Opinion: 'Redskins' a slur to Native Americans

"I know that football is not in the air. I should be following the Nationals or the Wizards. But NFL mini-camps are just around the corner, and something has been bothering me:

The name Redskins must go.

I am a lifelong fan. I know that many fans say: If you change the name, you'll cut a link to our city's storied football history. More to the point, they argue, "Redskins" was originally chosen as a celebration of Native American strength.

But words such as "redskin" are defined not by individual speakers -- not by you or me or Daniel Snyder -- but by a society of speakers. And whatever its connotation in the past, in 2007, "redskin" is a slur. Check a dictionary. Here is the Webster's definition, for example:

Redskin: n. Offensive. American Indian.

Our football history might be proud, but the dictionary says -- our society says -- that our team name is shameful. We should stop being stubborn. If we change the name now, with Joe Gibbs coaching, we'll have continuity to our football history built in."

Get the Story:
Mary T. Lane: The Washington G-Men? (The Washington Post 4/21)

Appeals Court Decision:
Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo (July 15, 2005)

Lower Court Decision:
Pro-Football, Inc. v. Harjo (September 30, 2003)

Patent and Trademark Office Ruling:
Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (1999)

Relevant Links:
Redskins - http://www.redskins.com

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