5 Reasons NCAI’s Report Says Redskins Is a ‘Racist and Ugly’ Word


This week, the National Congress of American Indians released a 29 page report detailing why the Washington Redskins team name has an “ugly and racist legacy.”

The report, titled, “Ending the Legacy of Racism in Sports & the Era of Harmful ‘Indian’ Sports Mascots” and calls on the NFL, MLB, NHL, other professional sports leagues, and all associated businesses to end the era of harmful ‘Indian’ mascots.

Here are five things you may not know about the 'R’ word’s offensive history.

Stereotypical image from "Redskin Blues," Walter O. Gutlohn’s 1932 animated short. (YouTube)

1.   In 1932, Walter O. Gutlohn’s animated cartoon short of Tom and Jerry titled Redskin Blues tells the story of the main characters being attacked by stereotypical 'savage' Indians, only to be rescued by the US Army. As NPR reported on the context of the team name in relation to this cartoon, “Just a year after that stereotype-laden Tom and Jerry cartoon was released, Boston Braves owner George Preston Marshall decided in 1933 to change the franchise's name from the Braves (another name with a racial history) to the Redskins.”

See video here

2.   According to the NCAI's report, Marshall was well known for requiring the coach William Henry 'Lone Star' Dietz and players “to wear Indian feathers and put on war paint before home games” and Cliff Battles, a non-Native member of the team, said in an interview in Showdown: JFK and the Integration of the Washington Redskins, by Thomas G. Smith,  in the 30’s, players would do so and “do a little Indian dance to entertain the paying customers. None of us liked that very much…it was embarrassing.”

Cliff Battles, left, Wayne Millner, and Sammy Baugh, in the locker room after a win over the Chicago Bears in the National Football League Championship game.  (AP Images)


3.   According to the report, in 1963 – four years before the Washington franchise first filed for trademark protection – the National Indian Youth Council was formed and began working on campuses, most notably the University of Oklahoma, to eliminate its mascot, 'Little Red,' and always made the case about the worst 'Indian' reference, the one in the nation’s capital, the Red*kins. In 1968, – just one year after Pro-Football gained its first license for the “Red*kins” mark – the Native American community commenced a broad-scale effort to eradicate the use of all 'Native' names and symbols. In 1972, representatives of NCAI, the American Indian Press Association, the American Indian Movement, and others reached out directly to the team owner to request that the franchise change its name. And since that time there have been substantial efforts to protest the name and call for the name change.

4.   The trademark Redskins was declared harmful by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, Redskins is a pejorative term for Native Americans and is a registered trademark that disparages an entire group and perpetuates a centuries old stereotype. The logo and term Redskins should never have been registered as a federally protected trademark, according to the report.


5.   The report also says that, "to many Native Americans, the term 'Redskins' is associated with the barbaric practice of scalping. The record in this case is replete with evidence of bounty proclamations issued by the colonies and companies. These proclamations demonstrate that the term 'Redsk*ns' had its origins in the commodification of Indian skins and body parts; these 'Redsk*ns' were required as proof of Indian kill in order for bounty hunters to receive payment..."






NdN Giver's picture
NdN Giver
Submitted by NdN Giver on

Seems to me like the Natives raising a fuss about this issue are Urban NdNs who rarely hit up the Rez and Blue-Eyed NdNs whose blood is do diluted their lucky if a pinky toe is Native.. I know plenty of Rez NdNs who are big fans of the 'Skins..

Alexander Montalvo's picture
Alexander Montalvo
Submitted by Alexander Montalvo on

If you dig deeper into history the term ,redskin, was made by the Spanish conquistadors who observed the red skintone of the indigenous people. The observation was most noticeable during the spring time. I think that this issue is being put way out of proportion just as the "Frito Bandito" chips and "The Black Sambo" diners were. I also think that there are those that deliberately stir up issues such as these and use them as divisive instruments among the dispossessed peoples of the United States. My perspective on this matter will no doubt be ill received. Nevertheless, I perceive the emblem of the Washington Redskins as neither cartoonish nor degrading. In fact, it is noble in stature.

Ron Slowey's picture
Ron Slowey
Submitted by Ron Slowey on

I am totally against the names that pro teams and college sports teams use that are demeaning to our people. They say that they are showing us respect and flattery, how is it flattering to dress up with with chicken feather headdress's and act stupid and do the tomahawk chop. Come on America, when will you ever grow up? This is a serious insult to our people. When racist slurs are made against other people in this nation there is always an uproar. Thankyou.

Mark Cetan Corwin's picture
Mark Cetan Corwin
Submitted by Mark Cetan Corwin on

#5 is really right The others that invaded our land started Full scalps to get their bounty but they started scalping anyone with dark hair so the gov't said you have to bring entire skins to gather your money so the name Redskins became known. same as the Buffalo and anything to do away with our people. So thank about it

Mark Cetan Corwin's picture
Mark Cetan Corwin
Submitted by Mark Cetan Corwin on

#5 is really right The others that invaded our land started Full scalps to get their bounty but they started scalping anyone with dark hair so the gov't said you have to bring entire skins to gather your money so the name Redskins became known. same as the Buffalo and anything to do away with our people. So thank about it

Sylvia Williams's picture
Sylvia Williams
Submitted by Sylvia Williams on

I bet you a million dollars that if you hadn't been treated so badly by them (just because they had guns) in other ways that this would be considered a feather in your caps. It's probably hard to be objective about it. Anyway, there are more important things on your agenda than to worry about names. Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. White men can be very paranoid and insecure. They don't know how to have fun. They don't know how to dance and cut up. They like to kill and blame others because they don't know how to express their emotions and they get pent up. They are very jealous of you all, that's all. You will never get me to retract this statement. They want to be like you. How about the saying, "It takes an Indian to catch an Indian"? There are so many things that are way more important than this issue. What about how they are ruining the earth? If you really want to do something about it you should make teams called Honky and Cracker. In fact I will be glad to coach you how to play Pococircle (Pocahontas Circle) if you take those names. Come on, life is too short. We need to save the earth. Come on!!!!! Let's challenge them to a dance contest and then work our way up the ladder to serious issues about uranium mining and such. They don't have any rhythm because over generations its been bred out of them so they try to make fun of others to make up for their own inadequacies. Don't let them take you to a shallow place. You are bigger than that.

Tim Thompson's picture
Tim Thompson
Submitted by Tim Thompson on

I think some times we take things way to personnel,I am white and I am amazed how many different racial groups can get all kinds of benefits just because of who they are but life is life and we must just not take things so personal. Choose your battles wisely............

Gary 's picture
Submitted by Gary on

It's racist, and needs to be changed. It could easily be changed to reflect the current area it represents. ie--D.C. Diplomats; Washington Whiz; there are a lot of names that can safely be changed to that are not offensive.


Read more