A screen shot of Goldtooth's Facebook page with the 1863 newspaper clipping and his comments that sparked discussion on Facebook.

Dakota Man Exposes Vile History of 'Redskins'

Rachael Johnson
11/13/13

“It was only five generations ago that a white man could get money for one of my grandfather’s scalps,” writes Dallas Goldtooth on a Facebook post. “At this time…it was “Redskin” that was used to describe us.”

To the left of Goldtooth’s words, a newspaper clipping from 1863 advertises a reward, “The State reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory. This sum is more than the dead bodies of all the Indians east of the Red River are worth.”

“The ‘Redskins’ they were talking about were my ancestors,” Goldtooth said during a phone interview. “Here in front of me was the evidence.”

Goldtooth, Dakota, from Minnesota, explained that the newspaper clipping was published after the U.S. Dakota Wars of 1862. His ancestors, the Dakota people, had just lost the war and were banished from the state. If they were found still “illegally” residing there after the war, bounty hunters targeted them. The “County ticket” that Goldtooth posted was a reminder of the past.

“The reason a lot of Dakota fled was because of that newspaper clipping,” Goldtooth said.

Goldtooth said that he first learned about this Dakota history and the word “Redskin” growing up in Minnesota. But reliving that history in the midst of the Washington NFL team’s name-change debate really struck him. “It’s a perfect visual description and tie to the past usage of the word and how people perceived Native people,” Goldtooth said. “It has a very personal attachment.”

RELATED NCAI Report: Redskins Name Has 'Ugly and Racist Legacy' 

A personal attachment that the NFL team’s owner, Dan Snyder, doesn’t seem to understand. Snyder’s letter to his season-ticket holders last month spelled out his reason for not changing the team’s name. He said, "Our franchise has a great history, tradition and legacy representing our proud alumni and literally tens of millions of loyal fans worldwide… We are proud of our team and the passion of our loyal fans. Our fans sing 'Hail to the Redskins' in celebration at every Redskins game. They speak proudly of 'Redskins Nation' in honor of a sports team they love."

“He brought up the language, ‘legacy,’” Goldtooth said of Snyder. “That’s true, but that word has a much longer legacy. That word was attached to bounty’s; is that what you want?” Despite Snyder’s letter, Goldtooth said he’s optimistic that the team will eventually change its name; but he said it would take time.

Goldtooth found the image on his friend’s Instagram account and decided to post it on his Facebook page. Currently, the post has 895 likes and 3,106 shares. The clipping is from The Daily Republican, a paper in Winona, Minnesota, which is one of Minnesota’s historical newspapers. 

A copy of the clipping from The Daily Republican that Goldtooth posted on his site.

He said his post attracted two different audiences. People who did not understand how the name “Redskins” was offensive to Native Americans—saying that the name’s just the name of a football team.

For example, Felisha Suggs, who commented on the posting said, “Wow.. you should be honored to have a "Redskin" mascot! Mascot is a good thing! It shows you're tough.. people against this are going way overboard.. it has nothing to do with race! I would love to be named a mascot!”

Goldtooth said that the other group was “of our own Native people who don’t think it’s important enough to address [the Redskins name-change debate].” Many wrote that the Native community should focus on other more important issues like, health care, poverty, and giving tribes more control over their communities. Goldtooth argued, “We can multi-task.”

“Very good thoughts, Dallas. My hope is that truly we work through our ‘multi-faceted beast’ with a multi-faceted approach, because it's starting to look like our people get mostly active protesting how we look in pop culture,” Ishmael Angaluuk Hope wrote. “While the goal to become positively depicted in pop culture is a good one, if it's our major effort, our work is shaped by how other people see us. Gunalchéesh.”

Goldtooth said that he was most surprised to receive comments from Natives who were unaware of the “Redskin” bounty history. “Wow. Never knew that. Thanks for teaching me something new. ‘Taikuu.’ Thank you in Inupiaq language,” one comment said.

Goldtooth’s also heard stories that were allegedly told by unnamed elders: “'There’s a story from the elders about a town that is really racist and the elders said, ‘let them be.’” He said their argument is that the past is the past and you can’t change it. “But when it’s something ongoing," Goldtooth said, "It’s happening today, you have to address it."

Alex Paul’s comment on Goldtooth's post proves that people’s minds can be changed if there is a discussion. “As a white man, I just thought it was just a name (somewhat racist, but that team came out a long time ago). Now I understand where it came from, and I agree it should be changed, but it should also be remembered so we know not to use it again.”

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marc's picture
marc
Submitted by marc on
my ancestry is mikmac redskins was known in these partsalso in new brunswick canada and maine usa plus other areas natives of earlyer years where known to color with red clay ect lots of histiry on our culture and people yet to discover and learn

Noel lyle-Stirling's picture
Noel lyle-Stirling
Submitted by Noel lyle-Stirling on
As a child watching cowboy films,I was always on the Indians side .The american history, from the colonists side,is pure propaganda and people need to know the truth of what really happened.

didjeridude's picture
didjeridude
Submitted by didjeridude on
as for thinking that natives should not focus on the name, but more important things like poverty, health care, etc..., then does that mean that black people should not let the n-word bother them & focus on more important things?

Douglas Baker's picture
Douglas Baker
Submitted by Douglas Baker on
For some, when they say "redskin" their intention is to put down the same way and for the same purpose "nigger" was used down home on the plantation. Once there was a fierce rivalry between Dallas "Cowboys" major owner Client Murchison, Jr. and the then owner of the "Redskins". Murchison, Jr. bought the rights to the Washington "Redskins" song and unhanded it to the then "Redskin" owner for consideration. In one sense a Football franchise in the nation's Capitol called Washington "Redskins" makes sense as with out the accidental and later intentional genocide against the native American nations Imperialist America would never developed and expanded to the country that we've become with Fort Apaches moved from the Southwest of the U.S.A. around the world with carriers leaving wakes on the world's water ways and high flying drones buzzing where they are directed.

Lynn kraemer's picture
Lynn kraemer
Submitted by Lynn kraemer on
In honor of my family and theirs WHY DISRESPECT? The shit that happen then has no place in our future now! Was wrong then and is wrong now!

Kat Martinez's picture
Kat Martinez
Submitted by Kat Martinez on
I have seen photos in old books of caucasian men standing holding rifles with one foot on the body of a Native person and the family dead all around him, blood on the snow. Native people know and live the intentional and discriminative attitude against our people today in that we are not acknowledged as people or humans. What is this ignorance? What is the fear? Crimes against humanity in North\South America. When will this be put in court and finally judged so Native people can rest and live not because someone else will "allow" us but because we do not have to ask anyone elses permission??? In this day and age, crimes are punishable by law. Those crimes were activated through the intentional and full acknowledgement of the governments. Time to face the crime and be judged by the rules enforced on those found guilty.

sioux indians's picture
sioux indians
Submitted by sioux indians on
sioux

Sherrill's picture
Sherrill
Submitted by Sherrill on
Many states had such laws...check out Texas for instance. I believe the law to kill Native Americans is still on the books. I haven't seen anything that says it's been repealed.

Thom Allen's picture
Thom Allen
Submitted by Thom Allen on
Genocide by any other name is still genocide. Pride in a sports teams record is one thing. Giving the team an inapproriate and offensive name is another. This name, while honoring the native people in a typically white-ignorant fashion, is like revering a people while continuing to stick thorns in their skin. The result is ignorant arrogance on the part of the team's owners and fans. Do they mean to say that changing the name to "The Natives" or "The First Americans" would lessen their pride in the team? In this day, their own ignorance is their own legacy.

sunshine l.k. harland's picture
sunshine l.k. h...
Submitted by sunshine l.k. h... on
these tag titles red shins, white eyes, Niger extra . were slang for people different social ,ethnic ,& religious cultures placed on them by frightened people and those feeling themselves superior to others .in an attempt divide,, control and eliminate the difference

Martin Goodman's picture
Martin Goodman
Submitted by Martin Goodman on
To me, the term meant people who were courageous and brave. I was ignorant of the dark, genocidal meaning. Thank you for setting me straight.

Kathy Humphrey's picture
Kathy Humphrey
Submitted by Kathy Humphrey on
I'll never be able to hear the "Redskin" name again without a shudder of horror. Of course the team should change their name. We should be deeply grateful to Goldtooth for having the courage and strength to reveal this story.

Gregg Jones's picture
Gregg Jones
Submitted by Gregg Jones on
This is comparing apples to oranges. This is history of how the word 'redskin' was created and the date. Okay. The English language has syonymes. Some words do have more than one meaning (i.e. Queer - could mean homosexual or something is odd) (i.e. Gay - could mean homosexual or a state of happiness) Redskins has more than one meaning too.

Gunditjmara/Gunnai woman Aust's picture
Gunditjmara/Gun...
Submitted by Gunditjmara/Gun... on
Not an excuse anymore that people don't know about history in their own country people will never change if never expected too!

Deanna Foster's picture
Deanna Foster
Submitted by Deanna Foster on
Yes, I lived in NorVA outside DC for 20 years after being raised in NorCA near Stanford. I remember when Stanford was called the Stanford Indians. They got rid of that mascot many, many years ago. When I moved to DC I was shocked to see their mascot name. And by the way, after the gold rush in CA got underway (after 1949) there was a push to exterminate the American Indians living in CA and the CA and Federal governments were giving monetary rewards for "scalps" of Indians. What is wrong with people anyway to do such a thing? But the point is that "Redskins" brings up horrible images everywhere. I would love to see this mascot go. Please.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
To Gregg Jones below: Certainly words evolve continuously, but their original meaning remains the same, especially if it's a racial slur. The meaning of "Redskins" hasn't changed just your perception of it has changed. To you it's a football team. To Native Americans it's a slap in the face by the city that launched a genocide against all NDN people. If you actually believe that a word can change so drastically from its original meaning, I heartily encourage you to go into the African-American section of your town and call someone there a nigger. How much time do you think you'll have to explain that the word has "evolved" and no longer means the same thing it used to? Shout out to Dallas Goldtooth (of the 1491s fame). You rule Dallas and thanks for becoming involved in this controversy. The proof is on the paper!
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