"Chief Zee," D.C.'s unofficial mascot, supports the derogatory name Redskins. Does anyone else?

Does Anyone Support D.C.'s NFL Team Using the Name Redskins? ESPN's 'Outside the Lines' Struggles to Find a Supporter


ESPN's Emmy Award-winning investigative news program Outside the Lines recently examined the Redskins naming controversy. Featured guests were Notah Begay, Navajo/San Felipe/Isleta, and and journalist Mark Trahant,  Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.

The ESPN episode (titled "Redskins Nickname Controversy") is the latest examination of the swelling opposition to the use of the derogatory term Redskins by owner Daniel Snyder's NFL team.  Interestingly, as host Bob Ley wryly noted, ESPN had extreme difficulty finding anyone to come on air in support of the use of the name Redskins. But they did find one: Ray Smith of SonofWashington.com. Here's video of his segment.

Is Smith's argument convincing? Let us know what you think in the Comments section below.

You can listen to a podcast of the entire episode by clicking here.

Here's a transcript of the show's intro:

Recently, at a daylong symposium on racist sports nicknames at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, the Washington Redskins nickname came under heavy criticism from many voices. Among the voices was Judith Bartnoff, a deputy presiding judge in District of Columbia Superior Court, who said “ I can only imagine what it would be like to be at a football game at FedEx Field in a crowd of close to 90,000, all screaming at the top of their lungs, when what they are screaming is a racial slur.”  Following the symposium, Redskins General Manager Bruce Allen said the team isn’t considering changing the nickname and added that it was “ludicrous” to imply that the franchise was trying to upset Native Americans.  Allen added that there was “nothing that we feel is offensive, and we’re proud of our history.“  Today on Outside the Lines, we discuss the controversy involving the Washington Redskins nickname.

Regular ICTMN contributor Trahant  is a writer, speaker and Twitter poet. He is a member of the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes and lives in Fort Hall, Idaho. Trahant’s recent book, The Last Great Battle of the Indian Wars, is the story of Sen. Henry Jackson and Forrest Gerard.

Four-time PGA Tour winner Begay is a TV analyst for NBC Sports and the Golf Channel. Through his foundation, the Notah Begay III Foundation, Begay efforts  to improve the health of Native American youth nationwide.

Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2013/02/22/notah-begay-mark-trahant-discuss-washington-redskins-naming-issue-espns-outside-lines



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Daphne Clark's picture
Daphne Clark
Submitted by Daphne Clark on
What difference does it make. It's not offensive and if you think it is you are way too sensitive. There are far more pressing things going on in the world right now, even in Indian Country. Let's start with the centuries of oppression, muder, rape and the attempted Genocide of our people, lets right these wrongs first. Let's educate our children about our History and stop teaching them to sweat the small stuff. You don't hear the Scandinavian peoples from modern countries of Denmark, Norway and Sweden getting all in a tissie over the NFL team Minnesota Vikings. It's just a waste of time and energy that could be focused on much more important issues.

Judi Luna's picture
Judi Luna
Submitted by Judi Luna on
How about a tribute to both Natives and African Americans....After all, the NFL is populated with African American players, Coaches (not enough)...and instead of "Redskins" honor could be given to Native Americans too. "Buffalo Soldiers" would pay homage to both our African Americans and our Native Brothers and Sisters. I also feel that the name "Buffalo Soldier" would inspire all of our young people in America to look at the Rich History of the Buffalo Soldiers and how we are tied together.

dragonpie's picture
Submitted by dragonpie on
Daphne, I completely disagree. I agree with you that we shouldn't put all of our resources into fighting sports team names, but I think that you underestimate it's importance. Especially in the case of the Redskins which is a blatant and overt racial slur, it is important to challenge them, in part because it's very visible to most white Americans. It isn't about changing the name of a team or two, but fighting against the attitudes and the disregard for native people that allows for such names to exist and to be pervasive. If you are angered by the name, it isn't because you're "too sensitive", but because you see things like the willingness to name a team after a racial epithet as representing the larger problem of disregard for native people in general. The disregard of native people is what allowed the murder, rape and genocide to occur and continue. And team names are a very visible way in which it is showcased. That doesn't mean that other fights aren't valuable to fight, even more so, but I see the value in the "small stuff". As for the Vikings comparison, it is moot. Scandinavian people don't often identify as Vikings. They might see it as their ancestry, but it is a relic of their past which is why they wouldn't get offended. Also, generally, the NFL teams were named by people of European descent. If an Irish person wants to name their team the fighting Irish, that's fine, if a native person wants to name their team the Indians, Redskins or Braves, I wouldn't have a problem with that. But that's entirely different from people of European ancestry naming a team the Redskins or the Braves. If you don't get the difference, I don't know what to say. But generally, I think that fighting for the dismissal and disregard of native people in places where it is blatant and visible is something worth fighting for. Not more so than fighting against Snowbowl, or fighting against Uranium mining or fighting against the FBI system that allows rapists of native women to go un-prosecuted or problems with our "justice system" that allows things like Johnny Bonta to be beat, arrested and denied medical care. Personally, I think that the best bet is as many people fighting as many battles as possible because the problems are large scale and pervasive and it will take a lot of work to get through to people who are so thick that they don't understand why somebody would be bothered by a racial epithet as the name of their team.

John's picture
Submitted by John on
I am a fan and I would have gone on that show. Please, the media against Redskins is coming from people that eat from the trough of the Redskins. They are hypocrites. If D.C. is so racist, (due to the fact that it supports the name) why not leave the city and move to city that isn't racist.

Noel Day's picture
Noel Day
Submitted by Noel Day on
The point is to ALLOW the people themselves (in this case American Indians), to define themselves, and NOT to be defined, characterized, represented...by anyone or any group other than American Indians. So, unless you're an American Indian then your opinion is of little signifigance, and should have NO bearing on the outcome! Sorry if your ego is so large that you want to speak for others, its time to let everyone speak for themselves! Most Sincerely, Noel Day

pauwin2087333's picture
Submitted by pauwin2087333 on
The underlying symbol of the Redskin name is offensive to Indigenous people as it only contributes to the beliefs that go along with the culture that was created by the oppressors of this country they call America. Indigenous people have to live with this type of stereotyping and stigma. Non-natives do not I repeat DO NOT know what it is like to be an Indigenous person in this country. You can not defend a stigma if you have never experienced the stigma personally. You can say we are not trying to offend natives or that your too sensitive. Well, if the mount rush more was destroyed or the white house was painted black or red, after all it is only paint. It puts Indigenous people in the same old box which is labeled (Cowboy and Indian box) "The other". Until you know what it is like to be an Indigenous person in the United States your words really have no meaning to people who still suffer from Genocide and are waking up from a nightmare.

Butts Larue
Butts Larue
Submitted by Butts Larue on
The new argument seems to be that the first Redskins' owner was such a racist that of course the name must be incredibly racist. This is the weakest argument yet, why would some horrible racist name his beloved football team after a people against whom he was so racist? He wouldn't. Though some Indians do not see it as a tribute that is how it is meant. I for one do not want to eliminate all Indian references from our pop culture. We should look into forming a partnership with the team to bring about awareness and change to real issues and struggles facing our peoples today. Seems to me that the people who object to this that are actually of Indian descent are in the minority. We can turn this into positive instead of a negative. Most people do not think the term Redskins in negative so why should we try to make it so? We can make the word positive again and move forward instead of spinning our wheels and wasting time.

MJ Istaqa's picture
MJ Istaqa
Submitted by MJ Istaqa on
Would people protest over a team named the Nashville Niggers? Yes. Why does no one care about a term offensive to Native Americans?

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
Smith has a good point! Unfortunately, it's on top of his head. How is using a name that is derogatory to a group of people honoring them? Just because a bunch of overpaid athletes (many of whom are NOT good role models) use the name does NOT pay Native Americans respect in any way. If sports franchises REALLY want to show respect for using offensive names they should be willing to donate a percentage of each game played to Indian reservations all over the country. Let's see how long this "respect" will hold out.