Schimmel, a member of the Confederated Tribes of the
Umatilla Indian Reservation who played in the NCAA basketball championships this spring, speaks out against the use of racist mascots in sports:
In the past, Schimmel was reluctant to speak publicly about topics close to her heart, for fear she might turn people off. Now, she is gradually owning and accepting the megaphone that sports has given her. She is one of the most prominent athletes of Native American heritage, one who finds herself at the nexus of a hot-button issue: Should the NFL's Washington Redskins change their nickname?
Two years ago, maybe even last year, Schimmel would have deflected the question. Not anymore.
"I would change the name of the Redskins mainly for the Native American people as a whole," Schimmel says. "It's about respect for the Native American race, especially to not promote the racism carried over from the past. It was racist to be called a 'redskin' back in the day, so what makes it OK today? There isn't a team called 'whiteskins' or 'blackskins' -- how would that go over with the world?
"Just because what our people went through was hundreds of years ago doesn't mean we forgot what happened, forgot what our elders went through. Changing the name would help give us, as Native Americans, the same equality that every other race wants."
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