My perspective on the Redskins name

Updated: Aug 4, 2020

Many people believe the Redskins name is racist, but many people also think of the name as pride, so I am writing this to describe why I think the Redskins name and logo represents a sense of pride. The Redskins logo was designed by Native Americans, in an article about the history of the logo, it says “The Redskins logo in use today was first designed in 1971 in close consultation with Native American leaders. Among those who unanimously approved and voiced praise for the logo was Walter "Blackie" Wetzel, a former President of the National Congress of American Indians and Chairman of the Blackfeet Nation. Years earlier, Mr. Wetzel had been deeply involved with U.S. President John F. Kennedy in the movement for civil liberties, civil rights, and economic freedom for all. In 2014, Mr. Wetzel's son Don commented, “It needs to be said that an Indian from the State of Montana created that [Redskins] logo, and did it the right way. It represents the Red Nation, and it's something to be proud of.” The Native American leaders designed the logo to represent a sense of pride for their history. The term “Redskin” originated from Native Americans, “More than a decade ago, in the authoritative linguistic survey “I Am A Red-Skin: The Adoption of a Native American Expression (1769-1826),” Ives Goddard—the senior linguist and curator at the Smithsonian Institution—concluded that the word “redskins” was created by Native Americans, and that it was first used as an inclusive expression of solidarity by multi-tribal delegations who traveled to Washington, D.C. to negotiate national policy towards Native Americans. “The actual origin of the word (redskin) is entirely benign,” Goddard is quoted as saying.” Why would Native Americans create the word, if it was a racist term towards them. The Washington Redskins are not the only people that use the term. “Prominent Indian leaders of the 19th century—from Sitting Bull (a Hunkpapa Lakota Chief) to French Crow (Principal Chief of the Wahpekute band of Santee Sioux) to Tecumseh (a Shawnee chief)—are documented as having referred to themselves as “Red Men” or “Red-skins.”

When writing an article about the name, Craig Stofko used his experience of going to a native American bar. As it says, “Every single person in the place was a Native American.” As he started talking to the locals, he said, “Having worked for the Maryland state government for most of my adult life I had been conditioned to steer clear of anything that could even remotely approach the dangerous waters of political incorrectness. But, intrigued by the memorabilia and my political inhibitions lubricated with a few frothy lagers, I asked William Mountain of the Sun if there were, in fact, Redskin fans among us. What ensued was a fascinating and somewhat surprising conversation that ultimately included every single person in the bar.” During his conversations with them, he started to learn that they thought of the name as pride. Craig, has always thought that they name Redskin always offended Native American people, but through his conversation, he learned this, “Our people are all but forgotten. Most Americans don’t think about us. They don’t talk about us. Soon they won’t even know about us. Should we be angry that this group, this team, remembers us? Honors us? Braves on the warpath,” he went on. “Hail to the Redskins!”

It is worth pointing out that there was not a dissenting opinion. The entirety of this eatery was in agreement that the name Redskins was a manner in which to pay homage to their people. It was a name that recognized and honored their heritage. I was fascinated, bewildered, and more than a little strangely relieved to find that I had been on the wrong side of this argument from the start.”

Craig’s perspective of the name changed, because he learned that the name honors Native Americans past, which has been “all but forgotten.”

Many Native Americans may have a different point of view than William, but many of Native Americans history has already been wiped, as Williams said, Most Americans don’t think about us." If the Redskins name is changed it could destroy even more of the little history of Native Americans that is still left.

Many people think the name is racist and many people think the name is a sense of pride. This article is my perspective of the name, but in writing this I want to try and changes people’s perspective of the name. The name should be viewed like William of the bar views it, as sense of pride and history of Native Americans, in which their history is “all but forgotten”.

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