Source: facebook.com/joshualavar
'The Navajo Nation has finally joined the rest of Indian country in this fight,' syas Navajo Nation Councilman Joshua Lavar Butler.

Navajo Nation Officially Joins Fight Against Redskins Mascot

Gale Courey Toensing
4/11/14

The Navajo Nation Council has adopted a bill opposing the use of the name redskins, a term that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has called a “hurtful reminder. . .of the long history of mistreatment of Native American people in the United States.”

The Navajo Nation Council voted 9-2 on Thursday, April 10 on a bill called “Opposing the Use of Disparaging References to Native People in Professional Sports Franchises” introduced by Councilman Joshua Lavar Butler in March.

RELATED: Navajo Council Member Introduces Anti-Redskins Bill

“It was not easy but we finally got approval by the council and the Navajo Nation has finally joined the rest of Indian country in this fight,” Butler told ICTMN on Friday. “I think the actions of our council clearly show that [members] recognize the negative impacts such derogatory names cause for our people and also for Indian country.  As for our people, I think it gives them confidence in how they approach society and makes them proud to be Navajo knowing that their central government and their trust council finally took a position on this controversial topic.”

The council’s statement of opposition also applies to “disparaging references” to American Indians in other professional sports franchises. But it does not apply to college or high school mascots. The mascot for at least one high school on the Navajo Nation is the Redskins.

Butler’s proposal was brought before the council in March, but it was tabled, because there were obstacles, including a generational challenge, he said. “The older generation may be desensitized to the negative impact of the racial slur. We did a lot of educating and answering their questions and so forth. It was a grassroots effort that helped us, as well – young people voicing their concerns to the council,” Butler said.

A lot of support came from young urban Navajo citizens living off the reservation, Butler said. “These are young Navajos working, going to school, being professionals – I received a lot of praise from that sector. They really applauded this effort and are very happy,” he said.

The Navajo Nation is believed to be the first Original Nation to formally adopt a resolution opposing the offensive name. Butler said his staff had researched the issue, working with the Nation’s Washington office and could find no tribal council acting on it, only national organizations or individual advocates. He recommends that other nations follow the Navajo council model. “I’ve offered the Navajo Nation’s approved resolution as a template to present before their councils and get a stamp of approval from their governments as well,” Butler said.

By coincidence, on Friday -- the day after the Navajo council vote -- U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples James Anaya called on Dan Snyder, the owner of the Washington Redskins Football team, to consider that the term “redskins” is a “hurtful reminder” of the historic mistreatment of Native Americans in the U.S.

“While I am aware that there are some divergent views on this issue,” Anaya said, “I urge the team owners to consider that the term ‘redskin’ for many is inextricably linked to a history of suffering and dispossession, and that it is understood to be a pejorative and disparaging term that fails to respect and honor the historical and cultural legacy of the Native Americans in the US.”

Anaya reported  in 2012 (read PDF report here) that “the use of stereotypes obscures understanding of the reality of Native Americans today and instead help to keep alive racially discriminatory attitudes.” He said many stereotypes in the U.S. still portray Native Americans as relics of the past, perpetuated by the use of Indian names by professional and other high-profile sports teams, caricatures in the popular media and even mainstream education on history and social studies.

“Indigenous peoples have the right to the dignity and diversity of their cultures, traditions, histories and aspirations which shall be appropriately reflected in education and public information,” Anaya said, quoting the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (read PDF of Declaration here).

The Special Rapporteur’s comments drew applause from the Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI). Anaya’s statement comes on the heels of Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter’s January meeting with the UN on the topic, according to a joint media release issued Friday. (ICTMN is an enterprise of the Oneida Indian Nation.)

“The United Nations is the latest to dispel the absurd claim by Washington's football team and its owner Dan Snyder that the term ‘redskins’ honors Native Americans,”  Halbritter and NCAI Executive Director Jackie Pata said in the joint statement.  “This word is widely recognized throughout the globe as a racial slur. If the NFL wants to be a global brand that contributes to the positive image of the United States across the world, it needs to stop promoting this slur and change the name.”

NCAI is the nation’s oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization in the country, serving both federally recognized and “unrecognized” tribal governments and communities.  It has played a key role in opposing the Washington team’s continued use of the R-word racial epithet.  

Anaya’s statement is the latest expression of opposition against the offensive “redskins” name and mascot of the Washington football team. Since last fall when the Oneida Nation launched the nationwide Change the Mascot campaign to end the use of the racial slur,  the derogatory name has become a prominent civil and human rights issue garnering support from top leaders across the country and internationally. Bi-partisan Members of Congress, city councils, leading civil rights organizations, top sports icons, prominent journalists and even President Obama have all spoken out against the team’s continued use of the harmful epithet.

The growing Change the Mascot movement continues to gain support from top leaders and organizations. Following a nationwide radio campaign during the past NFL season, Change the Mascot plans to continue its push into the 2014 NFL season and beyond.

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bullbear's picture
bullbear
Submitted by bullbear on
I applaud the Navajo Nation tribal council for taking a bold stand and setting an example for all tribal nations to seriously consider following. I have asked the question before "Where do you stand?" In Navajoland, it took a vast effort to gain the support of its older generation, but it nevertheless came about. We cannot let this effort die on the vine! Tribal nations, again, "where do you stand?"

bullbear's picture
bullbear
Submitted by bullbear on
Tribal councilman, Joshua Butler, "you are a young man with great leadership abilities as demonstrated by truly listening the voice of the people and introducing legislation in the face of controversy. You will go far." Now, as I see it, Dan Snyder is but one man who is driven by the value of a dollar. Once he sees that dollar slipping away, his eyes and mind will begin to see his precious financial figures beginning to turn red and only then he will see that the term redskin, return with its own vengeance, and bite him in the ass. Any predictions on what the new mascot will be?

bullbear's picture
bullbear
Submitted by bullbear on
Peter McDonald, president of the Navajo Code Talkers, is still holding that the term redskins honors Native Americans. Old McDonald is an old horse, unable to recognize right from wrong, and should be put out to pasture - already. Sadly, there are many Navajo tribal members who still believe he is a great leader and blinded to the fact that during his tribal leadership - he caused people to die. They fail to see that he was found guilty of serious crimes and sent to prison. He has absolutely no business being a leader of any sort for anyone!

sweetgrass777's picture
sweetgrass777
Submitted by sweetgrass777 on
I have seen music groups on here including untalented singer Martha Red-bone with the name red in their name. So what is the problem. Petition for them to change their racist names as well. Indian folks are so hypocritical sometimes. Stop calling yourself Red and using the dam word yourselves before you tell anyone else to stop using it. I can find many examples of this. Don't just jump on one person but everyone and everyone alike!!!

bullbear's picture
bullbear
Submitted by bullbear on
In response to sweetgrass777 comments - Yes there are variances of names using red, but they are not connotations of racism. In fact, they are held with the highest of regards and as examples, tribal nations across Indian country have great pride in the family surnames such RedBear, Redbird, Red Wing and Redhair; the Redbone Society who honors its tribe by actively preserving its long-held traditions; or prominent geological formations located on reservation lands such as Red Mesa that denotes its surrounding communities as it is their unique vista. But redskins is highly offensive and not a name that tribal nations bestowed upon themselves. If a race of people asks or demands not to be referred to by an offensive name, everyone should respect their request and decision. They should not have to justify their requests through the courts, business world or educational institutions. As a society, we seek to make this a better world for everyone and holding onto racial slurs is non-progressive. If you seek respect - show respect!

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
I'm happy the Navajo nation jumped on the bandwagon. It can't hurt to have the largest tribe in the country back this. Ahéhee’ To Sweetgrass 777: Apparently you're confused about which word (or combination of words) is derogatory. The word RED itself doesn't cause anyone any grief. I can talk about a RED sunset, a RED car, or my friend REDhawk without pissing anyone off. Now, combine that word with SKIN and it becomes racist. How does it become racist? Well, it's talking about the color of someone's skin, and not in a very nice way. Neither you nor I speak for all NDNs, but at least I'm not speaking from apathy.

Wind_InHerHair's picture
Wind_InHerHair
Submitted by Wind_InHerHair on
If the Pro. Football team can't use the term "Red Skin" as their team name, why is it ok for Red Mesa High School to be titled the "Red Skins" and Shiprock High School "Chieftains"? Why is there a difference?

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
To Wind In Her Hair: Maybe it's because those high schools are actually comprised of Native American students whereas the NFL team doesn't boast a single Native American. I can't understand the resistance to changing the name, but then of course people once couldn't understand why they shouldn't use derogatory terms for Black, Asians, Italians, Irish . . .

sweetgrass777's picture
sweetgrass777
Submitted by sweetgrass777 on
bullbear Sorry but this is bull. Did we ever refer to ourselves as a color before white folks set foot here????? So all the tribes where going around calling themselves a color??? Red Bear, Red Hawk is some lame ass name we picked up from "Europeans" what where our actual Native names in our language? If the name is offensive it's offensive ok. Don't try to make it all pretty because it is not. If you keep feeding into the dam stereotype please tell me ho is it going to help our cause????

sweetgrass777's picture
sweetgrass777
Submitted by sweetgrass777 on
Michael Madrid Please stop acting like a spoiled child about this. This is why nobody take Native Americans seriously as we are a joke. Too self glorified and it ain't gettin us nowhere and no respect fast. Go ahead then keep calling yourselves "Red" everyone else will also. Next topic please......

100IndigenousAmerican's picture
100IndigenousAm...
Submitted by 100IndigenousAm... on
I am a Vietnam Vet raised speaking only Dine' Bizaad throughout my entire life in the presence family and friends, it is my opinion that the ultra-sensitive young with highly acculturated ambitions are invading my being as to what is unjust, moral, and "what my feelings should be" way too much. My off-springs and I are unaffected directly or indirectly by the name "Redskins". If you get rid of the “Redskin”, the hate will still exist with greater subtleties. Education using "common core" and assessments that promote perfecting your will to admire the likes of the other races and rewarding you for your rapid willingness to sound like a white is far more destructive. Young “educated” Indians admire many "fractionated DNA" Indians as leaders and role models that desire only upward mobility; these people calling themselves Indians are perfect “Trojan horses”, and they are more destructive to your brownness and traditional ancestral values than the mascot or name you wish to vanquish. Where is the fight against the injustices of Farmington, Gallup, Flagstaff and Phoenix? How about attacking the USBIE leadership for crimes against the future, BIE is full of relics and people that have absolutely no proof of success in education. Start the fight of injustices by helping the elderly and poor. Standing with beads, white clothes, and vitriolic hot air in voice only breeds more hate.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
To Sweetgrass777: It YOU who people aren't taking seriously. You sound like the typical apple - I'm guessing you're an NFL fan? I'm wondering if you're a real native? I'm a disabled veteran and probably old enough to be your grandfather. It's pretty clear to me why you don't respect your own people, you don't respect other people period. _____________ To others who insist this is a non-issue because they don't feel strongly about it: Racism and Mental Health Racial slurs, which are a particularly aggressive form of racial discrimination, can lead to anxiety, depression and increased stress. A minority who works in an environment where racial insults are a regular part of life will experience a damaging cumulative effect over time, which can lead to chronic stress. Racism and Physical Health According to one study, the stress resulting from racial slurs and other forms of discrimination builds up over time and can actually lead to heart disease. This Health Journal sponsored study focused on black women who listed racism as a stressor in their lives. The study showed that these women were more likely to develop plaque in the carotid arteries, an early sign of heart disease. Connecting racism and stress is significant since in general, blacks have a greater incidence of dying from heart disease, hypertension or stroke than any other racial group, regardless of income. Racial Bullying in Schools Students who are targets for racial bullying at the hands of another student, or even a teacher, face a variety of damaging consequences. Just as with other types of bullying, these victims can suffer from lower self esteem, depression, avoiding school and a failure to graduate. They also have a higher risk of suicide. Types of racial bullying that can happen in schools include name calling, jokes, badges or shirts with discriminatory messages, or even calling up websites that are negative in tone toward a racial minority. Read more: http://www.ehow.com/info_8440387_effects-racial-slurs.html#ixzz31EnuaM9e _______________ One NDN does NOT speak for all NDNs, but at least my words don't spawn from apathy or love of football.

Kat Munro
Kat Munro
Submitted by Kat Munro on
This ongoing thing is so ridiculous. Hasn't any one taken the time to do any research on the reason the name of this team is Redskins? Well, since it is apparent that no has here is a bit of information: The team changed its original name — the Boston Braves — to the Boston Redskins in 1933 to honor its coach, William “Lone Star” Dietz ...who was a member of the Sioux tribe. So, the people who continue this idiocy are simple showing how ignorant they are.

jsb125's picture
jsb125
Submitted by jsb125 on
So how do you reconcile with this Navajo school? "Red Mesa High, and it’s 100% Native American student body, proudly embrace the name of its mascot — the Redskins, and think those who say it is a racial slur are crazy"
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