The Redskins Debate

I have spoken earlier about the whole kerfuffle about the use of Native American terms as team names and now it seems to be continually picking up steam. While I agree that it can be deemed offensive there are other teams name that could be considered offensive as well. Also it seems that we have become so litigious of a society and everything has to be Politically Correct at all times.

The Redskins logo and name date back to when the team played in Boston and were called the Braves. The change to Redskin came about in 1933 and according to the Boston Herald it was “to distinguish it from the Braves baseball team and the team that is to be coached by an Indian (Lone Star Dietz)… with several Indian players.” Recently researchers have discovered that Dietz may not have been a Native American, and faked his way as an Indian for most of his life. However we should also remember that owner George Preston Marshall was racist and the team only got a black player at the urging of the government “Get a black player or you can’t play at DC (RFK) stadium”

It wasn’t until 1992 when people started to make any noise. it started with an article that states that it was a racial slur and should be changed, the owner of the Cleveland Indians (home of Chief Wahoo) was quick to jump on this and add that if he owned the team he would change the name immedately. Yet in 92 there were a slew of surveys that took place and 89% said that name should stay and 90% or Native American were not offended by it. Then again there was no big push to change the name when the team wasn’t playing well in the early 2000s

Bob Costas and other Journalist have expressed that it is an Insult and a slur and that it should not be used, some of them are no longer referring to the team as the Redskins opting for that team from Washington, or as the Pigskins. The Oneida Indiana Nation has been protesting with radio ads and at game throughout the season. In May ten members of Congress sent a letter to Dan Snyder and Roger Goodell asking for it to be changed. Even President Obama when asked suggested that he would change the name if he were the owner of the team. According to the vox populi of Sports broadcasters this is something that needs to be changed and it needs to be changed soon.

However Walt “Red Hawk” Brown, chief of the Cheroenhaka Nottoway Tribe has stated that  the name could be offensive to Western or Canadian tribes, but it isn’t to him, and in response to Obama’s remarks he adds that the thing that is offensive to him is that the state of Virginia has 11 officially recognized tribes and none of these are federally recognized. I agree that the recognition of a tribe or groups of tribes is a more pressing issue that the name of a sports team.

In sports there are a bunch of teams that can be vaguely defined as offensive, Atlanta Flames, Yankees, Fighting Irish, and others as well. Some could argue that the Cowboys can be seen a violent gunslingers. This is one of the major sticking points in the name change the whole Cowboys rivalry is geared on the animosity between Cowboys and Indians. So I do not think when the name changes it will be a wholesale change but rather a tweak to the name but staying with the Native American imagery. Sure if I owned the team I’d embrace the Native culture and do like other team have done and come to some arrangement with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and give a portion of the merchandising revenue to fund things like the Indian Health Service or something like that which would benefit the American Indians as a whole.

By having a team that embraces the roots of America in\near the Nation’s Capital is a major deal. If only this discussion would move to a more general one about the state of the American Indians as they tend to be ignored and neglected by a majority of us.

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4 thoughts on “The Redskins Debate

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