Archive for Friday, May 20, 2016

Haskell faculty, students call Washington Redskins poll results ‘crazy’

FILE - In this Dec. 26, 2015, file photo, a Washington Redskins helmet sits on the field as players warm-up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

FILE - In this Dec. 26, 2015, file photo, a Washington Redskins helmet sits on the field as players warm-up before an NFL football game against the Philadelphia Eagles in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke, File)

May 20, 2016

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Ask around Haskell Indian Nations University, and you’ll certainly find some people who aren’t offended by the Washington, D.C., professional football team’s name, faculty and students say.

But as many as a new Washington Post poll claims?

“I guarantee you you’re not going to get a number like nine out of 10,” said Dan Wildcat, a Yuchi member of the Muscogee Nation who teaches indigenous and American Indian studies at Haskell. “There is something wrong with that methodology.”

The Post on Thursday published a story reporting that, according to a poll initiated by the newspaper, nine in 10 American Indians aren’t offended by the Redskins’ name.

Among Indians reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than seven in 10 said they did not think the word “Redskin” was disrespectful to Indians, the Post reported. An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name, according to the Post.

But Indians at Haskell aren’t buying it, at least not a number of them reached Thursday by the Journal-World.

“That’s crazy,” said Cody Marshall, a Salt River Pima-Maricopa tribe member and Haskell’s acting dean of natural and social sciences. He also teaches indigenous and American Indian studies.

“It’s definitely a racial slur, and I think that it’s the equivalency of the n-word.”

‘I don’t say it’

The Post article quoted one man who said he liked the team name and that Indians call other Indians “skins,” too.

Haskell student Terrence Littlejohn, who just finished his junior year, said that word isn’t used by anyone in his world. He actually refers to the pro-football team aloud as “the Washington racial slurs.”

Littlejohn is both Indian and black, he said. He’s a member of the Arapaho Tribe of Oklahoma, and also Jamaican and Samoan.

Littlejohn called the term redskin “malicious,” and just as bad for Indians as the n-word is for black Americans.

Fellow Haskell student Kyndall Noah, a senior and a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, agreed.

“I don’t think there’s any kind of differentiating the two words, they’re both racial slurs to me,” Noah said. He also likened its use to calling Hispanics “wetbacks.”

Faculty members Wildcat, Marshall and Rhonda LeValdo guess that a formal survey at Haskell would yield results directly opposite of the Post’s.

LeValdo, an Acoma Pueblo tribe member who teaches media and communications at Haskell, said she’s done informal polls about the Redskins in her classes. Usually two or three students say they don’t care and more like 90 percent say they’re against the name, she said.

LeValdo has an opinion about the word redskin.

“I don’t say it,” she said.

LeValdo said the word misrepresents who Indians are as people. It not only puts them “in a past description,” she said, but it also misrepresents what they actually look like. A glance around Haskell reveals students who may look Asian, hispanic, black or completely white — but they’re all enrolled tribal members, LeValdo explained.

Tribal enrollment matters?

Just two weeks ago, the woman leading a legal charge to change the name of the Washington Redskins spoke at Haskell’s commencement ceremony.

Amanda Blackhorse greets other guests during the Haskell Indian Nations University 2016 commencement ceremony Friday, May 6, 2016 on the HINU campus in Lawrence, Kan. Blackhorse, a former Haskell graduate gave the commencement address.

Amanda Blackhorse greets other guests during the Haskell Indian Nations University 2016 commencement ceremony Friday, May 6, 2016 on the HINU campus in Lawrence, Kan. Blackhorse, a former Haskell graduate gave the commencement address.

Amanda Blackhorse, a Haskell graduate and Navajo Nation member, is known nationally for being the lead plaintiff in Blackhorse et al v. Pro-Football Inc.

As a result of the lawsuit, in June 2014 the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board canceled the Redskins’ trademark registration, calling it disparaging to American Indians. The ruling does not force the Redskins to change their name, but advocates consider it a milestone in an ongoing battle.

Blackhorse told the Post its survey “trivializes” the damage the team’s name has inflicted on Indians.

“There’s no validity to this poll. Stereotypes are wrong and they’re demeaning. The Washington team name is a dictionary defined racial slur, that we do know,” Blackhorse said in the Post article. “If the Washington Post knew anything about the native community, they would know it is almost impossible to poll our nations, and it may come as a surprise, but there are more than just 500 of us.”

That’s another problem Haskell faculty members had with the poll.

There are 567 federally recognized American Indian and Alaska Native tribes, according to the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs. Census results indicate there are about 4.5 million Indians and Alaska Natives in the United States, but according to the bureau less than half of them — just under 2 million — are enrolled members of federally recognized tribes.

The Post’s poll counted opinions of 504 adults. According to the newspaper, it was conducted by randomly calling cellular and landline phones and questioning only people who identified themselves as Native American, after being asked about their ethnicity or heritage.

Wildcat called self-identification “problematic.”

“We have a lot of people in the United States who have the great-grandmother syndrome. Their great-grandmother, they heard, was a member of some tribe so they think of themselves as being American Indian or native,” Wildcat said. “Members of federally recognized tribes reject the notion that someone can just claim to be native or Indian.”

Haskell is open only to enrolled members of federally recognized tribes.

Wildcat said that while there’s definitely not a “100 percent consensus” about the Redskins, even among enrolled tribal members, he thinks the Post poll “runs in the face” of what official tribal nation leaders and their constituents say.

Redskins, other team names

Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, who has staunchly defended his team’s name, celebrated the findings of the Post poll.

“The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride,” he said in a statement published by the Post. “Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.”

The campus of Haskell Indian Nations University.

The campus of Haskell Indian Nations University.

Blackhorse, in her keynote speech at Haskell’s commencement, said she thinks all teams with Indian names and mascots should reconsider whether they’re appropriate — even Indian schools, the Haskell Fightin’ Indians included.

Among Indians, opinions about that definitely vary.

“You’re always going to find people who say, ‘Well, I’m not offended,’” Wildcat said. “It’s not always a black-and-white issue.”

Wildcat said he’s OK with the Florida State University Seminoles, for example. Their team name isn’t a slur or a generalization, it’s the specific name of the Seminole Tribe of Florida, leaders of which have actually supported and helped guide its use there.

Redskins, however, is a “racist colonial description” in no way analogous to the FSU and Seminole Tribe of Florida cooperation, Wildcat said.

Marshall said he has a “working list of priorities” in terms of Indian mascots.

Redskins — completely unacceptable — is at the top, he said.

Next is the Cleveland Indians. He doesn’t have a problem with their name but does have a problem with their logo, which appears on players’ uniforms, a caricature-like face with a big feather and skin that’s actually crimson in color.

The Cleveland Indians logo is emblazoned on Ryan Raburn's jersey as he prepares for an at-bat during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Friday, June 26, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

The Cleveland Indians logo is emblazoned on Ryan Raburn's jersey as he prepares for an at-bat during a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Friday, June 26, 2015, in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Teams with more “ambiguous” names like the Kansas City Chiefs and the Atlanta Braves are lower on his list, Marshall said. He has mixed feelings about them, somewhat dependent on how the names originated and the ways the teams represent Indian culture.

Julia Good Fox, a Pawnee Nation member and Haskell’s acting vice president of academics, said Snyder or the NFL would never use mockeries of black or hispanic Americans as sports logos.

She said calling Washington’s team the Redskins is “a symptom of this country’s failure to acknowledge its past.”

“This denial of the past allows them to dehumanize another group of people in a way that would not be acceptable — in fact there would be a national outcry — if done today to another population of people,” Good Fox said. “If the majority of the United States is not upset or does not see what is wrong with using these types of mascots, then obviously the issue is much deeper than a simple ‘offended or not’ matter.”

Comments

Beth Ennis 10 months ago

I agree that the name should change and that all teams using names should examine carefully the origins of the name and if it should change. These teams reluctance to change their names is disgraceful.

Rob Slone 10 months ago

“We have a lot of people in the United States who have the great-grandmother syndrome. Their great-grandmother, they heard, was a member of some tribe so they think of themselves as being American Indian or native,” Wildcat said. “Members of federally recognized tribes reject the notion that someone can just claim to be native or Indian.”

Interesting. NOW who sounds prejudiced?

Jeanette Kekahbah 10 months ago

Rob, why does that sound prejudiced to you?

David Hollenshead 10 months ago

And then there are some of us, who after decades of being the "other" without knowing our ancestry due to adoption, who discover our background at the dentists or doctors office.

For me, it was breaking one of the teeth in my upper jaw, the ones with one giant root, due to the roots being fuzed together. And also discovering that my dentist had never done such an extraction, and didn't even have the proper tool to pull the root out. Which explains why I can't buy shoes that fit, our unusual bone structure, why racists usually think my sister is Latino, even my mom's poor ability to metabolize alcohol, etc.

The crazy part is that I have repeatedly told First People who asked about my background, that no, while my grandmother was 1/4, my mom was adopted, and thus I am not. I always had a distaste for White people claiming First People Ancestry to be cool.

Armen Kurdian 10 months ago

This is never going to end, these crazy quests by people to find something to be offended by.

YOU HAVE NO RIGHT TO NOT BE OFFENDED BY SOMETHING!

Redskins will never win a Super Bowl so long as Snyder is the Owner. But for this alone, it's worth it for him to stay at the helm.

Bob Forer 10 months ago

Who appointed you to determine what are appropriate human feelings and reactions?

Jeanette Kekahbah 10 months ago

"During the entire history of America until the turn of the twentieth century, Indigenous Americans were hunted, killed, and forcibly removed from their lands by European settlers.[19] This includes the paying of bounties beginning in the colonial period with, for example, a proclamation declaring war against the Penobscot Indians in 1755. Issued by Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phips (and commonly as the Phips Proclamation[20][21]), the proclamation orders "His Majesty's subjects to Embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and Destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians." The colonial government paid 50 pounds for scalps of males over 12 years, 25 pounds for scalps of women over 12, and 20 pounds for scalps of boys and girls under 12. Twenty-five British pounds sterling in 1755, worth around $9,000 today—a small fortune in those days when an English teacher earned 60 pounds a year.[20]

Though the proclamation itself does not use the word, an historical association between the use of "redskin" and the paying of bounties can be made from newspapers of the time. In 1863, a Winona, Minnesota, newspaper, the Daily Republican, printed an announcement: "The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth."[22] A news story published by the Atchison Daily Champion in Atchison, Kansas, on October 9, 1885, tells of the settlers' "hunt for redskins, with a view of obtaining their scalps" valued at $250.[23] In An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, "redskin" is said not to refer to scalps, but to the bloody bodies left behind by scalp-hunters.[24] This association can evoke strongly negative sentiments. In a 2014 interview after the Trademark decision, lead petitioner Amanda Blackhorse expressed her opinion: "The name itself actually dates back [to] the time when the Native American population was being exterminated, and bounty hunters were hired to kill Native American people [...] So, in order to show that they made their kill, they had to bring back a scalp or their skin."[25]" (from Wikipedia)

Yes I am going to post that AGAIN. This time for you, Armen Kurdian. Would you like to repeat YOUR comment again?

Mike Ford 10 months ago

Native people have fought this mascot for four decades. The coach who coined the name faked his ancestry and stereotyped multiple indigenous nations wirh an emblem that's easy to digest for White historical consumption with no reality involved. Imagine if I was Armenian and a non Armenian group decided how I was portrayed without asking out of priviledge and denied that any atrocities ever happened and no one listened to my concerns and misrepresented me anyway? Ironic.

Kathleen Christian 10 months ago

I think there are more serious things happening in this world then debating of the name of a football team.

Bob Forer 10 months ago

If you were a member of an historically oppressed group, perhaps you might have a different perspective and opinion on the issue's importance.

Jeanette Kekahbah 10 months ago

"During the entire history of America until the turn of the twentieth century, Indigenous Americans were hunted, killed, and forcibly removed from their lands by European settlers.[19] This includes the paying of bounties beginning in the colonial period with, for example, a proclamation declaring war against the Penobscot Indians in 1755. Issued by Lieutenant Governor Spencer Phips (and commonly as the Phips Proclamation[20][21]), the proclamation orders "His Majesty's subjects to Embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and Destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians." The colonial government paid 50 pounds for scalps of males over 12 years, 25 pounds for scalps of women over 12, and 20 pounds for scalps of boys and girls under 12. Twenty-five British pounds sterling in 1755, worth around $9,000 today—a small fortune in those days when an English teacher earned 60 pounds a year.[20]

Though the proclamation itself does not use the word, an historical association between the use of "redskin" and the paying of bounties can be made from newspapers of the time. In 1863, a Winona, Minnesota, newspaper, the Daily Republican, printed an announcement: "The state reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth."[22] A news story published by the Atchison Daily Champion in Atchison, Kansas, on October 9, 1885, tells of the settlers' "hunt for redskins, with a view of obtaining their scalps" valued at $250.[23] In An Indigenous Peoples' History of the United States, "redskin" is said not to refer to scalps, but to the bloody bodies left behind by scalp-hunters.[24] This association can evoke strongly negative sentiments. In a 2014 interview after the Trademark decision, lead petitioner Amanda Blackhorse expressed her opinion: "The name itself actually dates back [to] the time when the Native American population was being exterminated, and bounty hunters were hired to kill Native American people [...] So, in order to show that they made their kill, they had to bring back a scalp or their skin."[25]" (from Wikipedia)

THAT is NOT serious, Kathleen? Human decency isn't serious? Why isn't respect for people indigenous to this continent -- descendants of those who SURVIVED this GENOCIDE -- seriously happening? Seriously sad it's so easy for you, Kathleen, and others, to insist this is meaningless and undeserving of attention.

Bob Smith 10 months ago

You're giving Richard a run for his money in the copy / paste competition.

Jeanette Kekahbah 10 months ago

Am giving information. About this topic. No idea who Richard is or what he does and this is not a competition. Trust me, i dig humor and sarcasm. There are, however, MUCH better places for it than here and now, IMHO.

Bob Smith 10 months ago

Posting the same long block of text twice on the same thread in less about 5 minutes is a bit beyond the pale. Hang around this forum for a while longer and you'll encounter one of the sets of links that Richard has been posting for the last ten years or so. BTW, we all know what they say about opinions.

Mike Ford 10 months ago

If an uninformed populace see hundreds of tribes as nothing more than a stereotypical mascots how are issues taken seriously? Short answer....they haven't been.

Clara Westphal 10 months ago

In an Oklahoma history textbook, it explains that the term 'red skin' came from the practice of Indians mixing the Oklahoma red dirt with water to make a paste to smear on their faces before a battle.

Bob Summers 10 months ago

I'd be proud of an NFL team named the Paleface's.

Why don't the casino tribes that do not share their billions with other tribes, buy a team and name it The Palefaces?

cool

Jeremiah Jefferson 10 months ago

What if they just replaced the current logo on the helmet with a redskin potato instead? Would that still be racist? Just asking because I'm not so sure anymore.

Bob Summers 10 months ago

Redskins is only racist to people with the unique nature.

Richard Aronoff 10 months ago

If the Washington, DC football team is somehow forced to change its name then the state of Oklahoma will need to change its name since it means "Red People

Mike Ford 10 months ago

False arguement put forth out of ignorance deliberately. Okla humma put forth by Choctaw Chairman Allen Wright after Sequoyah wasn't accepted as a territory name. Janette Kekahbah was correct in the origin of the term in question. Ignorant people use an offensive term and their descendants are clueless to the offensiveness. Go figure.

Bob Smith 10 months ago

Just another bozo broke his going on 3 year silence to pm me. The delicate flower thinks I'm a hippogriff.

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