Opinion | Sports

Tara Houska: A symbol of racism lives on in our nation's capital

Washington fan Anthony Jordan shows up at games dressed as "Chief J Strongbow." Photo from The Washington Post

Indigenous People's Day is marred by the continued presence of the Washington NFL team's racist mascot, argues attorney Tara Houska:
In Washington D.C., the celebration of another Washington team touchdown reverberated through the streets. The long-embattled football franchise was tied up with the Falcons, and hopeful fans were going nuts.

Across Indian Country, a celebration of a different kind happened. Native Americans throughout the U.S. hailed the signing of Assembly Bill 30 into law in California. The law mandates the four remaining schools that share the Washington team moniker to change their name. It was another victory in a string of name changes at public schools.

After testimony from Native American youth, tribal leaders, and psychologists, California became the first state to enact a statewide policy banning the use of a dictionary-defined slur. Study after study has concluded that Native American mascots have a negative effect on Native children’s self-esteem and further ingrain racial stereotypes.

Just a few weeks ago, a fellow Native American attorney addressed the Native American Bar Association of D.C. about an incident at his child’s Maryland school. Despite the findings of multiple legal bodies that the term disparages Native Americans and a self-imposed ban on Native mascots in Montgomery County, the principal wore a Washington team jersey to school.

Get the Story:
Tara Houska: California Ousts Native American Slur – Happy Indigenous Peoples Day, Indeed (Indian Country Today 10/12)

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