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
Health Coverage for American Indians and Alaska Natives
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:
First Lady Michelle Obama shares story of hope with Indian school (5/26)
Remarks by First Lady Michelle Obama at Santa Fe Indian School (5/26)
Gary Davis of NCAIED joins Small Business Administration council (5/26)
Arne Vainio: A mother's gift carried me through many life journeys (5/26)
Native Sun News: Tribes score big in fights against energy projects (5/26)
Lakota Country Times: Education Secretary hears from Pine Ridge (5/26)
Ivan Star Comes Out: Ending Whiteclay beer sales starts at home (5/26)
Vi Waln: Rosebud Sioux youth lead efforts to bring relatives home (5/26)
Gyasi Ross: Drug epidemic sweeping through Native communities (5/26)
Jacqueline Keeler: Shameful and skewed poll on racist NFL name (5/26)
Interview with Melvin Monette about Cobell scholarship program (5/26)
Auction house in France won't stop sale of sacred tribal property (5/26)
United Keetoowah Band installs new leader after impeachment (5/26)
Kewa Pueblo builds new community around historic trading post (5/26)
Eastern Cherokee elder translates 'Charlotte's Web' into Tsalagi (5/26)
Puyallup Tribe works to keep language alive for new generations (5/26)
Iowa Tribe offers free play on poker website ahead of full launch (5/26)
Alabama-Coushatta Tribe offers gaming options closer to home (5/26)
Kaw Nation receives national award for tribal gaming initiatives (5/26)
Indian Health Service reform efforts gaining steam on Capitol Hill (5/25)
Indian Health Service announces more hires at troubled hospital (5/25)
Keepseagle attorneys open application process for $38M in grants (5/25)
Three tribes enter cooperative agreements for buy-back program (5/25)
New leader selected for HUD's Office of Native American Programs (5/25)
Indian relay racers gear up for event hosted by Muckleshoot Tribe (5/25)
Cronkite News: Tribes seek return of property up for sale in France (5/25)
Native Sun News: Anti-suicide effort incorporates tribal traditions (5/25)
Lakota Country Times: Pine Ridge youth showcase film projects (5/25)
Mark Trahant: Native vote victory for Tawna Sanchez in Oregon (5/25)
Brandon Ecoffey: Lakota people come together in times of need (5/25)
Editorial: Tribes must come up with plan for return of Black Hills (5/25)
John McCoy: Disenrollment and blood quantum are not our way (5/25)
Adrian Jawort: Addressing race relations and healing in Montana (5/25)
Fort Peck Tribes oppose new directive on transgender students (5/25)
Leader of United Keetoowah Band ousted through impeachment (5/25)
Agua Caliente Band launches software development company (5/25)
Sen. Barrasso to chair platform committee for GOP convention (5/25)
Cowlitz Tribe welcomes discussions with opponent over casino (5/25)
Little Traverse Bay Bands open doors to Class II gaming facility (5/25)
Tuolumne Band celebrates 15th birthday with casino expansion (5/25)
Former Winnebago Tribe casino employee denies theft charge (5/25)
Proposed rule brings LGBT equality to tribal housing programs (5/24)
Chairman of Quapaw Tribe endorses Democrat Hillary Clinton (5/24)
Appropriations bill blocks new federal recognition regulation (5/24)
Native American Children's Safety Act clears final Hill hurdle (5/24)
9th Circuit won't rehear Tohono O'odham Nation gaming case (5/24)
Lakota Country Times: Army promises return of tribal children (5/24)
Native Sun News: New business sprouts up at Wounded Knee (5/24)
Mark Trahant: Tulalip citizen lands role in Democratic platform (5/24)
Brandon Ecoffey: Pine Ridge unites for search of missing men (5/24)
Men who went missing found dead on Pine Ridge Reservation (5/24)
Billy Mills: Flawed poll can't justify use of team's racist mascot (5/24)
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.