Why the Fuss Over Washington Redskins Is Demeaning to American Indians

Why the Fuss Over Washington Redskins is demeaning to Native Americans
Anyone who pays attention to the affairs of Native Americans – or American Indians, as they more often refer to themselves – cannot help but be aware of the numerous problems facing the various tribes, scattered across the United States and cannot but realize that making a fuss about something so trivial as the nickname of a football team, the Washington Redskins, is so utterly demeaning to these people.

Demeaning ethnic minorities, of course, is what is what the Democrat – hardly ‘democratic’ – Party does best. Since the days when they failed to preserve slavery and then, later, failed to stall civil rights legislation, Democrats have so demeaned the black community in this country that it now hangs upon their every word and enthusiastically votes for the ‘Democratic’ Party because most black Americans have been successfully convinced, by Liberals, that they are too poor, too uneducated and too stupid to fend for themselves.

At this moment, the Washington Redskins are wrapping up their week six game against the Arizona Cardinals and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder is, of course, watching the game. Seated right next to him in the stadium is none other than Ben Shelly, President of the Navajo Nation – and Mr. Shelly is wearing a Redskins cap.


For most Liberals, of course, this is a confusing picture, indeed. Isn’t it common knowledge that all American Indians are highly offended by the name ‘Washington Redskins?” In truth, that is absolutely not the case. The US Patent Office, which started the recent fuss over the team’s name – which dates back more than 80 years – had not actually received any complaints from individual Natives, regarding the nickname.

Any time spent around American Indians will reveal the issues that actually do offend them: Housing; education; interference from federal and state governments in their affairs. As this writer knows from personal experience; ask most Indians if they are offended by the name of the NFL team in question and they will smile and shake their heads. Probably, they are wondering why they were asked such a ridiculous question, at all. The truth is that, like every other ethnic group in the United States – including whites – American Indians have their fair share of problems with crime, drugs, unemployment and so on. Many of them may argue that, relative to their numbers, they have more than their fair share.

Writing for U-T San Diego in November of last year, Matt Calkins set out to discover for himself if the Redskins’ nickname was really offensive to Native Americans. He was prompted to do so after seeing a poll, conducted some years before, which asked 768 American Indians if they found the team’s name offensive. In that poll, conducted by the National Annenberg Election Survey, 90 percent of those who participated said…no. Calkins, who seems to have been determined to discover that Indians really were offended by the name, then went out and found 25 Native Americans, to whom he posed the same question. Calkins admits that 88 percent of those he asked said “no.” Obviously determined to ignore empirical evidence and continue to come up with a result that suited his own beliefs – rather like a global warming believer – he concluded, to quote from his article: “After three days on an Indian reservation, I can say this with conviction: The push for this mascot change is absolutely necessary.”

Calkins did not back up that conviction with any concrete evidence, but vaguely discussed how ‘redskin’ is an offensive term. The gaping hole in that argument, however, is very simple: How offensive a term is depends on who is using it and in what context. The perfect example being the N-word: If a white person uses the N-word, it is – apparently – offensive, even though black people use it constantly and argue that it is not offensive, because of the context in which they use it. By the same token, one must remember that there is no reason why a sports team would select a nickname, based on the idea that the nickname in question is derogatory; sports teams choose nicknames that they consider reflect their strength, their spirit, their courage and their determination to overcome their opponents. Thus, the Washington Redskins, clearly, chose that name to reflect the warrior spirit of American Indians.

In credit to Matt Calkins, however, he did go on to point out that the reason most American Indians are so dismissive of the idea that they would find the football team’s nickname offensive is because, as a tribe, a nation or a people, they have much more significant problems to resolve. When Liberals suggest that the Washington Redskins should change their name because it is offensive, they are demeaning Native Americans by implying that these proud people have nothing more to worry about than the name of a sports team.

Opinion by Graham J Noble


Sporting News
U-T San Diego

11 Responses to "Why the Fuss Over Washington Redskins Is Demeaning to American Indians"

  1. McP   October 19, 2014 at 10:23 am

    Go to http://www.changethemascot.org/ and see just how broad the support for change is among Native Americans.

  2. Norm. Ellefson   October 19, 2014 at 9:41 am

    What shoddy journalism. Please do some research and don’t rely on nothing more than anecdotal “finding and Indian” evidence to support your opinion. Within the last 10 years that has been scientific-peer reviewed research studies (Stephanie Fryberg, and Chu Kim-Prieto) that prove scientifically that this imagery promotes stereotyping and discrimination. And Mr. Graham Noble – as you ready yourself to refer to the discredited Sports Illustrated Poll, or the faulty Annenberg Study – you should know that polling is not scientific research. Thanks for providing more ammunition for the movement to once an for all get rid of this awful moniker/nickname and similar imagery.

  3. Erin Pinder Spiceland   October 19, 2014 at 8:38 am

    This is a joke, right? Individuals have been asking for the name to chance since the 1960s. Tribes and native organizations representing 1.3 million out of the ~1.9 million enrolled natives in the US have issued clear, directed requests for them to change the name. For you to say natives aren’t fighting for the change proves you did no research when you wrote this article.

    Your quotation of the Annenberg poll is the nail in your coffin. They didn’t go out and find Native Americans to ask. They went out and found people, asked them if they had any Native American heritage (to which any self-respecting white person will answer “Yes! My great-grandmother was a Cherokee princess!”) They didn’t do any due diligence. The people who answered the Annenberg poll weren’t even non-enrolled natives, they were just plain old Americans with wishful thinking for a family tree.

    • Graham Noble   October 19, 2014 at 8:57 am

      Your comment lacks credibility. Clearly, you are merely repeating the myths about how American Indians feel. Having lived in the southwest United States for 12 years, I had more American Indian friends and co-workers than I can remember – and not just white people who claimed to be one-quarter Cherokee or some such vague family connection, but full-blood Indians who still lived on the rez.

      I have never met a single one who had a problem with the team’s nickname. In fact, I knew more than one who were Redskins fans because of the name.

      So, whilst I am aware that a small and vocal minority of politically-motivated Indians have chosen to make a big deal about it; the undisputed fact remains that most consider the whole issue a non-story.

      BY all means, however, continue to swallow all that politically-correct garbage if you wish.

      • Erin Pinder Spiceland   October 19, 2014 at 9:44 am

        My credibility is that I am a Choctaw-speaking enrolled Choctaw. It’s not a small minority, it’s a large majority.

  4. Gordy Standsalonelone   October 14, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Yes….Advice and Help from the Europeans…. Thanks, but no thanks… Maybe the Blacks community would like your Advice and Help…..Oh that’s right…. the Europeans, their the ones that brought the Black Slaves here…Advice and Help from the Europeans.. Oh that’s right your the ones put us in the place we are in now… Yes you Neo Cons have done such a great job with this country $17.7 trillion debt….Your Advice and Help.. Yes it has worked so well for this country….As for Ben Shelly, President of the Navajo Nation he is one person of the Navajo Nation…As for the Navajo Nation “The Navajo Nation Council in 2014 voted to oppose using the Redskins name.”

  5. Mike   October 12, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    Good read. My Native American friends don’t mind it and feel there are bigger issues to deal with.

    • Graham Noble   October 13, 2014 at 10:52 am

      Exactly; mine too.

      • Toni Brown   October 19, 2014 at 8:00 am

        Shoddy 1 sided article. You did no real investigation into the problem or reveal anything other than your opinion. My guess is, you are broke and in desperation hoping to gain Mr. Snyders attention for some of the free BS swag, scraps he throws anyone he can “bribe” to have his back. Grow a pair and do your job. I personally know a 16 yr old with a stack of signatures from hundreds in CA. who oppose the name. I have met numerous tribal leaders from some of the 109 Federally recognized tribes in Ca. Alone who not only want the mascots removed from all professional teams, but from the 180+ schools in their own state.
        You did a horrible job on this piece and if you’re really interested in the world you live in, humanity or the well-being of over 2.1 million American Indian youth then I suggest you do a second article with real facts or find a new profession.

        • Graham Noble   October 19, 2014 at 9:03 am

          Your opinion is worthless: Bile and hatred because you don’t like someone else’s point of view. Moreover, you hate the fact that this point of view is based upon facts and many years of living and working in close proximity to American Indians.

          It was barely worth my time replying to you, but I had a couple minutes to spare. Clearly, however, you lack both the experience and the intelligence to discuss this further with me.

          • Toni Brown   October 20, 2014 at 8:26 am

            I encourage you to please reach out to me personally. I would love to share my educated experience. Please email me so we can correspond if you were truly interested In this topic.
            As a mixed blood American Indian married to a full blood raising our very traditional and extremely educated sons, we would love to have a real conversation with you.

            Sincerely Toni Brown

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