Saturday, August 23, 2014

Do All Native Americans Consider "Redskins" A Racial Slur?

What's in a name? Apparently a lot, at least when it comes to the pro football team the Washington Redskins. Some 80 plus years later and people are now raging about how racist the name 'Redskins' is.

Apparently, the owner George Preston Marshall- who named the team Redskins after his coach William 'Lonestar' Dietz who claimed to be an Indian but probably was not- was a racist, but I would venture to say not than many people consider the name a racial slur. Other than congress, Barack Obama, the Oneida Indian Nation and the liberal PC folk, there is no indication as to how many Indians find it offensive.

The Oneida Indian Nation is at the forefront of the campaign to get the Redskins to change their name, but there are others who are not in the least bit offended.

There are Native American schools that call their teams Redskins. The term is used affectionately by some natives, similar to the way the N-word is used by some African-Americans. In the only recent poll to ask native people about the subject, 90 percent of respondents did not consider the term offensive, although many question the cultural credentials of the respondents.

All of which underscores the oft-overlooked diversity within Native America.

“Marginalized communities are too often treated monolithically,” said Carter Meland, a professor of American Indian Studies at the University of Minnesota.

“Stories on the mascot issue always end up exploring whether it is right or it is wrong, respectful or disrespectful,” said Meland, an Ojibwe Indian.

He believes Indian mascots are disrespectful, but said: “It would be interesting to get a sense of the diversity of opinion within a native community.”

Those communities vary widely.

Tommy Yazzie, superintendent of the Red Mesa school district on the Navajo Nation reservation, grew up when Navajo children were forced into boarding schools to disconnect them from their culture. Some were punished for speaking their native language. Today, he sees environmental issues as the biggest threat to his people.

The high school football team in his district is the Red Mesa Redskins.

“We just don’t think that (name) is an issue,” Yazzie said. “There are more important things like busing our kids to school, the water settlement, the land quality, the air that surrounds us. Those are issues we can take sides on.”

“Society, they think it’s more derogatory because of the recent discussions,” Yazzie said. “In its pure form, a lot of Native American men, you go into the sweat lodge with what you’ve got — your skin. I don’t see it as derogatory.”

Neither does Eunice Davidson, a Dakota Sioux who lives on the Spirit Lake reservation in North Dakota. “It more or less shows that they approve of our history,” she said.

More on the story here.

Some feel that even if one person is offended by something, then it is our duty to address that issue. I say, put on your big boy or girl pants and deal. If everyone is offended, then do something about it.

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