[ View the story "Native Americans speak up about 'Redskins' name controversy" on Storify] Native Americans speak up about 'Redskins' name controversy Pressure builds for the Washington Redskins football team to change their name.
AJAMStream· Fri, Oct 18 2013 15:42:33
@jensalan @loisnam @AJAMStream @meganpratz as a DC local, artist, activist & Native person, we need 2 b included in the talk #changethenameGregg Deal
Native American artist and Washington, DC resident Gregg Deal emphasizes the need to include Native voices in the discussion in the following video:
Deal also compiled this video of Native Americans voicing their opinion on the team's name to show solidarity among indigenous people around the country.
#changethename part 1Gregg Deal
Native American activist
noted that Native perspectives are rarely highlighted in conversations about the team mascot.
But what’s been discouraging is the reliance that some of our people have on the non-Native liberal champions of the Redskins discussion. Who cares? The Natives who want this discussion to happen should care 100% more about what Native people think about the Redskins, and whether the name is offensive, than what non-Natives think about the Redskins. I don’t know why the champions of this cause haven’t thought about bringing this discussion to us, to the people who are the actual stakeholder in this discussion. Natives.indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com
The Oneida tribe is also actively
to get the name dropped.
"It's a dictionary-defined offensive term," Ray Halbritter, a prominent leader of the Oneida Indian Nation, told Agence France-Presse. "Washington's team name is a painful epitaph that was used against my people, Indian people, when we were held at gunpoint and thrown off our lands."america.aljazeera.com
The controversy has also reached Congress, with Representative
, one of two Native members of Congress,
the team's name is derogatory.
“Come on. This is the 21st century. This is the capital of political correctness on the planet,” he said. “It is very, very, very offensive. This isn’t like warriors or chiefs. It’s not a term of respect, and it’s needlessly offensive to a large part of our population. They just don’t happen to live around Washington, D.C.”rollcall.com
The report points to the fact that harmful “Indian” mascots exist while Native peoples remain targets of hate crime higher than any other groups, citing Department of Justice analysis that “American Indians are more likely than people of other races to experience violence at the hands of someone of a different race.” The report also reviews in-depth studies that show the harm negative stereotypes and “Indian” sports mascots have on Native youth. The rate of suicide is highest for Native young people at 18 percent, twice the rate of the next highest of 8.4 percent among non-Hispanic white youth.ncai.org
However, some question whether the mascot issue matters to a majority of Native Americans. A widely
2004 poll from the Annenberg Public Policy Center says that 90% of Native Americans are not bothered by the term 'Redskins.'
Most American Indians say that calling Washington’s professional football team the “Redskins” does not bother them, the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey shows. Ninety percent of Indians took that position, while 9 percent said they found the name “offensive.” One percent had no answer.annenbergpublicpolicycenter.org
A few Native Americans have responded by criticizing the poll's methodology:
@lisa_fletch @AJAMStream That poll is cited everywhere, but has major methodological errors & issues. http://newspaperrock.bluecorncomics.com/2012/12/annenbergs-redskins-survey.htmlAdrienne K.
If the Sports Illustrated survey is anything like the Annenberg survey, both are skewed toward the non-Indian, mainstream, conservative position. Granted, a better poll probably wouldn't reverse the results, with Indians opposing mascots 90-10%. The true feeling toward "Redskins" and other team names and mascots is probably somewhere in the middle, not at either extreme.newspaperrock.bluecorncomics.com
Sportswriter Rick Reilly also quoted his father-in-law, Blackfeet Elder Bob Burns, in a column
the use of the name.
"The whole issue is so silly to me," says Bob Burns, my wife's father and a bundle holder in the Blackfeet tribe. "The name just doesn't bother me much. It's an issue that shouldn't be an issue, not with all the problems we've got in this country."espn.go.com
But Burns later responded in a
for Indian Country Today, saying he was misquoted and finds the name "insulting and offensive."
“Redskins” is part of that mentality from colonial times when our people were hunted by soldiers and mercenaries who were paid for the scalps of our men, women and children. How can anyone claim this is a proud tradition to come from? The labels, racism and hatred that Indian people continue to experience are directly tied to those racial slurs. Let me be clear: The racial slur “redskins” is not okay with me. It’s never going to be okay with me. It’s inappropriate, damaging and racist.indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com
The question over the team's name has become a hot-button issue this football season. A recently
ad from the NCAI, seen below, shows the issue is long-standing and spreads beyond the Washington football team.
The Stream asked the Native American community: What do you think about using Native Americans as team mascots?
@AJAMStream Mascots reduce a vibrant, contemporary community of 565+ tribes into a one-sided stereotype, which erases our modern existence.Adrienne K.
@AJAMStream the problem with even neutral names like “Seminoles” is when the fans turn us into a caricature, regardless of how the team actsJulian Kussman
@lisa_fletch @AJAMStream if anyone called my parents (now deceased) an R-word... Words would be had. Unacceptable!Samantha Nephew
Are you Native American? What are your thoughts on the Washington football team's name?