“Redskins / Redmen is Racist”
90% of Native Americans disagree with you/that statement.
Redskins / Redmen is a Native American iconic name and is revered by the vast majority of Native Americans and general public alike. Redskins / Redmen represents honor, respect and pride for Native American culture. Redskins / Redmen is and has been a self-identifying term for Natives since the early 1800s.
Context and intent matter. Activists intend to make Redskins / Redmen a pejorative term. NAGA disagrees and chooses to elevate and reclaim the Name Redskins / Redmen.
School boards and sports organizations have the opportunity to make this word officially hateful or honorable by their actions, for this generation and all those that follow. Choose wisely and keep this word from ever hurting others.
Native names and imagery are protected, defended and saved by the Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA). Educate not Eradicate - learn more here - nagaeducation.org
Redskins was originated by Native Americans to refer to themselves, the logo was designed and approved by Native American leaders, and the vast majority of both Native Americans and the public revere the Name.
“It's not a term that the white man created. It's actually a term that the Indians themselves created. I just think we have people in this country that try and gin up problems that don't exist." ~ Chief Robert “Two Eagles” Green of the Patawomeck Tribe
“Redskins” or “Red people” are the most authentic terms as the Native Americans used a color system to identify others. In the late 1600s and 1700s, the term was first used by Native Americans to self-describe and distinguish themselves from the White man and Black man. "Redskins" was first used as an inclusive expression of solidarity by multi-tribal delegations. Some early written recordings of the use of the word Redskins:
In 1812, Chief Meskwaki Black Thunder is quoted, “I turn to all, red skins and white skins, and challenge an accusation against me.”
In 1822, it is recorded that Big Elk (chief of the Omaha tribe) self-described himself as a Red Skin. In conversation with President James Monroe: “I am almost the only Red Skin opposed to war.”
The historical Redskin actually has nothing to do with the color or race of the Indian at all. It is specific to those early, red-painted native warriors who were known for their bravery, skill and fighting spirit. The Red Men were Red-painted warriors ready for battle.
Redskins is derived from Native Americans’ use of the blood root plant and dye as ceremonial preparation for war. Redskin tribes used it to cover their shaven heads, arms, toros and legs. They believed this color would protect them like a spiritual suit of armor - in a belief that they had made a connection with their war spirits who would guide them and provide strength and courage. Red symbolized blood, energy and power.
Redskins during a certain period of history was used as a pejorative term. It has long since been elevated to a term of respect, admiration and reverence.
As with many words in our language, intent, tone and context play a part in how words are interpreted. Anyone calling Redskins “racist” when it’s used as a self-identifying Native American term, simply because it’s used positively, is an act of finding the worst in it. Ignoring its intent, tone and context deliberately misinterprets its use. Why, when 90% of Native Americans feel differently? They have the right to elevate the term, and we have a duty as a community to state our intent and context, with the blessings of groups like the Native American Guardians Association who represent saving and defending native imagery in a positive way.
Ironically a more socially acceptable term is American Indian, which was a mislabel due to Columbus thinking he reached India. Yet Native Americans have little objection to that term, and no one is calling for the extinction of that name. American Indian is used interchangeably with Native American. And is even a self-identifier for the NCAI - National Council of American Indians. So why can you ignore Native American opinions on Redskins?
The name Redskins was chosen in 1933 to honor Native Americans in general and the coach and four players at that time who were Native American; and that in 1971 coach George Allen consulted with the Red Cloud Indian Fund on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation when designing the logo.
Two national political polls, the first in 2004 by the National Annenberg Election Survey and another in 2016 by The Washington Post came up with almost identical results. When a respondent identified themselves as Native American, both polls asked, "The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn’t it bother you?". In both polls, 90% responded that they were not bothered, 9% that they were offended, and 1% gave no response.
The name United Negro College Fund is not racist and universally accepted as an honorable name.
The NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) is not racist nor derogatory.
The LGBTQ community and those that respect them, have reclaimed the words, Gay and Queer. Their use is not derogatory.
The term Cowboys (which originated from black slaves that worked the cows) is revered by black and white people alike.
What do all these examples have in common that Redskins and Native Americans don’t? The right to elevate a name, have their own opinion and the right for intent, context and tone to determine if the term is positive or negative.
The Native American Guardians Association supports rank-and-file Native Americans, their intelligence and decision-making ability as a People. Native Americans should be respected by society for their overwhelmingly mandated opinions.