Opinion | Sports

William Ledford: Native support for racist mascot is news to me






Activist Winona LaDuke addresses mascot opponents in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 2, 2014. Photo from Simon Moya-Smith / Facebook

William Ledford, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, reacts to The Washington Post poll that said "ordinary" Native Americans aren't bothered by the local NFL team's racist mascot:
I’ve read a lot of comments regarding the racist slur used for the Washington NFL team. Mostly I’m baffled by the sheer ignorance expressed by supporters of the R word. The Webster dictionary identifies it as a slur and the US Trademark Office concurs. And now another reader’s poll states that the majority of Native people are OK with the slur used as a team name in Washington, DC. So, why the conflicting opinions?

The Annenberg Foundation, a well-respected fact checking entity, or so I hear, put out a poll in 2004 and just recently the Washington Post ran another. In both polls apparently an overwhelming majority of Native people supported the use of the slur. That news kinda surprised me as I’d never even heard of the Annenberg Foundation until the results of the poll were published, I had to do some research to see who they were. The Post? Not the kinda newspaper predominantly read on the Rez. I conducted a little more independent research. My findings? These polls were open to anyone that claimed to be Indian. Naturally these polls showed support because any Tom, Dick, Harry and Iron Eyes Cody could jump on, claim to be Indian and skew the results. It seems that the Annenberg Foundation and the Post didn’t bother finding actual Native people, you know, those folks that are enrolled in a federally recognized tribe based upon blood quantum or descendancy requirements to poll. They just assumed that people wouldn’t lie about something such as being Native to influence a poll.

When this subject comes up in the daily world I try avoid getting drawn into these conversations because I usually get irritated trying to define the difference between a Yankee, a Packer, a Cowboy, a Viking, a Fighting Irish and the Native race to allegedly intelligent people. My responses to this stuff usually get people riled and then it becomes fun to me. Let’s start with Viking. Not a race of people. Simply a job, a vocation, an endeavor. When Scandinavians of old went out raping, murdering and pillaging they went Viking, a word to describe raiding. Not a race of people. Not that good of a football team either. Cowboy. Again, there’s not a race of people called Cowboys.

Get the Story:
William Ledford: Observations and random thoughts Vol. 9: Redskins is a racist slur issue (The Cherokee One Feather 6/1)

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