The word “redskins” makes most people think of an NFL sports team, but for others it’s an offensive term for Native Americans. Washington’s NFL team The Redskins has had protests against, and opposition to, their name for decades. In 2013 the issue surfaced again due to massive groups protesting the name outside of stadiums in cities where they played. A recent episode of The Daily Show featured a panel of supporters of the name who were then confronted by actual Native American people. It was very uncomfortable for the supporters, some of whom tried to keep the segment from airing.
“I believe it is offensive and should be considered a racial epithet,” Native American Caucus Sponsor and LHS football coach Lucas Varley said.
Many groups have been trying to change the name and many people have commented on it, including The National Congress of American Indians, The NAACP, The Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs, and President Barack Obama to name a few. The Washington Redskins team name has been under fire for a long time, and this isn’t just a recent issue. Back in 1972 the Washington Daily News wrote about the name controversy. “It lacks dignity, a haphazard slang word that refers to Indians in general but on a lower scale.” The Washington Post, The Nebraska Journal Star , The Portland Oregonian and The New York Daily news no longer use the term Redskins.
“My dad deals with civil rights litigation, so he’s also told me the name itself is not a good name to have. It’s a derogatory name in a sense so it’s probably best to change it,” Security Entrance Monitor Shannon White said.
Native American sophomore Cisco Merrik-Lopez thinks it shouldn’t have been a name for a football team anyway.
Owner of The Washington Redskins Dan Snyder has made his position about the name change very clear. “We will never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER you can use caps,” Snyder said to USA Today. “You should never speak in absolutes and Dan Snyder has messed around and done that before and messed around and been wrong,” White said.
“I’m assuming that when they formed the team…they thought it would be an honoring thing. It would be a positive thing,” Lincoln High English teacher Rodney Droud said.
“It’s just historical truths, and I’d like them to understand, as I think most do, that the name really means honor, respect,” owner of the Redskins Dan Snyder said to ESPN’s John Barr.
There have been other teams such as The Kansas City Chiefs, The Atlanta Braves, The Chicago Blackhawks, and The Cleveland Indians that have also been under fire. The Cleveland Indians’ mascot, “Chief Wahoo” is just plain offensive and racist. Groups such as The Native American Journalist Association and The Penobscot Indian Nation have asked the Cleveland Indians to retire the name and Mascot. The Cleveland Indians have kept their name and mascot despite this.
“I think it’s stupid, because why would they name a team after a racist [term],” Native American junior Deveron Baxter said.
The Nebraska Commission of Indian affairs requested in 1991 that 27 public schools and the use of Native American Mascots and Nicknames. In 1999, the Nebraska Commission on Indian Affairs issued a resolution calling for all Nebraska schools whose student body is other than predominantly American Indian to end their use of First Nations symbols, mascots, nicknames and logos. However, Bellevue East are the Chieftains, Broken Bow High School are the Indians, and Leyton Public Schools have the Warriors. All of these schools’ mascots depict an image of a Native American. Why is this still okay?
This has been going on long enough. It’s time for all sports teams with Native mascots to change their racist and offensive names once and for all.