Washington Redskins cause uproar for Native American activists
While millions of Americans get pumped up about football on an average Sunday afternoon, some people are using this weekend event to protest issues. On Nov. 2, thousands of people of all ages gathered outside TCF Bank Stadium to protest the name and symbol of the Redskins as the Minnesota Vikings and Washington Redskins played.
The issue of Native American tribal names and symbols being used for non-native sports teams’ logos is not new; however, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has already told activists that he will not change the name.
Biology sophomore Ly’Chelle Hadley said that she doesn’t believe there was any intended offense.
“It has been so long that any ill intent has been forgotten,” Hadley said. “But if it is that big of an issue to the Native Americans, maybe the Redskins should look into renaming the team.”
The Redskins controversy has been going for quite a few years now. Some Native American groups have tried suing the team for the name and logo, as they believe “redskin” is a racial slur that belittles their culture.
According to the Huffington Post, one of several Native American speakers at the protest said, “They don’t know how to honor us. We honor ourselves today.”
According to WUSA9, D.C. area residents maintain a strong belief that the Washington Redskins team name should not be changed, despite the fact that a majority of those same residents find the word “redskins” to be offensive in all or some contexts.
The Washington Redskins organization was established in 1932, but the origin of the term “redskin” is complex and no one really knows the reason for it. Some say it is related to the skin pigment of Native Americans, and some say it is a racial slur towards the Native Americans.
The Washington Redskins have been successful due to their many playoff appearances and large fan base.
According to Forbes Magazine, the Redskins are the third most valuable franchise in the NFL behind the Cowboys and Patriots, valued at approximately $1.6 billion in 2013.
Changing the name and logo of the team would have a huge impact — sports fans are so accustomed to the “Washington Redskins,” and any other name would be a tough adjustment for them. Hotel and restaurant management freshman Kendall Russell sympathizes with the protestors, but also understands the little relevance of the issue to sports fans.
“I feel that they were kind of right in their revolt against the name (Redskins) because it is kind of degrading to them, but it’s been around so long and it’s not really that significant of a topic because not many people pay attention to (the name),” Russell said.
Any culture has pride in their customs and in their heritage; Native Americans are entitled to be defensive about how their culture’s names and symbols that are used on public platforms.
No other culture is represented through sports’ logos except Native Americans. There are no African-American, Jew, Japanese, Caucasian, Hispanic or Chinese symbols or names that are used for team logos.
The debate about whether the Redskins’ name was created disrespectfully or in tribute will go on for years until some type of action is taken.
Native American symbols and names should no longer be used as high school logos, college logos or professional sports logos. Native Americans have a right to want to keep their culture names and logo sacred, as no culture wants to be misinterpreted nor misrepresented.
Opinion columnist Faith Alford is a journalism sophomore and may be reached at [email protected].