Nicholet Deschine

Daniel Snyder: Change the Name

Nicholet Deschine

Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington NFL team recently called on people to “focus on reality” and in discussing his Original Americans Foundation said “I think it tells you that we did our homework – unlike a lot of people.” Snyder further stated “We understand the issues out there, and we’re not an issue” referring to the NFL team’s name, the Redskins.

Daniel Snyder, exactly, who are these people who didn’t do their homework and what homework didn’t they do?

What you are stating is that I, as a Lakota and Diné woman, do not have the experience or knowledge to speak about the racism I have encountered that is a result of stereotypes, which your team’s name contributes towards.

What you are stating is that I and Native People don’t have the right to be a part of the conversation that involves our identity as indigenous people.

What you are stating is that Native People are incapable of identifying the issues that affect our own communities.

You have stated that people need to focus on reality.

Daniel Snyder. The reality is you continue to minimize the knowledge and experience that Native people have by inferring we don’t know what we are talking about and that we don’t know what issues our communities face. The reality is that Native people are the best source for identifying the issues that concern their own communities. One such person, Amanda Blackhorse, a Dine woman, is taking lead to void your team’s trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on behalf of countless others who identify racial slurs of Native people as contributing towards the societal issues our people face.

The reality is that racism exists. The reality is the term redskins perpetrates negative stereotypes, is demeaning to Native people’s cultures, and the continued use of the term is disrespectful and outdated. The continued use of caricatures and racial slurs of Native people undermine our unique, distinct cultures and identify. The reality is that a multitude of national organizations, such as the National Congress of American Indians and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, support you changing the team’s name.

There does need to be a focus on reality and this starts with you realizing the reality at hand is there is an increasing voice supporting you to change the name.

Nicholet Deschine, Hunkpapa Sioux/Diné, holds a Master of Social Work and is currently studying public administration. Nicholet is a member of the grassroots organization Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry.

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newworldman's picture
I am half-Native American and, living in Mississippi where racism has been a large part of the culture for centuries, have been called the name redskin many times in life by those who wished to insult me. I'll describe one instance. I was an architecture student at Mississippi State University in the late '70s. Having attended a junior college to take electives for my first year, followed by my attending summer school to take first-year design, I (along with about 15 other students) transferred into the established second year class at MSU. Entering as a stranger to the regular students, most of us new guys were readily accepted into the class within weeks, but a few regulars being real hardliners, were very reluctant to accept my presence there. One arrogant student in particular, a guy of Irish descent, went the first few months ignoring me...never uttered a word to me. That was fine with me. The class began preparing for a trip to Chicago to explore the city's architecture. As we were discussing the trip one day before a class, this student spoke his first words to me. In front of the entire class, he asked me, "What about you, redskin? Are you going to Chicago too?" I answered yes, I was. I didn't really know how to answer this redneck Irishman, for he had obviously meant to insult me, and in front of the entire class. I could have answered in a like manner with "Why yes, you mick, I am going." Of course, I would have been insulting about half the class with Irish ancestry. And It's not in my nature to racially insult others anyway. But evidently, it certainly was in his nature to racially insult me. I have never forgotten that insult, in the 30+ years since it occurred. That redneck is practicing architecture in Tupelo to this day. I don't know what I'd say to him if I ever saw him again, but rest assured, it wouldn't be anything nice. From my own personal negative experiences, I say, get rid of the name "Redskins." It only empowers non-Indians like that redneck to call us redskins, with no fear of repercussions. Next time someone like him calls me a redskin, the outcome will be a bit different, and someone might end up going to jail.
tmsyr11's picture
As this "31 flavor" approach is going, if not for the Washington Redskins Superbowl appearances in the 1980s, i.e. win and loss, I can only IMAGINE what I would have turned out to be in my career (instead of doing what I'm doing). There is a ton of stuff that goes on the Reservation today that never gets reported. But go figure the reports and view these bandwagon attempts to 'report'. Talking points are only cherry-picked and the rest gets thrown out. If the ICTMN offices were on the reservations instead of safety tucked away in an off-reservation town, city, municipality, then the reporting would be much more relevant to most (not all) indian people just trying to survive. If most of these romantic indian writers, renanassiance indian travelers, lived on the reservations today, they wouldn't be wasting time on irrevelant topics as a name or mascot. But instead, WE (not they, them, but ME as well!) get to dine out, get our trash/recycleables picked up, get to flush our toilets instead of going outside, get to take our vehicle to the shop instead of driving into town. I can call the City Police and they can arrive in 5-10 minutes). WE (I) left my reservation because I made the choice - I had to! As much as I am concerned about my parents/brothers/sisters/, THEY are not concerned over a name but rather in just trying to get by on their salaries, and unfortunately (sharing what is remaining with other relations and acquaintances that have given up already). I am only trying to help and assist where needed. If i had the luxury of time and a relaxed frame of mind of 'finally making it', then maybe the Redskin debate would be important. Much like my earlier elders and PASTED ON respected tribal clan members, there are more important issues that are relevant to today's events than a grandios REDSKIN Project that obviously belongs to somebody else - Political Special Interests Groups that have their own TV Cable Station.