Whitewashing Redskins Tour Gets Navajo Code Talkers Assoc. Endorsement

Gale Courey Toensing

Suzan Harjo wrote of the event: “The Redskins’ ‘honoring’ of Navajo code talkers consisted of four frail veterans standing in the end zone and receiving a round of applause. Three of the four Navajo elders wore Redskins jackets, with the new-clothes price tags still hanging at their wrists. These seniors probably thought this was another in a long line of recent recognitions of their WWII achievements some 70 years ago, rather than any implied endorsement of the team’s name.”

Related: Red*kins 'Honor' Codetalkers—How Low Will They Go?

On hearing about the Code Talkers endorsement of the Redskins, Harjo honed in on MacDonald’s involvement. “He has a long history of exploiting his people,” she said, “and I think this is an example of that.”


MacDonald has a simple explanation for the endorsement: he doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with the name, and he claims other Navajo feel the same way. “So far as we’re concerned, so far as people are concerned here at Navajo, redskins have always meant Native Americans or Indians to us – nothing more. So I don’t know who decided to make that a slur word or offensive. To us, redskins, whiteskins, blackskins, yellowskins, brownskins – we here on earth did not create the color of human skins; it was the Great Spirit that created us with different colors and we honor His creation and have no problem with anyone using those colors to identify the Lord’s creation.”

Asked if he’d mind if his grandchildren were called redskins, he said, “No! As a matter of fact we have schools right here on Navajo Nation – Red Mesa school – it’s a Navajo high school. The school [nickname] name is Redskins.”

He said he was not familiar with the origins of the name, or the 1755 Phips Proclamation in Maine that detailed the bounty prices the colonial government paid for Indian scalps, “but humans around the world have different colored skin – what’s wrong with calling them by the color of their skin?” he said.

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bullbear's picture
Submitted by bullbear on
This stinks of Old MacDonald up to his old tricks again. He is placed in a Navajo Code Talkers Association (NCTA) leadership capacity and slyly gets action passed by those whose ears he has bent. It doesn't take much to see that he is also contradicting himself. On one hand he is telling the press to pay more heed to unemployment, drugs and health needs of tribal nations, while on the other hand, he is pushing his own agenda and asking NCTA to endorse the Washington R-------s mascot. I think its time for NCTA to consider placing another of its members in the leadership role before Old MacDonald runs it into the ground which he already has a head start on doing. There are more pressing matters for the organization, such as, the realization of the Navajo Code Talkers Museum and Veterans Center on the 208-acres of donated land. What ever happened to this lofty goal? Isn't this much more important than voting on an issue that thousands, if not millions, of Native and non-Natives find highly offensive throughout history? If nothing else, "get your priorities straight, Old MacDonald!"

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Now the "Regressive" forces are relegating their attacks to character assassinations? What happen to the emphasis on keeping the Redskin (yes I said it) institution that has existed for 4 generations (20 x 4)? It appears for REGRESSION politics, as long as these "iconic elders" keep quiet and out of the limelight of racial agitation/racial-baiting politics, then they continue to be revered. Otherwise the guns of REGRESSION get turned on you and you become the enemy. Has it every occured to you the REGRESSIVE soldier that there are great many individuals - indian, native, first nations, indigenous, tribal…whatever - who have INDIVIDUAL rights and INDIVIDUAL opinions - who can think for themselves and don't believe in POLITICAL forces deciding what is 'right' and what 'is not right'? Why not carry out something = attacks more relevant like questioning the current Obama White House and their ineptness and/or lacking administration of American Indian affairs. What has become of Indian Today reports of the November Congress/Indian White House accomplishments? American Indians have been waiting since 2008 for something concrete to come out of this WHite House. Heck, the previous WHite House has done more for Indians than what is being done now.

Michael Madrid's picture
Michael Madrid
Submitted by Michael Madrid on
This is just another instance of getting NDNs to fight NDNs. It's an old trick and we should be used to it by now. The Apache scouts that worked for the U.S. government and assisted in catching Geronimo and his band were stripped of their titles and their weapons and thrown onto the prison train with the men they'd been tracking. This is no different and I really object to Snyder using our old, veterans against all NDNs. Let's face it most of these veterans don't really understand the controversy and conflicts behind what they're doing. I'm a disabled Viet-Era veteran myself and I know several WWII veterans. The fact is that most of them are old enough and feeble enough (and hard of hearing to boot) that they have some difficulty comprehending the intricacies of a devious deal like this. All they know is that they are being honored, and that is good enough for them. The problem is it's NOT good for everyone, and I'm certain they wouldn't cooperate if they knew the particulars.

walkingant's picture
Submitted by walkingant on
Everything you read, all articles on the net, show the background and character of this "MacDonald". From his history of abusing his position for personal gain to this staged support vote (only 7 in attendance). He is profiting from Dan Snyder and the Redskin Organization--is this not obvious?

cjpetoskey's picture
Submitted by cjpetoskey on
Okay, so let's say he didn't take, receive or obtain money or gifts from the "R", but he is not saying he did not receive such items from Dan Snyder or a respresenative. Semantics perhaps?

cjpetoskey's picture
Submitted by cjpetoskey on
When did this issue become political? Its about the children and the influence and long term effects it has on them. The the attempts of the owner of a franchise whom feels threaten at the prospect of a name change. Media is beginning to understand and are refusing to use the "R" word in their commentary and reporting. How long this term has been used is irrelevant. Akin to saying human slavery has been going on since forever, so it must be ok. Tactics from the good old boy network. A non-native telling native americans what is racial and what isn't. Desparately using the opinion of a few to add legitimacy to his use of the term. Again, a smoke screen to the real issue, our children. "R" is a derogative term. It places human beings in a lesser category no matter the political spin or semantic arguments crafted. Recognise the distraction, smoke-screens, attacks from the flanks, exploiting a peoples weaknesses. There is no prior history of this organizations gifting to native peoples. Especially in crisis, reservations without proper creature comforts and needs. Stepping up in support of sovereign issues or the irregularities in the system. Its a sports team. A people are not mascots especially when the name is derived from a stereo-typed ideaology.