Skip to main content
Imagining the Indian: The Fight Against Native American Mascoting

Film Screening and Panel Discussion

April 2nd, 2024 — 6:00 to 9:00 PM
Ming Hsieh Hall, G21
1600 University Ave, 

Morgantown, WV

Free and open to the public

Woman in Native American earrings, necklace and shirt smiles

Film SynopsisImagining the Indian is a comprehensive examination of the movement to eradicate the words, images, and gestures that many Native Americans and their allies find demeaning and offensive. The film takes a deep-dive into the issues through archival footage and interviews with those involved in the fight. The psychological research is clear, the use of Native American mascots is detrimental, not only to Native people, but to marginalized groups everywhere. Learn more at

Presented by — the West Virginia University Leadership Studies Program with Native American Studies and co-sponsored by the West Virginia University Humanities Center.

WVU Leadership Studies Program
WVU Native American Studies Program
WVU Humanities Center
WVU Eberly College of Arts and Sciences

Panel Speakers

Male with short dark hair and dark eyes wears a striped button down and jacket.

Ben West
(Co-Director, Co-Producer) (Cheyenne)

Ben is a freelance writer/producer, filmmaker and a consultant with the Ciesla Foundation. He spent many years in television production at Carsey-Werner Mandabach LLC, and has worked on feature films for companies like Mandalay Pictures, Telenova Productions, and outlets such as the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian. He is currently developing content for television and film. In addition to his endeavors in entertainment, he is Cheyenne and an advocate for Native American rights. West was born and raised in Washington, D.C. and is a graduate of the Annenberg School of Communication at the University of Southern California. 

Male with dark eyes, hair, and beard wears a dress jacket, tie and coat.

Yancey Burns
(Co-Producer) (WVU Alum)

Yancey Burns is a 2019 graduate of the George Washington University Documentary Film Center. He wrote and directed the award-winning documentary short, One Fall, which explores the return of independent professional wrestling to the District of Columbia. Prior to filmmaking, he was a practicing attorney, most recently with the Board of Ethics and Government Accountability, where he prosecuted ethical misconduct in DC government. He also owns and manages his family farm in Lincoln County, West Virginia, which produces 100% grass-fed Hereford beef. Burns holds a BS in Journalism from West Virginia University, a JD from the University of the District of Columbia David A. Clarke School of Law, and is currently pursuing an MA in Strategic Communication at the GWU School of Media and Public Affairs.