskins name from our team.""
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