Offended by the Redskins?: An Indian Country Twitter Poll

Offended by the Redskins?: An Indian Country Twitter Poll

Vincent Schilling

As some of you know, The Washington Post recently ran a story on Thursday about a poll of 504 people which indicated that 90% of Native Americans are not offended by the Washington Redskins name.

Shortly after the article, I tweeted the hashtag #IAmNativeIWasNotAsked, which trended on Thursday night.

(Don't have a Twitter account? Everyone is invited (even if you have answered the Twitter poll) to answer this survey of nine questions, which is identical to the Washington Post’s poll.)

In my career of approximately 12 years as a journalist, book author, speaker, author and now as Arts and Entertainment, Sports and Pow Wow’s editor for Indian Country Today Media Network, I am constantly hearing the voices in Indian Country.

In my experience over the past decade and more having attended pow wows, tribal gatherings, protests, political events, school events, visited reservations and more – and based on all those conversations, I don’t believe the Washington Post poll is an accurate reflection of Indian country.

It’s true that some Native people say they are not offended by the Redskins name, but in my experience, they are rare. I have also been told on numerous occasions where I was asked to appear on television, online or on national radio to discuss the Redskins, the organizers and producers had an extremely difficult time finding a Native person who approved of the Redskins name.

The Washington Post says they spoke to a random selection of 504 Native American people. In a country with 566 federally recognized reservations (not including the Pamunkey up for Federal and the multitude of State or unrecognized tribes) this roughly equates to less than one person per federally recognized tribe.

According to the Post’s numbers, available here interestingly, the percentages reflected in 2016 are identical to the poll numbers from the National Annenberg Election Survey from 2004.

A Twitter Poll

I know this is not “scientific,” or acceptable standards for a national poll, but a simple Twitter poll I created Thursday evening at 11:59 pm est generated 200 responses in just a few hours. As of Friday afternoon, 83% of those people say they are offended by the Redskins name.

If you have a Twitter account, please vote – and please share for others to vote.

Let’s show the world what Indian Country thinks.

And please consider using the #IAmNativeIWasNotAsked hashtag.   

Follow ICTMN's Sports, Arts and Entertainment and Pow Wows Editor Vincent Schilling on Twitter - @VinceSchilling

Note: Sonny Skyhawk is the primary contributor to Ask N NDN, Vincent Schilling will be contributing on an occasional basis.

Don't have a Twitter account? Everyone is invited (even if you have answered the Twitter poll) to answer this survey of nine questions, which is identical to the Washington Post’s poll.


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tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
"IF" you are, but what is to stop you "IF " you are not, can you still vote? How many times can you vote? What if you do not have a twitter account? The Washington Post Poll event is fact now….it occured - it happened! This is the same washington post that somehow (seemingly) contributed to the racial agitiation and overthrow of the Washington Redskins. The Washington Post Poll obviously speaks volumes more so than an obviously, biased twitter poll.

hesutu's picture
Submitted by hesutu on
Red skins (Peaux Rouges in French) was not originally considered derogatory and has been used by some indians for a couple centuries, along with red man, red children, and red people. It was a neutral term. I heard the term used in my own family on rare occasion up to about 20 years ago. Here is an article with extensive references documenting the history of the term: There are many examples of use there which clearly establish the neutral, even positive use, of the term by various indians from a number of different nations. A few years ago an indian activist began promoting a theory where she believed that redskins, which was not a term historically used by her nation as far as she knew, referred to the practice of scalping and was thus derogatory. This interpretation though is historically unfounded. Despite the historical reality, the idea that it was derogatory spread and the term began to be used less, particularly by those unsure or misinformed of its history. Was the term used in a derogatory or derisive sense at times in history? Yes. As was the term Indian, and even Native. In recent years the red has been dropped and many natives now call themselves skins informally and among themselves. In written communication NDN is often observed. I do not recommend though that skins or NDN be used by non-indians, at least without caution. I believe it would be considered problematic for example if someone changed a team name to say the Washington Skins. There is a similar history of the term squaw, which is an Algonquian word for woman, and comparable to the Spanish term Señorita. It was used by Algonquians neutrally and positively, and there are many historical instances of that documented. White settlers at Plymouth colony picked up the Algonquian use since Algonquian speakers were using it with them to refer to women, and over time whites used the term to refer to women of other tribes as well. Some well-intended activists started spreading the idea that it was a word referring to female reproductive organs and was a derisive term. This theory came from the observation that there is a word in Mohawk ojiskwa' which does mean vagina. It is a mistake though to think that squaw comes from the Mohawk, as Plymouth settlers were not in contact with Mohawks at the time the word began to be used by whites. Now, if even an Algonquian language speaker uses the term from his own language he is at risk of being criticized. In this case though, discarding the incorrect claims about vagina, it is reasonable to observe that indians whose nations speak languages in other language families would prefer not to be referred to using words from Algonquian, and the word should generally not be used. Ethnic mascots are clearly a type of stereotype and can not really be used in a neutral way by people outside the ethnic group. The issue of sports mascots in particular leads to games where every person there is white, and one side is calling for death or harm, or contempt towards the ethnic group the stereotype is meant to represent. All this said, Redskins is not offensive. The arguments that it was like the n word is simply incorrect. Redskins has been used by indians to refer to ourselves, and in the earliest usages we find, it was indians using the term, who preferred the term over "Indian". Many, but not all, of our native languages don't have a word that refers to all the peoples of turtle island collectively but excludes european invaders. Such a word is useful when speaking of issues that face indigenous peoples of the americas - such as our experiences of colonialism, racism by european invaders and genocide in all its forms. We don't have a single language among indigenous peoples of the americas which is shared by many tribal nations other than english and spanish. Since we are speaking to others when talking of such things a word is useful. One historical word is redskins and redman. It has fallen out of favor. Indians is understood and used. West Indian or Red Indian proves useful when traveling in asia and talking to people in India. White people are always telling me I have to call myself Native instead. They don't want me to use names I use or my family uses, they want me to do as they say and use Native because they say so. Some Indians, who were raised only around white people and who only use white ways of thinking, also repeat the white arguments. These advocates demand the right to use this term themselves in certain ways, as in "it looks like the natives are restless", where native means "uncivilized barbarian". If I agree to use their term, or just try it to move on and avoid useless terminology arguments, then they switch tactics and will say, "I am a native too - I was born here." I do not like this term and I am aggravated by the racists, control freaks, and authoritarians who continually demand the right to lecture me about Columbus, who they patronizingly explain to me as if I have never heard of, and what names I can use to describe our peoples. The goal here is to prevent discussion of issues of real imporance, by making everything about terminology that I am allowed to use for myself. White people love to control how other people describe themselves. We are meant to think of ourselves as part of the United States or Canada, as "Domestic Dependant Nations" with no true sovereignty. We are meant to think of their laws and traditions and religions as valid and our beliefs and ways as invalid, primitive and superstitious, while they eat crackers and declare it the flesh of their gods. People who want to lecture me about Columbus should read about Columbus and educate their own people about Columbus. I already know about him. I'll use redskins if people don't like Indians. Many indigenous youth now use the term Skins to refer collectively to all indigenous turtle islanders. I reserve and assert the right to this traditional and neutral name for our peoples. I reserve and assert the right to determine my own identity, and names I use, and for my family and nation to do so as well. The argument can be made against mascots, even whether or not they are obviously offensive, in practice they promote racist mentalities among those addicted to the ritualized violence performances (corporate competitive sports). It is not necessary to change history or to attack perfectly good terms in order to make the argument against mascots. Racial mascots are an abomination. That said the term and identity with redness is a historical one that originated with our nations. This is an absolute historical fact. Those claiming otherwise are either not aware of actual reality of our tribes or chose to attack indigenous concepts of identity for their own reasons. Not all indigenous nations of the americas identify with being red people and red skins and that is perfectly fine. There is nothing wrong with them. However, the attacks upon redness by many so-called indigenous media are acts of deep seated hatred and prejudice against fundamental aspects of identity that many of us hold. Most of those attacking our identity have their own reasons for doing so, it is not because of solidarity with indigenous identity or a hatred of racism. I am an indian. My parents are indians. My grandparents are indians. And on it goes, forever, to the beginning of time. Substitute "indians" for "natives" or "indigenous peoples of turtle island". That is fine. As is "red people", "reds", "redskins", etc. Various names throughout history we have and continue to use to think of ourselves, when thinking of our shared background as peoples and nations of the great turtle island rather than the more specific details of our individual national citizenship, and in contrast to the identities of the racist white supremacist european settlers that continue to oppress us. I am glad the creator made me a red man, a red person, and not a white person. It is a privilege. I am not in a state of monotheistic delusion. I do not crave genocide, oppression, or the enslavement of others. It is good to be a redskin, a red man, a red person, an indian. I am not ignorant. The facts of history remain, regardless of those who seek to change them through tactics such as the "Big Lie", where someone repeats a lie over and over until it becomes accepted as truth. Our ancestors know the truth. I know the truth. Others as well. Some are foolish and believe the lies of the white men, and believe the lies of the traitors who have aligned themselves with the white lies for their own personal advancement. I do feel bad for these people. The red path is a better one. It is more honest and more true. It is more real.