Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.
Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word “Redskin” was disrespectful to Indians. An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.
But for more than a decade, no one has measured what the country’s 5.4 million Native Americans think about the controversy. Their responses to The Post poll were unambiguous: Few objected to the name, and some voiced admiration. “I’m proud of being Native American and of the Redskins,” said Barbara Bruce, a Chippewa teacher who has lived on a North Dakota reservation most of her life. “I’m not ashamed of that at all. I like that name.” Bruce, 70, has for four decades taught her community’s schoolchildren, dozens of whom have gone on to play for the Turtle Mountain Community High School Braves. She and many others surveyed embrace native imagery in sports because it offers them some measure of attention in a society where they are seldom represented. Just 8 percent of those canvassed say such depictions bother them.
Comments Naomi Schaefer Riley in the Atlantic:
As a recent Washington Post survey concluded, most American Indians are not offended by the term “Redskins”—the name of D.C.’s football team. In interviews, I couldn’t find a single native who mentioned sports-team names as an important issue facing American Indians today. While I did read one editorial in a reservation newsletter arguing against the celebration of Columbus Day, I couldn’t find anyone who wanted to discuss the issue further.
While researchers have argued that team names such as this impair Native youths’ self-esteem, many of those young people have grown up in poverty, living with one or no parents, often exposed to adults who have problems with drugs and alcohol. When these young people have few educational options and little hope of employment ahead of them, it seems ignorant, if not offensive, to focus solely on the names of sports teams, if that distracts from addressing more serious problems. [Native Americans in the U.S. and Property Rights: A Comparative Look at Canada’s First Nations Property Ownership Act – The Atlantic]
Or perhaps it is smart of so-called tribal leaders to create distractions so they don’t get blamed for not addressing the real problem.
Why blame the policies that benefit them as tribal leaders, but hurt Indians in general, when the Washington Redskins can serve as a scapegoat. After all look what it has done to empower and enrich “Black Leaders.”