your internet resource on facebook on twitter on Google+ on soundcloud
phone: 202 630 8439
Dynamic Homes
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

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:
White House blasts Native American Energy Act ahead of vote (10/8)
House Natural Resources Committee approves two Indian bills (10/8)
First Nations Development Institute awards $250K for ranching (10/8)
Native Sun News: Lone Indian voice opposes mountain lion hunt (10/8)
Lakota Country Times: Wind power comes to Rosebud community (10/8)
Delphine Red Shirt: Scandal shuts down program for Indian youth (10/8)
Vince Two Eagles: Native medicine goes back thousands of years (10/8)
Jay Daniels: Indian lands still face threat from state governments (10/8)
Steven Newcomb: Religious doctrine guides Indian law and policy (10/8)
Brian Pierson: Recent federal court decisions affecting Indian law (10/8)
Choctaw Nation and Chickasaw Nation celebrate trust settlement (10/8)
Actor joked about taking tribal artifacts from ranch in New Mexico (10/8)
Tuolumne Band of Me-Wuk Indians gives $100K for cancer center (10/8)
Indian gaming industry grew 116 percent between 2001 and 2013 (10/8)
Arizona tribes on road to recovery with $1.81B in casino revenues (10/8)
Pojoaque Pueblo secures injunction in New Mexico casino dispute (10/8)
Little River Band sees off-reservation casino as boost for revenue (10/8)
Pioneering tribes share experiences with prosecuting non-Indians (10/7)
Senate Committee on Indian Affairs approves two bills at meeting (10/7)
Congress approves land-into-trust bill for Pueblos in New Mexico (10/7)
House Natural Resources Committee holds markup on Indian bills (10/7)
Native Sun News: Rival teams meet on football field at Pine Ridge (10/7)
Lakota Country Times: Tribes receive $940M in Ramah settlement (10/7)
James Giago Davies: Embrace distance running in Indian Country (10/7)
Brandon Ecoffey: Powerful forces aim to keep out the Native vote (10/7)
Thomas Perez: Youth on Wind River Reservation share high hopes (10/7)
Stephen Corry: Native people displaced for sake of 'conservation' (10/7)
States oppose tribal jurisdiction in upcoming Supreme Court case (10/7)
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe challenges Indian education reforms (10/7)
Two indicted for death of Seminole Nation man who went missing (10/7)
Saginaw Chippewa Tribe donates bottled water for city residents (10/7)
Mohegan Tribe swears in four council members following election (10/7)
Tribes in Amazon rainforest defend homeland from illegal loggers (10/7)
Chukchansi Tribe accused of illegal vote and casino preparations (10/7)
Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe suspends gaming official after arrest (10/7)
Tribes to share in Keno revenues under new deal with Connecticut (10/7)
Seminole Tribe remains in talks for new Class III gaming compact (10/7)
Controversy stirs as House takes up Native American Energy Act (10/6)
Native Sun News: Crow Tribe leader advises Rep. Zinke on energy (10/6)
Lakota Country Times: Program for Native students closes down (10/6)
Mark Trahant: Far too many missing and murdered Native women (10/6)
Alfred Walking Bull: Let's open up about suicide in Indian Country (10/6)
Raina Thiele: Alaska Natives share culture with President Obama (10/6)
Mary Pember: Fashion show tackles trafficking in Indian Country (10/6)
Torivio Fodder: Pope Francis ignores sins of Indian mission era (10/6)
Sac and Fox Nation disappointed by denial of Jim Thorpe case (10/6)
Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribe expects big crowd for pot kickoff (10/6)
Colville Tribes pass resolution for small amounts of marijuana (10/6)
Disaster declaration covers Catawba Nation in South Carolina (10/6)
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.