Native Americans who embrace "Redskins" name for sports teams

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Rick Reilly writes at ESPN.com that Native Americans aren't upset by the use of "Redskins" as a sports team nickname. He starts with anecdotal evidence close to home: His own father-in-law, a member of the Blackfeet tribe and a "bundle holder" -- an important role in tribal ceremony.

"The whole issue is so silly to me.... 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."

Chiefs, on the other hand:

That's one that offends my father-in-law. "You see some little guy wearing a headdress made of chicken feathers," he says, "painting his face up, making a mockery of us. I hate that. Those are things you earn."

Reilly contacted three high schools which proudly wear the name and have a high proportion of Native American students. One of them is here in Oklahoma:

And it's not going to be easy telling the Kingston (Okla.) High School (57.7 percent Native American) Redskins that the name they've worn on their uniforms for 104 years has been a joke on them this whole time. Because they wear it with honor.

"We have two great tribes here," says Kingston assistant school superintendent Ron Whipkey, "the Chicasaw and the Choctaw. And not one member of those tribes has ever come to me or our school with a complaint. It is a prideful thing to them."

"It's a name that honors the people," says Kingston English teacher Brett Hayes, who is Choctaw. "The word 'Oklahoma' itself is Choctaw for 'red people.' The students here don't want it changed. To them, it seems like it's just people who have no connection with the Native American culture, people out there trying to draw attention to themselves.

"My kids are really afraid we're going to lose the Redskin name. They say to me, 'They're not going to take it from us, are they, Dad?'"

Too late. White America has spoken. You aren't offended, so we'll be offended for you.

Reilly also cites a school in Arizona with a 99.3% Native American student body and a school in Washington where the Native American percentage is 91.2%. He says the lack of offense isn't just documented in anecdotes (link to poll added):

And even though an Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans were not offended by the Redskins name, and even though linguists say the "redskins" word was first used by Native Americans themselves, and even though nobody on the Blackfeet side of my wife's family has ever had someone insult them with the word "redskin," it doesn't matter. There's no stopping a wave of PC-ness when it gets rolling.

Indeed. That's what happened here in Tulsa with Brady Street and the Brady District. Some people got it into their heads that the name was not just offensive, but uniquely offensive in a way that (1) required immediate action on this offense but (2) did not require considering the many other names that might be as offensive or even more so. Rather than develop a consistent ethical rule by which names would be evaluated objectively, outrage is focused on one name. Putting a general rule in place would settle the matter and deprive the outrage-mongers of gainful employment.

Sometimes it's hard to escape the conclusion that the people pushing these name changes just want the top of someone's head as a trophy.

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2 Comments

The A Team said:

Yeah, why would anyone get offended by the term redskin, geez[sarcasm off]:

During the entire history of America until the turn of the Twentieth century, Indigenous Americans were hunted, killed, and forcibly removed from their lands by European settlers. This includes the paying of bounties beginning in the colonial period with, for example, a proclamation against the Penobscot Indians in 1755 issued by King George II of Great Britain, known commonly as the Phips Proclamation. The proclamation orders, “His Majesty’s subjects to Embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and Destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians.” The colonial government paid 50 pounds for scalps of males over 12 years, 25 pounds for scalps of women over 12, and 20 pounds for scalps of boys and girls under 12. Twenty-five British pounds sterling in 1755, worth around $9,000 today —a small fortune in those days when an English teacher earned 60 pounds a year. Since the proclamation itself does not use the word, citing it as the origin of "redskin" as another word for scalp has also been called "revisionist history". However, an historical association between the use of "redskin" and the paying of bounties can be made. In 1863, a Winona, MN newspaper, the Daily Republican, printed among other announcements: "The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth."

I'd rather see these teams be named Red Sticks, especially inside Tribal territories or with high populations of Native Americans:

Red Sticks is the English language term for a traditionalist faction of Muscogee Creek people in the American Southeast in the early 19th century. They led a resistance movement to European-American encroachment and assimilation; the tensions culminated in the outbreak of the Creek War in 1813. Initially a civil war among the Creek, the conflict drew in United States state forces, when the nation was already engaged in the War of 1812 against the British.
The term "red sticks" was derived from their red-colored war clubs and the ceremonial red sticks used by Creek medicine men. This faction was made up mostly of Creek of the Upper Towns, who supported traditional leadership and culture, including the preservation of communal land for cultivation and hunting.

Agreed that the treatment of Native Americans by the United States was one of the most disgraceful episodes in its history, but this happened over a hundred and twenty five years ago. The plain truth is that Native Americans did not know that they were supposed to be offended by the "Redskin" label until the progressive media informed them. No better evidence of this can be found than in the multiple Native American-dominated scholastic sports teams calling themselves Redskins.

There is in fact almost no hatred or other bad will by Americans directed at Native Americans. This is because the Native Americans were successfully herded onto their reservations, out of sight and sound of most other inhabitants of North America.

In the end the progressive media will win, as they always do in matters of political correctness, because they control the debate. And when this little incident is over, will the progressives move ahead with equal fervor to press upon the American people the need to address other Native American problems such as rampant unemployment and extremely high rates of substance abuse?

Of course not! That would just bore their audience and send their reporters who specialize in Native American affairs back into obscurity.

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This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on February 3, 2014 12:01 PM.

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