Opinion: Redskins mascot can’t be justified

June 16, 2013


See if this makes sense to you:

For years, I’ve argued with certain African-American people about their insistence upon using the so-called N-word which, to my ears, is, inalterably, a statement of self-loathing. They say I don’t understand. They say the word no longer means what it has always meant. They say it’s just a friendly fraternal greeting.

I say one cannot arbitrarily decide that a word — especially an old and bloodstained word — suddenly means something other than what it always has. I say that, while language does change over time, it doesn’t do so because a few of us want it to or tell it to. And I say that if I call you an “idiot,” but say that “idiot” now means “genius,” you will be no less insulted.

Does that seem logical? If so, then perhaps you can understand my impatience with people who insist on defending the Washington football team whose nickname is a racial slur.

The latest is NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. Last week, he responded to a letter from members of the House Congressional Native American Caucus questioning the appropriateness of the name “Redskins.” That name, wrote Goodell, “is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.” The team took the name in 1933, he noted, to honor then-coach William “Lone Star” Dietz, who was reputedly (it is a matter of historical dispute) an American Indian.

“Neither in intent nor use was the name ever meant to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group,” he wrote. In other words, we have changed the meaning. It no longer means what it has always meant.

As it happens, Goodell’s letter follows a novel — though ultimately failed — effort earlier this year by the Michigan Department of Civil Rights to ban Indian team names and mascots at primary and secondary schools. The complaint MDCR filed with the Education Department argued that such things are not merely insulting, but damaging. It cited the work of Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, an assistant professor at the University of Arizona who has studied the effects of the team names and imagery on Native American students.

She has found empirical proof that those names and imagery lead to lowered self-esteem and sense of community worth among American Indian kids. They also damage aspirations and heighten anxiety and depression.

In other words, seeing their people reduced to mascots is toxic to Indian children. And if the names and images in general are damaging, how much more harmful is “Redskins”?

That name, after all, was never neutral, but was, rather, a hateful epithet hurled by people who were stealing from and committing genocide against, those they saw as savage and subhuman. So calling a football team the “Washington Redskins” as a way of honoring an Indian makes precisely as much sense as calling a soccer team “The Warsaw Kikes” as a way of honoring a Jew.

Fans of franchises bearing Indian names often resist changing them out of sentiment. Owners meanwhile, are loath to tamper with lucrative trademarks.

That’s understandable. But it is also short-sighted.

You can delude yourself all you want. Things are what they are, and as Rick Perry learned in 2011 when he was called to answer for a certain inconveniently named rock, this nation’s ugly racial past has a way of poking through the polite lies and evasions we use to prettify history and justify ourselves. So it is with Washington’s football team and its nickname.

This is not about honor and even less about “strength, courage, pride and respect.” It is rather, about moral integrity, intellectual honesty and the immutable weight of certain words. Whether we choose to acknowledge it, or never do, doesn’t change the fact:

“Redskins” is a curse word.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com.

Editor’s note: Leonard Pitts is taking a two-week vacation. His column will return in July.

— Leonard Pitts Jr. is a columnist for the Miami Herald. He chats with readers from noon to 1 p.m. CDT each Wednesday on www.MiamiHerald.com. Editor’s note: Leonard Pitts is taking a two-week vacation. His column will return in July.


Steven Gaudreau 5 years ago

Redskin was originally coined to describe the face paint of a tribe in the northeastern part of the U.S. The term was later used as a racial slur. Since Pitts stated we cannot change the original meaning of a word, then the term Redskin must refer to face paint which is not offensive.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

Here is another thought about the origin of the word. Sorry to have to copy and paste, but sometimes a quote is best. And, I like to give the source of the quote.

The Term Redskin

"Dear Editor; It was brought to my attention that some were asking if the term "redskin" was really offensive to Indians and that they would like to hear from us on this subject. Well, here you are...I am Blackfoot, Cherokee and Choctaw...and yes, the term is extremely offensive to me. Let me explain why. Back not so long ago, when there was a bounty on the heads of the Indian people...the trappers would bring in Indian scalps along with the other skins that they had managed to trap or shoot. These scalps brought varying prices as did the skins of the animals. The trappers would tell the trading post owner or whoever it was that he was dealing with, that he had 2 bearskins, a couple of beaver skins...and a few scalps. Well, the term "scalp" offended the good Christian women of the community and they asked that another term be found to describe these things. So, the trappers and hunters began using the term "redskin"...they would tell the owner that they had bearskin, deer skins....and "redskins." The term came from the bloody mess that one saw when looking at the scalp...thus the term "red"...skin because it was the "skin" of an "animal" just like the others that they had...so, it became "redskins". So, you see when we see or hear that term...we don't see a football team...we don't see a game being played...we don't see any "honor"...we see the bloody pieces of scalps that were hacked off of our men, women and even our children...we hear the screams as our people were killed...and "skinned" just like animals. So, yes, Mr./Ms. Editor...you can safely say that the term is considered extremely offensive."

In Struggle,
Tina Holder
Mesa, Az.


weeslicket 5 years ago

the most offensive name in professional sports: the utah jazz

Lisa Medsker 5 years ago

Hey, hey, hey, now... Well, I guess "Back in the day", when Malone and Stockton were playing, their duo could only be described as "music". Now? Not so much. Okay. I'll give you that one! (I'm just glad they got rid of Eaton!)

ChuckFInster 5 years ago

By Pitt's logic we would also need to change the names of the Cowboys, Patriots, Chiefs, 49ers, Buccaneers, Packers, Steelers, Texans, ... to avoid being "racist" to any certain group.

Bob_Keeshan 5 years ago

I'm going to spend the next month greeting and referring to pirates I interact with as Buccaneers.

You spend the next month greeting and referring to Native Americans you interact with as Redskins.

I bet my month goes better than yours.

verity 5 years ago

Can we get a report back on this? :-))

Liberty275 4 years, 12 months ago

Why do you think your month will go better? Is there some difference between the reaction of pirates and Native Americans? Do you think one group will react more violently?

ebyrdstarr 5 years ago

Sure, because cowboys and gold miners are really comparable to a race of people our nation nearly wiped out and whose survivors we generously consigned to the most undesirable tracts of land possible.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

I'm not sure if any of these, except Chiefs (and maybe Texans) have ever been used as a racial slur. You just don't get it do you?

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

No, it did not say it was racist. He used the N word as an example that we can't say whatever we please and then try to justify it by claiming it to mean something else. He said the word redskins is toxic and it is. The examples you gave are not. The Pittsburgh Steelers are named that because of the steel mills in that town, and I think they are proud of being a working class team and that heritage. Totally different than the heritage associated with being a redskin.

ebyrdstarr 5 years ago

What you call political correctness, many of us call being sensitive to the impact our words and actions have on others. I don't understand how you can equate taking into consideration the feelings of others with the death of America.

John Kyle 5 years ago

"Those of us over 50" is code for pre-civil rights era.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Most people over 50 lived through the civil rights era. I'm over 60 and I want freedom for all. Do not equate me with oletimer. Besides racism exists in a lot of young people too.

John Kyle 5 years ago

? I'm over 50 also. I was making a comment on his post, not people over 50.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

That's what I took from your comment, that when someone uses that particular phrasing they mean for their listener to understand so they don't have to say it outright.

Shelley Bock 5 years ago

This comment was removed by the site staff for violation of the usage agreement.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Oh yes, the good old day when women, blacks, hispanics, and natives all knew their places and kept their mouths shut, right? Are we "driving" this country to a place where all human beings are respected and have rights? Horrors.

Kathy Theis-Getto 5 years ago

An America to be proud of? You are kidding, right? I am over fifty and have DISTINCT memories of the way things were. Not something to be proud of as a country unless you are a racist old white man. Sickening at best.

Mrgreenjeans 5 years ago

Why before all these young whippersnappers ruined America I remember when a sody cost a nickle and we walked 15 miles to school uphill each way through blizards everyday! These lilly liverd youngin' wouldn't know what made America great even if it bit them on the butt! What made this country great was the 60hour work week -with Sunday mornin's off fer prayin' and a man pullin' himself up by his boot straps - unless he got his hand a smashed working in the rail yard, of course then he couldn't even get his boots on. Oh, but we'd through him some bread crumbs and pray fer him. Then there's that danged newfangled Tee Vee thing making all the young folks fat and stupid. In the olden times all of us was born geniuses, that's why the world was so good back then. Now kids are just lazy, why when I was 8 I went to work in the coal mines breakin' coal for twenty-five cents a day and I liked. Schoolin' was all waste of time - 'specially since we was all geniuses already. Anyhow, that's one thing that ain't changed! Schools are still full up with them commies and such. Dang it! You kids get off a my lawn.

jack22 5 years ago

I don't know, for some reason I'm not offended by school or professional sports mascots. Maybe that's just because I'm a white male sports fan? Maybe I would be offended if someone had a mascot that resembled someone like me, say an Irish guy who looks like a leprecon and is prone to fighting. Oh wait, no, I'm not offended by that either.

ebyrdstarr 5 years ago

Leprechauns are mythical creatures. Native Americans are not.

tomatogrower 5 years ago

What if they had called their team the Muckers? Would you have found that offensive?

notaubermime 5 years ago

I can understand getting rid of a word like "Redskins", that is a rather derogatory word. Slurs don't belong anywhere, much less national television. I don't understand any effort to get rid of all mascots based off of Native Americans. What is truly the difference between a historically inaccurate depiction of a Ute and a historically inaccurate depiction of a Spartan?

verity 5 years ago

Maybe because there aren't a lot of Spartans in the USA to be offended? At least the kind being depicted.

notaubermime 5 years ago

There are, however, a lot of relatives of the jayhawks, cornhuskers, sooners, wheat shockers, Columbia Tigers, cowboys... and those are just the college mascots in the area immediately around Kansas. There are times when people are justifiably upset by something derogatory, then there are times when people just want something to be mad at.

verity 5 years ago

Are you really comparing those names to "redskins"?

Armored_One 5 years ago

Considering Quantrill's Tigers nearly burned a Jayhawker town to the ground, and gave a good try at exterminating all males in the general vicinity, I'd say there was some vague similarities, but I could be wrong...

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years ago

yeah why stop using/exploiting/portraying people indigenous to this land however we want to get whatever we want? 500 years of genocide in this country inaccurately depicted in whitewashed fictional/biased/agenda-driven versions of american history...designed against understanding. what do you know of Numic speaking people? is it all just greek to you? how many Native to Turtle Island and how many Spartiates have you discussed mascots with? Noc-A-Homa, Redskins, Chiefs...all using/exploiting/portraying. de-meaning.

50YearResident 5 years ago

I guess I got it all wrong when I was a kid. I thought names like "redskins" was a compliment to those being named. I actually thought it would make Indians proud when the redskins won a game and kicked the cowboys butts. Oh Well, live and learn.

We are all going to bleed to death here in America. We are getting so thin skinned that the blood is just going to leak out and kill us all.

verity 5 years ago

Well, yes, you were wrong.

How many people would be offended by a sports team being named the Christs with a crucifix for a mascot? Even as an atheist, that would offend me. Am I too sensitive?

Becca McMaster 5 years ago

Notre Dame has "Touchdown Jesus" and wasn't one of their hologram helmets a Jesus hologram? Tim Tebow has been almost deified for praying on the field. So, I don't know that people would be offended.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years ago

well i certainly see why there's no complimentary name "whiteskins"

Mike Ford 5 years ago

Since no Native People have spoken yet and I've seen the same bunch of opinions witnessed on other reputable sites like yahoo news (laugh) here it is. None of you really know anything about Native people. I've witnessed that on here. There are over 600 tribes both federal and state. There are hundreds of different ethnic groups amongst these indigenous tribes. We are not all the same. Of course a logo on a helmet makes it easy for learning challenged people to generalize and answer questions that they know nothing of.

The Washington Redskins mascot was supposedly meant to honor the undocumented Sioux heritage of one of the founders of the team. People don't know that the owners of this team held up the ban on Black football players in the 1930's and 1940s during segregation. People don't know that Sioux is a slur originating the French and Ojibwe languages and that people would rather be called Dakota. People don't know that before the establishment of Jamestown there were almost thirty tribes in the Powhattan Confederacy. I memorized them. Between 1620 and 1644 the Powhattan Confederacy was reduced to between five and ten small groups of survivors of the Powhattan War of 1620 to 1644. The Commonwealth of Virginia and it's authorities paid a bounty for anyone who brought a dead Indian's skin hence the word Redskin...man, women, or child. Currently there are five or six surviving Powhattan Confederacy Communities in Virginia.....Pamunkey, Chickahominy, Rhappahannock, Nansemond, to name a few. Republican Senate members like Tom Coburn of Oklahoma have held up the vote on their recognition even after these tribes gave up the right to gaming. I had a yelling match with a staffer of his a couple of years ago over this issue. If people took these mascots off the side of helmets and baseball caps then the issues would be paid attention to. Many of you see a disconnected historical view based in stereotypes like the ones on the side or front of sports helmets. You don't bother to learn anything. I told Roger Goddell on the NFL comment line that he will find uninformed or acculturated Native people all day to support this nonsense mascot. He should ask someone whose walked during a Redskin- Chiefs game what it's like to see drunk White people with facepaint and have them realize your the Indian they're offending. The look on the face is priceless. If no other ethnic group is done like then Native peoples here shouldn't be either. Maybe the Redskins should talk to the Piscataway and Conoy tribes around the outskirts of DC about this. Oh wait a minute....why should they ask? we're all the same right? Wampanoag and Tlingit people wear headdresses right? aww just watch the game... too much thinking involved. And don't listen to anybody. Lowest common denominator ignorance wins.

Leslie Swearingen 5 years ago

Excellent comment. Being aware of others is good manners not pc. I think part of it is because in schools they still teach the same things about the same writers, artists, scientists, etc. But, then how much does the average person know about French or German history and culture and history?

The way that Native Americans are treated today is a shame to this country and I was surprised to find there are people in other countries who are appalled by this and who equate the reservations and all that stems from that as being the same as the Palestinian situation. I would really like to hear your take on that and if you think the two are similiar.

jack22 5 years ago

Thanks tuschkahouma, you're right, that's a lot of information people are not aware of, me included. I had no idea where the word Redskin came from, but now I see why it's considered offensive and why it should be dropped as the name and mascot of that team. What's your opinion on the Chiefs and Blackhawks? Is there any team that has an Indian themed name or mascot that is doing it in a way you'd consider non-offensive to or respectful of native Americans?

ChuckFInster 5 years ago


[ ráy sìzzəm ]

1.animosity toward other races: prejudice or animosity against people who belong to other races 2.belief in racial superiority: the belief that people of different races have different qualities and abilities, and that some races are inherently superior or inferior

Wow you can read all that into a logo on a helmet !?. Get a grip people

ebyrdstarr 5 years ago

You didn't bother to read either of the comments that described the origin of the term "redskin," did you?

Mike Ford 5 years ago

Reservations are a reminder of how greedy this country is. There are a few rough reservations I've been to and for the sake of not playing into the trap I won't mention them. I will say that in spite of the appearance and struggle in opposing this country and it's desire to kill and steal these people have been maligned unjustly. These people's ancestors have owned the US in battle in the past and I'll leave it there.

I've seen nice reservations like Tonawanda and St. Regis Akwesasne in New York and Oneida in Wisconsin. Or Pearl River in Mississippi or Meskwaki Settlement in Iowa. One sees tribal headquarters, public works facilities, schools, and community centers and housing. The tribes who have casinos usually have them out on the highway away from the community. I remember going into the old Big Bat Pourier's store and gas station on Pine Ridge and seeing no one except Lakota people. I remember, my dad's father going into a Wal Mart in Muscogee, Oklahoma and his comment about all of the Indians in that store almost 20 years ago. None of the reservations I've been to here in Kansas are that rugged. All of this is off subject kind of but people need to know that like the mascots a lot of these stereotypes are way off base. There are Native owned businesses in many instances. One can go to Famous Dave's Barbeque and see a Native ran business. These mascots promote someone else's view of Native people. Not Native people's view of themselves. I wonder what Sam Bradford thinks of the Redskins mascot. Maybe he ignores it to not rock the boat since he's in the public eye. I wonder if the Kansas City Chiefs realize that Tyler Bray is Citizen Band Potawatomi. These guys have to be like Jackie Robinson and not rock the boat. Rocking the boat or not I don't think representing people on the sides or fronts of their helmets without asking them first is right. And using age old images from the days of unchecked racism is not right.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years ago

sheesh i dig all the good info, thank you

Mike Ford 5 years ago

I guess you can be removed from the issue and ignore the problem. that is American behavior. nothing like sitting in a Wendy's Restaurant in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, and listening to intelligent political conversation and then having to listen to this avoidance drivel.

Armstrong 5 years ago

Wow intelligent political conversation in Wendys ! Those cleaver Canadians

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years ago

sounds like a person much too sensitive with victimizer mentality

Mike Ford 5 years ago

some people are ignorant of their country of origin's ways of acquiring the land they live on. these people are cowardly in acknowledging this history so they try to flip this behavior and call people sensitive because they are too lazy to understand the consequences of their actions and behavior. yes I'm sensitive because yes you're clueless. and yes this mascot is offensive and yes you better get used to answering for something that is indefensible.

50YearResident 5 years ago

tuschkahouma, are you going to stay mad at the white man until your last day on this earth?

tomatogrower 5 years ago

Well, you seem to not want to change anything from your childhood spent in a lily white environment where the women know their place, so why should he change? Maybe if you would start looking at reality and accepting all people, then maybe people could get over their anger. Maybe if everyone really did share equal rights and equal opportunities, then the anger would go away. Maybe if bigotry didn't exist the anger against bigots would die.

Fred Van Ranken 5 years ago

I am curious tuschkahouma, what are some options for a mascot that truly honors the spirit of native Americans? I understand your perspective and have learned much reading your comments and honestly would honestly like to know your thoughts in this area.

Mike Ford 5 years ago

That's not really an answerable question because tribes and nations have clans represented by different animals for different reasons. Thousands of years ago indigenous peoples in different parts of the Western Hemisphere observed animals in their respective environments and saw qualities in these animals that they either saw in a positive or negative way and either made these qualities a symbol of their cultures or shunned them. Right off hand I think of think of an example of the crawfish with it's claws up ready to fight. This is a symbol of the Houma Nation of Louisiana. Houma people are a conglomeration of Chakchiuma, Bayougoula, Mougalisha, Biloxi, Opelousas, Acolapisa, Acadian, and African peoples in southeast Louisiana. The Chakchiuma people came down the Mississippi River and were forced into the Atchafalaya Basin before the French Acadians arrived in the 1760's and originally were part of the people that came out from under the Nunih Waiya Mound of Mushkeogan/Choctaw origins and had to fight a crawfish in order to get into the light of the sun and be formed as people. The Houma honor the crawfish due to this fight as a rightful adversary. This is but one example of hundreds of animals honored in many different ways by different indigenous peoples. The American view of mascots is way too simplified to be adapted into the myriad of explanations of why certain tribes use certain animals as totem representation. I will say this as I think out loud about this subject. How crazy is it for FSU sports fans to cheer for a mythical Osceola Seminole Warrior who isn't even represented accurately on horseback or in inaccurate clothing when this warrior in real life fought these fan's ancestors as they stole Seminole lands and moved people to Arkansas and Oklahoma and Texas and Mexico and drove the Seminoles remaining in Florida deep into the Everglades? This is the historical disconnect and shallowness of American history and culture. At least Perry, Kansas, in what infinite wisdom it has decided on a bird as a mascot instead of some mascot resembling White Plume who had a Kaw Indian village just to the east of Perry and south of Williamstown along the Kansas River. The Kaw Nation was moved three times more before being removed to Indian Territory and then was removed again for a reservoir on the Arkansas River in the 20th century. The anger I have is that if more people realized how offensive this historical disconnect is they'd realize the anger the denial of history creates.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years ago

hey i'll dog your bull because i got time on my hands to shake the baked. so tell us all about the meaning of tuschkahouma and help us appreciate the adversity presented by that meaning to you

Mike Ford 5 years ago

The question about the Blackhawks is a complex one. On one hand hockey is huge in Canada and there are numerous Canadian First Nations people playing in the NHL. Chris Simons and Jordan Tantoo are two players I think of right off the bat and there is also a First Nations coach in the NHL. These guys put up with taunts about government handouts, alcoholism, and other reserve bordertown taunts. So there are indigenous peoples in measurable numbers in the NHL. However, one has to realize that Blackhawk was a Sauk Chief whose people inhabited parts of Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, and Missouri. Blackhawk was a Chief who was against signing away his tribe's land in treaties and was incredibly incensed at the 1804 treaty where the US played divide and conquer and found government chiefs to sign away lands and undermind his tribal authority. He sided with the British during the War of 1812 and he led what was known as the British Band of his people. He had a war with the US in the late 1820's early 1830's and his people were massacred in Wisconsin on a river in the early 1830's. He was taken around as a war trophy by the US until his death and if I remember correctly his grave was disturbed and his bones were removed after his passing. Some of his people were removed to Franklin and Osage County, Kansas, and were so disgusted with the corruption by Indian agents here in Kansas that they took treaty monies and went back to Iowa and purchased some of their original lands back where they live to this day on the Meskwaki settlement lands near Tama, Iowa. Would you want to see a bunch of rowdy sometimes inebriated hockey fans acting this way in his name after knowing the history above since you probably weren't taught this school? I'd hope not and there in lies the problem.

Abdu Omar 5 years ago

I like the name "First Nation" better than Indian. CAlling them indian because Columbus was fooled into thinking he was in India is ridiculous. The First Nation people are great people. They deserve what they wish for but we won't see that in my life time. The same as the Palestinian people. Yes, they too, are different, from different areas, clans and tribes in the old days and they deserve at least the portion of the land on the West Bank and Gaza. I have been to the West Bank and Israel. Two places just a few blocks apart but completely different.

Mike Ford 5 years ago

False justification through silly comparisons. Land theft and attacks on culture are your history. Telling someone to get over your culture's history isn't really owning any responsibility on your behalf. Whose running from what I ask? Besides Don Henley is a supporter of the preservation of Walden Woods in Massachusetts where Henry David Thoreau lived in isolation from this wonderful culture of America in the early 19th century and reached out to the indigenous peoples of Massachusetts in his time. My middle name is Walden. So I know about what Mr. Henley wanted to preserve. Would you tell Mr. Henley to get over the expansion of American civilization into pristine woods or the indigenous people in Lawrence to get over the destruction and manipulation of wetlands drained or not where their ancestors and relatives toiled as basically prisoners of the war of cultural assimilation a century ago. This tragedy is demeaned by superficial people with no concept of respect or history who chase money and promote manipulation and exploitation of other cultures whether it's Fred Harvey and ATSF Railroad in the Southwest, a certain local college biologist who ignores indigenous people and dresses his scouts like them, or Dan Snyder who lets his drunk fans where headdresses and act like clowns. Your defense is pathetic.

notaubermime 5 years ago

"Land theft and attacks on culture are your history."

For someone who seems to take such pleasure in reviewing history, you sure seem to have a narrow focus. Land thefts and attacks on the minority's history are what every sizable country has done. Just look up the Japanese and the Ainu, the Indians and the untouchables, the Muslim Iranians and the Zoroastrians, the Zulus during the Mfecane, the Aztecs to anyone who resisted them. The only thing which separated the actions of the United States from the Native Americans it was pushing out was the scope of their capabilities.

The simple unpleasant fact is that the more power people get, the worse they treat those around them. It is quite naive to think that any country has a monopoly on capacity towards inducing misery.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years ago

the smoke you are blowing mirrors your own lack of clarity.

is there a game show where you could be my opponent in a debate?

jafs 5 years ago

I don't see anywhere in ts' posts where he claims that this country has a monopoly on that.

It's just this country's history that upsets him most, since he's part of it, and on the losing end of it.

jafs 5 years ago

I've read a lot of them, and haven't seen anything like that.

verity 5 years ago

He/she/they did it too is the kind of defense children make when they get caught---an attempt to deflect blame.

A lot of deflection and flipping going on in these comments.

notaubermime 5 years ago

I have no need to deflect, nor am I concerned with deflecting blame. My comments were made in light of statements tuschkahouma has made through the years.

Understand my point or don't, it makes little difference to me.

bevy 5 years ago

Tuschkahouma, I want to ask you a question, and please know I respect you and your heritage. I have a degree in history and learned about many of the atrocities of which you have written, as well as atrocities committed by Native tribes upon each other. Here is what I don't understand. The things you are spending your life being angry over happened more than a hundred years ago. I am of Irish descent. My ancestors were tribal and clannish, as were yours. Like yours, they were persecuted, tortured, subject to genocide, run off their lands, subject to primogeniture, and were even rejected, humiliated, discriminated against and even killed when they came to America to find new lives for their families. This happened even longer ago than the atrocities you have described. The only difference is, no one gave them any reservations. They have not received any special treatment or reparations for their losses. For the most part, they moved past the tragedies of their past and got on with their lives.

Native Americans are not the only group in history to have been subject to such things. Human beings have been doing these things to one another since the dawn of creation. No one is compensating my ancestors for things that were done to them. Why should Native People get any more consideration than any other persecuted group? What makes your situation different from that of my ancestors?

I am not trying to be insensitive, I am truly interested in your perspective on this.

verity 5 years ago

bevy, you didn't direct your question to me, but perhaps it's because the bigotry and discrimination is still going on. I'm not angry about what the Protestants and Catholics did to my ancestors, or even what happened during the world wars here in the USA to people I know. I do get angry about current day discrimination against women.

Mike Ford 5 years ago

First Nations is a Canadian Term in both the English and French speaking parts of that country.

Armored_One 5 years ago

To quote George Carlin, and it really is directly meant at BOTH sides of this utter waste of mental strength...

"They are symbols and I leave symbols to the symbol-minded."

This is the giant demon you think is bogging down the U.S.? On one side is political correctness and on the other side are those insisting on being insulted. I just don't get it. I grew up somewhat underfunded and white, to be polite about it. The descriptive that goes with that mental image doesn't phase me in the least.

Words have no more weight than what we want to assign to them and, frankly, you can't be insulted unless you want to be insulted in the first place. I learned that in high school, and I am almost directly quoting the man that said it to me. An ex professional football player that towered over almost everyone in the school, and definitely out massed everyone in the entire school. Big, huge black man that was paid, for a time, to do his best to drive another guy, about the same size, into the ground.

I was giving a report on Jimi Hendrix for class, and by way of quoting older news articles about him, used that oh so unholy word. 5 black kids jumped up and instantly wanted to settle the issue. Mr. Lee stood up behind me, which I might add scared the crapola out of me and told them to back off. He then said that line about being insulted.

Was an interesting class, to say the least.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years ago

Hendrix was Cherokee also...how much did that get mentioned?

Armored_One 5 years ago

We didn't exactly continue with the oral reports that week, Connected... we kind of launched into racism and discussions about it.

verity 5 years ago

So, if I burned a US flag or stomped it into the ground, you'd be OK with that? It's just a symbol.

Armored_One 5 years ago

Actually, it wouldn't bother me in the least. The ideals are what matters, not the picture you put with it.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 5 years ago

Armored_One...I can't begin to imagine the uproar if there were a professional sports team named "The White Trash".

Quoting a derogatory term in a high school essay is considerably different than chanting it while lynching someone. Your story really bears little weight on the subject.

Armored_One 5 years ago

Really, when was the last time that you attended a lynching, Smarmy, since you OBVIOUSLY have so much experience with it? Considering I grew up listening to stories of my grandfather sharecropping for a black man in Mississippi, and can document it massively, I have a tad bit more insight. One of his brothers put on the white hood, shall we say. I've seen a cross burning in someone's yard. Made me sick to my stomach to see, since I was born after 1970, but I've seen one, up close and personal.

As to my story, you be me back then, which I might add was maybe 5'7" and about 120 pounds, give or take 10 pounds. Face the prospect of being outweighed 7 or 8 to 1, and outmanned 5 to 1.

But I am glad you have your condescension, Smarmy. Good for you. Granted, it does rank lower, socially and intellectually, than sarcasm usually, but still, I suppose it's still probably an improvement for you in one form or another.

Truth remains, though, that you can't be insulted if you don't want to be. You can choose to be insulted or you can choose to hear the opinion of someone that truly doesn't matter. Being a white boy, hearing that from a black man teaching in a predominantly white school, I think has some bearing on the overall concept of racism.

Oh, and the tribe my great, great grandfather was born into no longer exists. The vast majority of them died on the Trail of Tears.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 5 years ago

You have no idea of my insight or experience. None at all.

Armored_One 5 years ago

Which is why the first thing I did, above and beyond the somewhat mocking tone or it, ask you when the last time was that you attended a lynching.

And yet again, I notice you completely sidestep the idea that you cannot be insulted if you don't want to be.

Are you incapable of refuting that ideology, unwilling to, or entirely too busy taking offense to stop and formulate a counter argument? And no, I am not being facetious. It's an honest question.

Armored_One 5 years ago

Two for the price of one, apparently.

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 5 years ago

I didn't answer because your question had nothing to do with my comment.

It's difficult to hold your head up when it's been forced down so long that your neck no longer works.

Lee Henry 5 years ago

I really think the mane Lawrence Freestate aought to be changed...because under Brownie it's not a free state at all .....of course if you have the backing of the koch boys it's free for the freeloader....

Wally 5 years ago

This is a fascinating topic and there are good books out there that illustrate not only the contexts behind the specific events, but the complexity of the issues and the people who shaped the events. This subject (like most subjects) is much larger than we can expect to be covered in any depth in a usual school career.

A few (I have read and liked) are: The First Frontier by Scott Weidensaul – very readable about European colonization and effects on the indigenous people on the east coast 15th - 18th century. Contains numerous accounts of events and people you will never hear about in school (+ not so flattering account of G. Washington's early military career), and description of cultural perspectives at the time. 1491 by Charles C. Mann – about pre-columbian indigenous populations throughout the American continent. Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee Brown (“classic” history of the American West) Empire of the Summer Moon by S.C. Gwynne – very readable account of conflict/white settlement of OK- TX-NM region told largely through the perspective of the lives of Quanah Parker and his mother (A white woman who was taken prisoner as a child and raised in native tribe. She adapted to and chose to stay with the tribe.)

Can anyone recommend other good books on the subject?

oldbaldguy 5 years ago

scalp dance, good account of the plains in 60s-70s.

Jeanette Kekahbah 5 years ago

written entirely from records of white settlers and therefore only a good account of eurocentric bias

oldbaldguy 5 years ago

both good reads. empire of the summer moon is worth reading. read accounts from all angles not just one. read son of the morningstar for instance.

verity 5 years ago

Just a thought---maybe instead of accusations of victim mentality, one might try putting themselves in that person's shoes instead of immediately becoming defensive.

If someone is offended by what we do, we should at least give them the benefit of the doubt. Is there any harm or weakness in trying not to offend others? Yes, sometimes people are overly sensitive, but sometimes they do have a legitimate complaint.

Armored_One 5 years ago

So should reparations be paid, since the team profited from the name Redskins? The Chiefs? The Blackhawks?

They are franchise names, meant for identification only. Brand names, for lack of another descriptive. My high school's teams were the Chieftains and made money off of marketing the name, just not on the same level as a pro sports team. Should the student organization be forced to pay reparations?

When someone complains about the Angels, a pro baseball team, since it is obviously an endorsement of religion and condones the Spanish Inquisition, among other atrocities committed in God's name, can they be forced to pay reparations?

The reason that I am asking is this is obviously the next step, since they quite vigorously marketed and profited from the team name. The other question that comes to mind is if the name is trademarked, can they be forced to give the name up, since it was coined as a descriptive of a certain sect of human beings, whereas Washington's use of the word is a name for the team. If they were the Cherokee, or the Apaches, as a name, I could grasp it a bit better why this is unacceptable.

Armored_One 5 years ago

And yes, I have read the transcripts available for Blackhorse et al VS. Football. I also find it interesting that a poll of the continental states, using only Native Americans, found the vast majority either didn't care about the name or approved of it.

Liberty275 4 years, 12 months ago

Rights don't really need excuses or explanations.

Armored_One 5 years ago

Okay, I do have one other question. Reasonably hypothetical, since the situation will likely never occur, but just kind of curious what the opinions are...

Pick a random Native American tribe.

That tribe is given, lock, stock and barrel, all rights to the Washington Redskins for ten years. Every dollar of profit is exclusively theirs to keep. But, in return, they are barred, by terms of the contract, from changing either the name or the logo.

The entire tribe, every recognized member as of the date of the contract being drafted, is entitled to an equal share. According to the 2010 census data I found, the largest tribe is the Navajo, but that will probably be debated, but the census showed a little over 300,000 Navajo.

Forbes lists the team as worth 1.6 billion dollars, with 300+ million a year in merchandizing profits alone. Do you think that tribe, or any other tribe, would refuse such an offer, with the only two stipulations being as I listed them?

Why or why not?

Mike Ford 5 years ago

Why would anyone want to profit from a majority culture's mocking of them? not much thought involved is there? save your payments for mocking of another culture. Do you get it now?

The Oglallah Lakota people were offered $180 million for the 1874 illegal seizure of the Black Hills in 1980. They refused the money seeking the land. That account probably has close to $1 billion in it now and has not been touched. You missed it. That was about not accepting theft as the norm. This is about not accepting dis respect as the norm. Do you get it now?

Armored_One 5 years ago

Then they are utter and complete fools with little hope to change the status quo.

Create as many movements as you want. Money talks, not broken promises or lawsuits.

And yes, I do find it utterly and completely laughable that many decry the living conditions on a reservation, yet when given the chance to alter that, they'd rather cut off their own hand, not just their nose.

George_Braziller 5 years ago

I think you're missing tuschkahouma's point. Many things are more important than money and can't be bought at any price. Principle is one. Accepting the money would be legitimizing the illegal seizure of land.

Armored_One 4 years, 12 months ago

George, have you seen a reservation?

Are you a parent?

Principles don't feed your children, or get them an education to compete with the world outside the reservation. It doesn't warm them in the winter or cool them in the summer.

I understand the need for principles. I have quite a number of them myself. Not a damned one of them is more important than my children. Ever.

George_Braziller 4 years, 12 months ago

And after the $180 million is gone what happens? Everyone is still poor. Don't have the land that could be used to produce revenue, and have signed over any chance of reaping the mineral an oil rights which could be worth BILLIONS of dollars.

$180 million dollars may sound like a lot but it isn't. on the government scale. Construction of highways cost $1 million to $2 million per MILE. The $180 million is a pathetic amount to offer for a settlement.

Armored_One 4 years, 12 months ago

Oh, I don't know. Maybe do something actually intelligent with the money, like invest it?

Good gracious, but is it really that hard to figure out? Do you think Warren Buffet has all that money he's worth just sitting in a bank? Steve Jobs was worth much more in stock than he ever was in cash.

Work through a middle man and acquire the land, or at least the mineral rights. Nothing illegal about being an angel investor, and as long as both parties sign the contract in full faith, the government can't do jack about it.

Take that 180 mill, for example, and invest it in expanding Afghanistan's burgeoning industrial mining. 180 mill could probably buy one of the smaller mining companies outright.

The stuff in your head is meant for more than keeping your ears from touching. It's meant to be used, but problem solving is not really high on anyone's priority list. They want answers handed to them and the work done by someone else.

George_Braziller 4 years, 12 months ago

The offer was $180 million, end of story. Go way now you irritating people whose land we illegally took. Maybe throw a few loaves of bread in the general direction and tell them they should be happy with what they got?

Armored_One 4 years, 12 months ago

Is it safe to assume that you live in Kansas, George_Brazilier? If so, I do hope that you will be vacating your house and divesting yourself of any property that you own in this state, since it was ALL tribal land long before it was settled. That settlement was allowed through one of those treaties you are waving like a Confederate battle flag just before Sherman shows up.

If you own land, then you own land that was illegally seized, and thus should be returned to it's rightful owners, or in the advent that they cannot be located, the next of kin.

If you don't do that, and aren't of a direct Native American bloodline, then you are providing a textbook example of hypocrisy in action. If you are of native American descent and still own the property, you are still a hypocrite because you directly own land that was allowed to be for sale due to property laws written by the people that illegally seized that land, thus quite likely invalidating the sale.

So which is it?

And before you ask, yes I own my house. No I am not vacating it. No, I don't care about treaties that were written and are flat unenforceable due to the legal fact that Constitutional law requires that for a treaty to be valid, it must be with a recognized nation. See my below comment for further extrapolation on that concept.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 12 months ago

oh no you don't know.

there are things of MUCH greater value than money.

instead of preaching poor suggestions to - and making arrogant assumptions about - everyone else...try learning the facts.

start with the u.s. constitution, in particular the part that says "treaty law is the supreme law of the land"...then read all the treaties that were made...and look into u.s. department of the interior's handling of money (hint 3.4 BILLION dollar settlement & the gov got off ultra-light).

oh, is it not high on your priority list to do the work?

tell us how much you care about reservations, what you've done to understand and what you've done with that.

because i really don't like you trying to tell us that the problem is lack of intelligence, priorities or love of children. seriously.

Armored_One 4 years, 12 months ago

Start with the fact that my great-great grandfather died on the Trail of Tears. My grandmother was entitled to attend Haskell.

I grew up in Maricopa county in Arizona, situated between two reservations. I was reasonably welcome to roam as I wished on them, although I had enough common sense to not roam far in the summers.

Did you forget that when those treaties were signed, the 'Indian nation' was a running joke, not a legal description. So I suppose that since the United States did not formally, or legally, recognize the 'nation', those treaties aren't worth the ink it took to write them out. My education came from military schools, not public education. We went quite in depth into that particularly distasteful part of our history.

On a personal note, I don't particularly care if you enjoy me thrusting the truth under your nose after setting said truth on fire, just so you can't ignore it.

I don't care how much pride you have. Does pride pay for medical bills? I take an almost egotistical amount of pride in what I do and who I am. I don't compromise my principles to make my life easier. Steel bends quicker than I do. But none of that matters when it comes to my children. It shouldn't matter to any parent when it comes to their kids, and if you are saying your personal pride is more important than your children, I feel very sorry for your children. If religion, in a nation founded on freedom of religion, cannot exempt a parent of blame in the death of a child resulting from the exercising of said religious freedom, then maybe a parent that puts pride before the welfare and future of their children should be brought up on child endangerment charges.

Pride cometh before the fall. Be careful who gets drug with you on that ride down.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 12 months ago

you fail to confuse anyone but yourself and the rest of us see clearly how you are the one blinded by your own pride.

what does spewing nonsense do for you? am curious.

Jeanette Kekahbah 4 years, 12 months ago

" I don't compromise my principles to make my life easier. "

you fail to confuse anyone but yourself and the rest of us see clearly how you are the one blinded by your own pride.

Armored_One 5 years ago

Oh, and as a side note to Mr. Pitts' strong conviction that a term cannot be appropriated, I give you a single word.


jafs 4 years, 12 months ago

Since he's not asking the government to outlaw the practice, the first amendment doesn't really apply here, I'd say.

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