Opinion | Sports

Chelsey Luger: Washington NFL team doesn't own our identity

The logo for the Change the Mascot campaign

Chelsey Luger explains why the Washington NFL team's name doesn't honor Native people:
When my dad says it, it's endearing. When I see it on the back of a jersey, it's irritating. Yes, I'm talking about the word "Redskins" and no, I'm not particularly troubled if that's a double standard. What I am is angry. Angry that Washington's football team just continues to play with a racial slur on their shirts, and angry that so many Americans remain complacent.

My dad calls us 'skins. He uses the word all the time; for example, last summer he hired an artist to repaint an antique sign -- a family heirloom that once welcome visitors to "The Diamond Z Ranch: RB Luger & Sons." On the sign was a faded outline of a man on a horse. My dad instructed the artist, "Don't make that jockey a white guy. Paint him brown. Make him a 'skin." He's proud of his heritage.

"You're a 'skin, my girl. You're tough," he used to say to me when I'd call home from my college on the East Coast, lonely and exhausted.

I grew up all around North Dakota -- my homes are on two Reservations, the Turtle Mountain Chippewa Tribe and the Standing Rock Lakota Nation. Both my reservation's high schools have teams with Native names: The Belcourt Braves and the Standing Rock Warriors. My mentor writes a column called "The Thing About Skins." We use these words amongst ourselves.

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Chelsey Luger: The Word 'Redskins' and Natives: We've Earned the Right to Use It How We Want (The Huffington Post 9/24)

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