indianz.com your internet resource indianz.com on facebook indianz.com on twitter indianz.com on Google+ indianz.com on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Native American Bank - Native people investing in Native communities
Advertise on Indianz.Com
Home > News > Headlines
Print   Subscribe
Tim Giago: NFL team's mascot will slowly fade like an old soldier

Filed Under: Opinion | Sports
More on: mascots, nfl, racism, redskins, suzan shown harjo, tim giago
     


Tim Giago. Photo by Talli Nauman

Like an old soldier maybe the Redskin mascot will slowly fade away
Notes from Indian Country
By Tim Giago (Nanwica Kciji)
© Native Sun News

Neil Cavuto, a broadcaster with the Fox Business Network, can’t be blamed for looking askance at the decision by the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office for cancelling the Washington professional football team’s ownership of the name “Redskins” and the patent protections that go with it.

Cavuto was looking at it from a purely business point of view. When he wrote that it has only been in the past couple of years that this has become a contentious political issue he was dead wrong. Of course he had no reason to know what was happening to Native Americans and what their feelings were about this issue even though we had been making noises about it for more than 30 years. No Neil, it was not just a couple of years ago when this issue first came up.

I started writing locally (South Dakota) about the use of the word “Redskins” in 1982 and I wrote about it nationally for Newsweek Magazine in the January 27, 1992 issue. One year before that Suzan Harjo, Michael Haney and I appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show and confronted a die-hard Redskin fan about the use of the word.

When Suzan, Michael and I were having lunch that day before the show we noticed this white guy standing at the bar throwing down drinks. We were very surprised when this turned out to be the guy who was going to speak up in defense of the Washington football team. Michael Haney later referred to the confrontation as “Three sober Indians and one drunken white guy.” Native Americans are often depicted as “drunken Indians” so this reversal of roles was pretty ironic to us. Oprah apologized to us for having him on the show.

In his anger over how this would impact the business end of the Washington NFL franchise, Cavuto wrote, “Redskins” today? “Red Bull” tomorrow? Should the Cleveland Indians worry? Or the Atlanta Hawks?”

If he had been following the historic battle of Native Americans fighting to remove all usage of their image as mascots for America’s fun and games he would have known that one of the first confrontations between Native Americans and the police involved a protest against the aforementioned Cleveland Indians in 1982. A lawsuit brought by activist Russell Means in 1983 against the Cleveland baseball team was settled out of court for $35,000. The Chief Wahoo mascot is still considered to be demeaning by Native Americans. If such a racist caricature of any other race, black, Hispanic, or Asian was displayed publicly as a mascot all hell would be raised by members of those minorities.

Native Americans have every reason to detest the Washington team’s use of the “Redskin” mascot. For one, to name a mascot after the color of a people’s skin is in itself racist. Why did the Pekin, Illinois High School mascot known by all of the fans as the “Chinks” become extinct? Simply put: it was considered to be racist. Why doesn’t that common sense reasoning apply to Native Americans?

There was a time in the not so glorious past of this country when bounties were being offered for “Redskins.” Literally! The skin of an Indian man, woman or child brought a bounty to the person who bagged the “Redskin.” Most history books have long since erased this little part of American history because it does not reflect well upon the imagined morals of a nation.

When Suzan Harjo was asked on the Oprah Winfrey Show why it was that some Native Americans did not object to being used as mascots she replied, “There were also happy campers on the old plantations in the South.”

When the “Redskin” fans took a pig and painted it red and put a miniature feathered war bonnet on its head and proceeded to chase it around the football field at halftime, for me that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Now imagine if they had taken that same pig and painted it black and put an Afro wig on its head? Would that not be considered racist? You can bet your bottom dollar it would.

I think if Neil Cavuto and many other die-hard Redskin fans could walk a mile in our figurative moccasins, they would begin to see things a little differently. But in the interim, I have been writing about this for more than 30 years and to see something positive finally happening warms my heart. It just shows that persistence and patience can be rewarding. In a business sense I know where Cavuto is coming from and I feel sorry for how it will impact Dan Snyder, but all he has to do to remedy the situation is to change the name.

Tim Giago is an Oglala Lakota and is the editor and publisher of Native Sun News. He was the founder and original publisher of Indian Country Today. Giago was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard with the Class of 1991. He can be reached at editor@nsweekly.com


Copyright © Indianz.Com
More headlines...
Stay Connected:
On Facebook

On Twitter

On Google+

On SoundCloud
Local Links:
Federal Register | Indian Gaming | Jobs & Notices | In The Hoop | Message Board
Latest News:
Obama administration asks tribes about infrastructure projects (9/23)
House passes measure to combat illegal sale of tribal property (9/23)
Mike Rounds: Righting historical wrongs against Native citizens (9/23)
Indian Health Service names new medical officer in Great Plains (9/23)
Interior Department finalizes rule for Native Hawaiian relations (9/23)
Native Sun News Today: Democrat accepts invitation to debate (9/23)
Jeffrey Whalen: A failed experiment in socialism at Pine Ridge (9/23)
Mary Annette Pember: A young boy's journey to Standing Rock (9/23)
Harlan McKosato: Obama must keep promise to Indian people (9/23)
Dean Suagee: Native input needed to guide future of our parks (9/23)
Another North Dakota tribe battles pipeline company in court (9/23)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe extends Class III gaming compact again (9/23)
Top gaming executive on Navajo Nation put on leave with pay (9/23)
Bill slammed as 'modern day Indian land grab' moves forward (9/22)
Republican lawmaker eagerly defends Dakota Access Pipeline (9/22)
Appeals court in DC sets stage for October 5 #NoDAPL hearing (9/22)
Bureau of Indian Affairs role in #NoDAPL 'task force' in doubt (9/22)
Miami language champion Daryl Baldwin earns 'genius grant' (9/22)
Landowners from Lower Brule Sioux Tribe see $11M in offers (9/22)
Mark Trahant: Politicians can no longer ignore the Native vote (9/22)
Native Sun News Today: Nation rallies to #NoDAPL movement (9/22)
Dave Archambault Sr.: History unfolds on Standing Rock land (9/22)
David Ganje: Standing Rock Sioux Tribe takes stand for water (9/22)
Democracy Now: Sacred Stone Camp founder standing ground (9/22)
Cronkite News: Navajo Nation pushes for cleanup of mine site (9/22)
Harold Monteau: #NoDAPL movement draws a line in the sand (9/22)
Judge restores affidavit option for North Dakota Native voters (9/22)
Editorial: Long overdue federal recognition for Virginia tribes (9/22)
Tohono O'odham Nation seeks sanctions in fight over casino (9/22)
California governor keeps busy with tribal gaming compacts (9/22)
County sheriff leads investigation into #NoDAPL confrontation (9/21)
Federal appeals court sets October 5 hearing in #NoDAPL case (9/21)
Tribes deliver Wisconsin firewood to Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (9/21)
Democrats host forum on Dakota Access Pipeline on Capitol Hill (9/21)
Uncertainty on land-into-trust as Obama era comes to a close (9/21)
more headlines...

Home | Arts & Entertainment | Business | Canada | Cobell Lawsuit | Education | Environment | Federal Recognition | Federal Register | Forum | Health | Humor | Indian Gaming | Indian Trust | Jack Abramoff Scandal | Jobs & Notices | Law | National | News | Opinion | Politics | Sports | Technology | World

Indianz.Com Terms of Service | Indianz.Com Privacy Policy
About Indianz.Com | Advertise on Indianz.Com

Indianz.Com is a product of Noble Savage Media, LLC and Ho-Chunk, Inc.