Opinion | Sports

Ray Young Bear: No tribal member wants to be known by R-word

The logo for the Change the Mascot campaign

Ray Young Bear, a member of the Meskwaki Tribe of Iowa, discusses the Washington NFL team name:
Is the Redskins name a priority in Meskwaki affairs? No. To me, feeding tribal children, elders, and veterans is more important. Having said that, I will share thoughts from my heart, ne te e ki-otti.

Myself, I only want to be referred to as a Meskwaki or Native American, not a Redskin. Truth be told, I’ve never known nor met a tribal member who openly wanted to be known as a Redskin.

So who speaks for tribal members here? It could be the Hereditary Chief or the Tribal Council. In the end, though, it’s really the Meskwaki electorate. If this contentious Redskins topic ever came to a vote, I would hope this community endorses the National Congress of American Indians, President Barack Obama, Ms. Hillary Clinton, 50 Capitol Hill lawmakers and others who support the football team’s name-change.

Regardless of its origins, the word “redskin” evolved over time to become a negative term. The linguistic past is insignificant when marketability of the Washington Redskins trademark is the bottom line, which, according to Forbes, was $381 million in 2012.

From what I’ve seen, money can and will oft-influence decisions that are at issue in American society. As such, one can only pray for the best outcome when a decision is rendered on the use of the name “Redskins.”

Get the Story:
Ray Young Bear: Redskins: Words matter (The Cedar Rapids Gazette 8/22)

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