The Washington, D.C. NFL team is named the Redskins; it has been for over 80 years. It was named the Boston Braves when it was in Boston.
Fans of the team call themselves Redskin Nation. They are everywhere; they include presidents, senators, congressmen, Henry Kissinger and lots of people despite Washington not being a very large city.
A New York State recognized Native American tribe, the Oneida, is trying to change the name because, the tribe says, 'Redskins' demeans and insults “Native Americans,” a relatively new politically correct term. It is designed to replace “American Indian,” or just “Indian.” The Oneida tribe finances its campaign against the 'Redskin' name from its tax-free gambling casino.
One rung below professional football, this same general “team names” campaign against ethnic “insulting” has been running rampant at the college level since protesters forced California’s elite private Stanford University to change its team name – the Stanford Indians – to the Stanford Cardinal.
Interesting how the two sub-tribes split on the issue, just as tribes split on the 'Redskin' name for the DC football team. A Virginia tribe’s Chairman (Chief) is a Redskin fan and thinks the name is just fine. Oneida does not.
- Raoul Lowery Contreras
Since then the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has been forcing colleges and universities to change names the NCAA considers “insulting” of American Indian (Amerindian) people. The NCAA is an illegal cartel, an illegal monopoly in the eyes of many.
The NCAA threatens colleges and universities with withdrawal of athletic recognition ability to compete with an NCAA schools.
The Associated Press carried this report in April, 2011:
“BISMARCK, N.D. -- A new state law that orders the University of North Dakota to keep its Fighting Sioux nickname won't shield the school from penalties for continuing to use a moniker the NCAA considers hostile to American Indians, an NCAA executive told the school Tuesday.
The law, which says UND must use the nickname and a logo featuring the profile of an American Indian warrior, "cannot change the NCAA policy" against using American Indian nicknames, logos or mascots that are considered offensive, said Bernard Franklin, an NCAA executive vice president.
In a letter to UND President Robert Kelley, Franklin said the university must follow an agreement it made in October 2007 to discontinue using the nickname and logo by Aug. 15, 2011, unless it received approval from North Dakota's Spirit Lake and Standing Rock Sioux tribes (one tribe, two reservations).
Spirit Lake tribal members endorsed the nickname and logo in a referendum, and the tribe's governing council followed. The Standing Rock Sioux's tribal council, which has long opposed the nickname, has declined to change its stand.”
Interesting how the two sub-tribes split on the issue, just as tribes split on the 'Redskin' name for the D.C. football team. A Virginia tribe’s Chairman (Chief) is a Redskin fan and thinks the name is just fine. Oneida does not.
NCAA policy must mean it reacts if anyone is “offended,” not a majority or plurality, just one person.
This is an ongoing national dispute, which also is close to this writer’s alma mater, San Diego State University.
Since the first San Diego State team was fielded almost 100 years ago, the team’s nickname has been, by student vote – the Aztecs. As the college campus was built on what was called Montezuma Mesa the name Aztecs is not coincidental.
Every American history student knows who Montezuma was; he was the Aztec Emperor of one of the world’s largest empires in 1519 when 200 Spanish soldiers of fortune led by Hernando Cortes landed in Mexico and with the help of Mexican Indian allies conquered the Aztec Empire and founded the modern world as we know it.
Several years ago, fewer than 10 Amerindian students and Anglo-fellow travelers on the San Diego State campus challenged the use of the Aztec nickname using the North Dakota University case as precedent. The protest received some serious attention because the local newspaper editorial staff fell for the entire protest which had no basis whatsoever.
First of all, there is no Aztec tribe today. Secondly, the Aztecs merely passed through what is now the United States of America on their way south to the Valley of Mexico. The Aztecs were never an American tribe.
Thirdly, the university blew off the complaint then scheduled a referendum on the subject. The Aztec name won with more than 95 percent yes votes.
The NCAA can stuff it. So can those that protest the name “Redskins.”
My favorite television advertisement showed longtime Dallas Cowboy (NFL team) coach Tom Landry, cowboy hat and range dust coat walking out of a western saloon remarking about avoiding trouble in the form of Redskins — as several football players walked by him wearing NFL Redskin uniforms with the patented Redskins logo on their helmets.
When he said “Redskins,” for a millisecond I fully expected to see a buckskin clad Amerindian with a feather head dress and bow and arrow (Johnny Depp?); I heartily laughed when I saw the “Washington Redskins” football players, Landry’s most competitive opponents.
It was a credit card commercial; I laughed so hard I still remember it to this day.
Redskins, it is.
Raoul Lowery Contreras is a political consultant.