American Indians' Views of the Redskins:

I tend to largely agree with Jonathan Adler's post on this; but I thought that I'd add some data, for whatever it's worth (I realize that different people have different views of how relevant or dispositive such data is):

1. A 2002 Sports Illustrated survey reports:

Asked if they were offended by the name Redskins, 75% of Native American respondents in SI's poll said they were not, and even on reservations, where Native American culture and influence are perhaps felt most intensely, 62% said they weren't offended. Overall, 69% of Native American respondents--and 57% of those living on reservations--feel it's O.K. for the Washington Redskins to continue using the name. "I like the name Redskins," says Mark Timentwa, 50, a member of the Colville Confederated Tribes in Washington State who lives on the tribes' reservation. "A few elders find it offensive, but my mother loves the Redskins."

2. The Annenberg Public Policy Center National Annenberg Election Survey 2004 (conducted in 2003-04), reports:

Most American Indians say that calling Washington's professional football team the "Redskins" does not bother them, the University of Pennsylvania's National Annenberg Election Survey shows.

Ninety percent of Indians took that position, while 9 percent said they found the name "offensive." One percent had no answer. The margin of sampling error for those findings was plus or minus two percentage points.

Because they make up a very small proportion of the total population, the responses of 768 people who said they were Indians or Native Americans were collected over a very long period of polling, from October 7, 2003 through September 20, 2004. They included Indians from every state except Alaska and Hawaii, where the Annenberg survey does not interview. The question that was put to them was "The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive or doesn't it bother you?"

3. There are obvious problems with polling American Indians -- the difficulty of getting reliable data from such a small group (which the Annenberg pollsters solved by asking a vast number of people, and which the Sports Illustrated pollsters solved by oversampling in census tracts which have a high fraction of American Indians, and then weighing the responses accordingly), the uncertainties about who really is an American Indian, the danger of undersampling Indians who are too poor to have telephones or alienated enough from white culture that they want little to do with pollsters, and so on. Nonetheless, while this may not be perfect data, it's the best data that I've seen, and it's certainly better than people's perceptions of what Indians think, which are of course prone to much more serious problems of representativeness (since such perceptions may be heavily skewed by one's own preconceptions, by one's circle of friends, or by the tendency to hear more from activists -- in any group -- than from rank and file members).

4. Finally, while I'd have thought that most Indians would indeed be offended by the term "Redskins," given that it has often been used as a pejorative, the results that the surveys report are not at all implausible: Given that naming a team after some person or group is usually a sign of respect -- one would rarely name a team after something that one thinks is weak or contemptible (the U.C. Santa Cruz Banana Slugs are a rare and facetious exception) -- it seems quite reasonable that many Indians would focus on that more than they would on disrespectful uses of the same term in other contexts.

Related Posts (on one page):

  1. American Indians' Views of the Redskins:
  2. Hail to the Redskin Potatoes:
Attorney SF (mail):
Does the racial status of those who are offended matter? I'm white, but I find the name Redskins offensive, just as I would be if my beloved Seattle Seahawks renamed themselves the Seattle Sambos. Plus, as Gregg Easterbrook has long suggested, the Washington team could rename itself using a cool tribal name from the local area.
9.11.2006 4:23pm
Obviously, a great federal effort to instill ethnic pride in Native Americans is urgently needed. Let the wellsprings of the great deep burst forth and the floodgates of the heavens open!
9.11.2006 4:23pm
John T (mail):
Does the racial status of those who are offended matter?

It matters to the extent that many people are bothered only if the people who the nickname generally refers to are offended. I could find "Fighting Irish" offensive, because it plays into stereotypes of the Irish as overly aggressive and prone to fight. Indeed, the nickname was bestowed upon Notre Dame by the national press because of exactly those stereotypes. However, the Irish and Notre Dame fans tend to not be offended by the nickname.

And of course then there are other controversies, like the Eskimo one. "Eskimo" refers to a group of languages or a group of people, of which the Inuit is one. The Inuit have recently decided (at least in Canada) that they dislike the term Eskimo and wish to be called Inuit. Other Eskimo language groups/people include the Inupiak and the Yup'ik. The Yup'ik have no issue with being called Eskimo or Yupik Eskimos. They really hate being called Inuit, though.

Well-meaning people try to say, "well, you shouldn't say Eskimo, you should say Inuit." The problem is that they aren't synonyms. It's like saying "You shouldn't say Oriential, you should say Chinese." It's complicated, because there's no term for all the peoples collectively that all are happy with, and downgrading and marginalizing the Yup'ik and Inupiak isn't really right either.
9.11.2006 4:42pm
So, if only 4 out of 10 students in my class would be offended if I called them a name, should I not worry?
9.11.2006 4:42pm
William Spieler (mail) (www):
I don't see why the only opinions that count as to the offensiveness of the name are those to whom the name refers, at least not as a rule of thumb.

See, I suppose, for an example, the name change of another Washington team, the Bullets.

I don't see why feelings of discomfort, even from someone from a majority/privileged/whatever class, over using what certainly was (and possibly is still today) an epithet shouldn't be given at least some weight.

I'm not saying that you necessarily dispute that, only that I think that discussing solely whether American Indians are offended over the name should lead to a name change is missing part of the picture.
9.11.2006 4:42pm
pp (mail):
Does the racial status of those offended matter?
Not if your the fighting irish.
9.11.2006 4:48pm
Charlie (Colorado) (mail):
Look, I'm *one* of those redskins. The indians, not the football players. I'm also a member of the Red Tailed Hawk clan, a Raven.

We don't name our clans and totem animals because we think it insults them. Names like "redskin" and "brave" and "seminoles" are chosen for teams because it represents bravery, determiniation, fighting spirit. What's to complain about?

AttorneySF, you can be offended by anything that pleases you, but considering that these names generally don't offend *us*, it seems excessively hypersensitive.
9.11.2006 4:54pm
pp (mail):
Since someone beat me to the Fighting Irish....
What about yankee? It is term of derision in the south, somewhat ambiguous in intent in england, and a label of pride in the Northeast.
9.11.2006 4:54pm
I suppose they might object to the Washington Scalpers, though. It might lead to their being confused with politicians.
9.11.2006 5:06pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
Or with ticket vendors.
9.11.2006 5:19pm
Clayton E. Cramer (mail) (www):

one would rarely name a team after something that one thinks is weak or contemptible (the U.C. Santa Cruz Banana Slugs are a rare and facetious exception)
What's contemptible about a bananna slug? Besides, that's just UC Santa Cruz showing how unseriously they take college sports--one of the few things that I can think of concerning that countercultural university that I can respect.
9.11.2006 5:26pm
I second Charlie's view. I too, am part Indian, though Tarahumara, (they live in the Copper Canyon region of northern Mexico). The bane of existance in my view are guilty white liberals like Attorney SF above. There are plenty of them here in Chicago, both attorneys and guilty white liberals. Ironically the left loves minority mascots who they can turn into good victims that can be trotted out to bleat the company line about how rotten the US is, etc. They just don't like the kind that they can't control like those of sports teams. By the way, Go Bears!!! (Sorry, I didn't mean to be speciesist!!)
9.11.2006 5:36pm
What about the USC Trojans, named (apparently deliberately, and realistically at the time) after one of history's great losers?
9.11.2006 5:37pm
sksmith (mail):
"There are obvious problems with polling American Indians -- the difficulty of getting reliable data from such a small group"

Is this true? I would think that either 1) it is actually easier to get reliable data from a small group (there are fewer of them, thus a smaller sample would accurately reflect their views), or that 2) the reliability of a sample isn't impacted by how large the group is, it is only impacted by how large the sample is. Any statisticians out there?

9.11.2006 6:07pm
sksmith (mail):
"I'm white, but I find the name Redskins offensive,"

Frankly, I'm offended by your offendedness (:)). A nickname, that is not intended as an insult, and not received as an insult, should nevertheless be changed because a third party sees how it could be insulting if either the speaker or recipient of the name interpreted it differently? I think you would have to defend your insultedness, and barring either intent of the speaker or perception by the receiver, I'm not sure how you would defend it.

9.11.2006 6:13pm
Justin (mail):
There is definitely a difference between a person of native american desecent whose been highly assimilated into caucasian society and one still living on a reservation. Having done nonprofit work while living on the Dine (Navajo) reservation, I can tell you that almost everyone who I asked about this found "Redskins" offensive - some found Braves offensive (and this was 5 years ago, so I'm wondering how much that is just the tomahawk chop), and very few found "seminoles" "illini" etc offensive.

Though this is not a scientific sample, and what you'd find on a native american community college may be very different from what you'd find in more representative areas of the reservation.

The real aspect of your post was your self-reasoning about how unreliable the polling data you provide is. Once you realized how unreliable it was, you probably owed it to Professor Adler not to push it as a force to disagree with. If the evidence that countered Professor Adler's point has no evidentiary value, I'm not sure what you accomplish by raising that evidence.
9.11.2006 6:20pm
frankcross (mail):
Let's start a move to make UCLA (or some other school) into the "Fighting Volokhs"
9.11.2006 6:22pm
Nony Mouse:
Just from my own point of view, when I heard that a group of kids (none of whom were pale of skin) decided to call themselves the Mighty Whities, I found it hilarious rather than offensive. Has society convinced me that my ethnic background is not as good as other cultures, or am I just undervaluing my heritage?
9.11.2006 6:23pm
Sanjay Krishnaswamy:
It was my understanding that the "banana slug" thing is not picking a creature one does not admire but rather because, um, its penis is as large as the thing itself. I could be wrong and Professor Volokh right of course, I don't know the history.
9.11.2006 6:31pm
Or how about the "other" USC team. South Carolina Gamecocks. It's either a term for a despicable "sport" of fighting roosters, or it is shortened to a word that can be viewed as vulgar. I've always wanted to see a USC vs. USC game: Trojans vs. Gamecocks.

The Portland (OR) Oregonian some years back banned "offensive sports teams names (such as Indians or Braves)" from the paper. However, they continued to use the local professional basketball team's name: Trailblazers. That name was meant to honor the Lewis &Clark expedition, something that might be more offensive to American Indians, considering the expedition was the first step in conquering many tribes.
9.11.2006 6:33pm
JohnO (mail):
The Redskins case is a tough one. On one hand, the nickname certainly seems at a minimum crude. But the Indian on the helmet is certainly depicted in a respectful manner. At the same time, it's worth noting that the Redskins were for many years the "South's" team before the advent of the AFL and expansion put teams in Miami, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Charlotte, etc. The Redskins also had a racist owner and were (I believe) the last NMFL team to integrate. The crudeness of the name migth be a vestige to a less sensitive time, but it also might reflect the southern fan base to which the Redskins were playing in their early years.
9.11.2006 7:44pm
Not tough at all.

Go to local rez. Call out, "What's up redskins?"

Run like hell.

I guarantee that it will be perceived as offensive, even to those here who say that they don't believe that it's offensive.
9.11.2006 8:00pm
Eugene Volokh (www):
I tried to deal with the question of reliability in item 4: I agree that the data may well be unreliable; but it seems to me more reliable than people's sense of what the views were of the (likely relatively few) people with whom they discussed the matter in one particular place. Imperfect data can be and should be beaten by better data; by anecdote, not so much.

By the way, while I can't speak to the details of differences between reservation and non-reservation Indians, the Annenberg survey does note a (small) tendency in favor of Redskins being seen as more offensive by the more educated and more prosperous, and less offensive by the less educated and less prosperous:
Thirteen percent of Indians with college degrees or more education said "Redskins" was offensive, compared to 9 percent of those with some college and 6 percent of those with a high school education or less.... Among Indians with household incomes of $75,000 or more, 12 percent found the name offensive, compared to 9 percent of those with incomes between $35,000 and $75,000 and 8 percent of those with incomes below $35,000.
So according to the survey, an Indian at a community college is not materially more likely to be offended by the name than an Indian who never went to college. (I wouldn't say is materially less likely, because I think the difference is not quite statistically significant.)
9.11.2006 8:39pm
David Walser:
Hey, the answer is obvious. It matters not that an overwhelming majority of Native Americans do not find the use of Redskins offensive. The point is that we, their moral betters, do find it offensive. Indeed, we are embarrassed for them. Their lack of offense is just one more data point demonstrating they need us to take care of them. The poor creatures don't even know when they are being made an object of sport. We cringe at their lack of awareness.

We need to force the NFL to adopt the same enlightened policy as the NCAA that requires teams to not use these offensive names. Except, the NFL policy needs to go farther: We need to get rid of not just the name Redskins. We need to get rid of the Cowboys, Vikings, Raiders, Buccaneers, Giants, etc. All these names are offensive to some group or another and should be banned. Rather than allow these teams to choose a new name that some future generation will find offensive, we should insist that the teams be called by the name of the city where they play, such as the "Irving, Texas, Professional Football Team (Go ITPFT!)." This will prevent the unjustified hurt that would otherwise result when some realize that they've failed to take proper offense at an obviously offensive team name.
9.11.2006 8:56pm
Ken Arrodee:
Having done nonprofit work while living on the Dine (Navajo) reservation, I can tell you that almost everyone who I asked about this found "Redskins" offensive

But you didn't take a representative sample of Indians in general. You took a sample of Indians who are all in one place. It wouldn't be unusual for such a sample to have opinions different from the population at large.
9.11.2006 9:05pm
David Walser: your arrogance and insensitivity to those who are geographically oppressed seems to know no bounds. What about the poor people of Euless,Tx, just to the west but not quite part of Irving,TX and longing, even thought they may not know it, to be part of Irving,Tx and the greater glory that would be the Irving-Euless,TX Professional Football Team (IEPFT)? You would deliberately exclude them with your naming sceme would you not? No doubt deliberately I might add. You sir are nothing more than a geographicist!!!
9.11.2006 9:29pm
Jed Adam:
This is concededly tangential to the main controversy, but if the purpose of this study was to survey public opinion without influencing it, surely there was a crisper way of phrasing the question than ". . . do you find that name offensive or doesn't it bother you?" If the intent of using the "do or don't" construction was to put both possibilities on a level plane, I think this aim was frustrated because whereas the former part of the question ("do you find that name offensive") seems relatively neutral, the latter part ("doesn't it bother you?") suggests an expectation that the interviewee would be bothered. I'm reluctant to call it a leading question, though, since most of the respondents obviously weren't led in that direction. Do you agree with me or don't you think so? :-)
9.11.2006 9:46pm
David Walser:
BT: David Walser: your arrogance and insensitivity to those who are geographically oppressed seems to know no bounds.

BT, since you comment on my arrogance and insensitivity, I can only assume we've met. My arrogance and insensitivity are legendary, often referred to as my groundless arrogance and indurate insensitivity. (Two of my better qualities.) Wanting to live up to this fame, I am sorely tempted to say something crass about Euless, such as "Euless? Didn't Texas revoke its charter for lack of interest?" Having lived in the Metroplex for eight glorious years, I know Euless too well to make any such remark. The "Pokes" will be the EPFT in our home from now on.
9.11.2006 9:51pm
Truth Seeker:
What about the USC Trojans, named (apparently deliberately, and realistically at the time) after one of history's great losers?

You mean they weren't named after those life-saving protective devices???
9.11.2006 10:38pm
Steven Jens (mail) (www):
My brother was once on an intramural basketball team called the Little Fuzzy Bunnies. I don't think that was meant to be offensive, but I'm not sure it was meant as a tribute to little fuzzy bunnies.

I do think most nicknames are supposed to be groups that the teams want to associate themselves with. That would make sense, since they are, in fact, associating themselves with those groups. You see this with little kids, too: if a group of kids are out playing football, and one of them says, "I'm Brett Favre", he's not trying to explain the interception he's about to throw. Rather, he's living out his fantasy.

By the way, the Little Fuzzy Bunnies did quite well in their league. Also, I'm a Packers' fan and I love Brett Favre, but ball control has never been his forte.
9.11.2006 10:40pm
James Ellis (mail):
I simply cannot believe that David Walser can seriously advocate using the term "football" in names for those franchises. As a lifelong player, referee, World Cup fan and lover of the one true game that deserves that moniker, I am deeply offended. I can only conclude that his suggestion was made in error or in jest.

The NFL teams should be designated in numerical order, from . to .---- (binary code, using dots and dashes), with the order to be established through a random drawing of lots.
9.11.2006 10:40pm
Steven Jens (mail) (www):
I also meant to agree with Messers Volokh and Adler on sports names generally and the Redskins as an exception, but I thank Professor Volokh for his data, which tempers my view somewhat.
9.11.2006 10:42pm
Waldensian (mail):
In general I think the hand-wringing over team names is largely silly. But I still think there is a problem out there. The "making something a mascot connotes respect" theory faces a challenge in the form of the Cleveland Indians logo. I'm still trying to figure out how this is a "respectful" portrayal of Indians. No doubt somebody will fill me in.
9.11.2006 11:22pm
James Kabala (mail):
The Trojans lost, but have generally been respected as having put up a good fight, and in many literary works (Euripides's TROJAN WOMEN, Virgil's AENEID, medieval romances such as Chaucer's TROILUS AND CRISEYDE, Dante's INFERNO, etc.) have gotten more respectful press than the victorious Achaens.
9.11.2006 11:40pm
Justin (mail):
EV, you completely missed the key point in my post - that the difference is reservation vs nonreservation, to put it bluntly. And if there's no difference between educated and noneducated Native Americans as a general rule, that just validates my own experience that Native Americans who are attached to their culture - still living on the reservation - would find this more offensive.

Of course, Annenberg doesn't figure the Dine into this at all - most Dine live in such poverty that they only have one or two phones per village - living in huts that lack electricity or running water (or, this is important for this particular subject, telephones or television), which is available only via a "community center"
9.11.2006 11:55pm
Justin (mail):
ken, I realize the point - though the larger point I was making was that the two surveys, particularly the Annendale survey, suffer from equally problematic flaws.
9.11.2006 11:57pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
that just validates my own experience that Native Americans who are attached to their culture - still living on the reservation - would find this more offensive.
I wonder whether Indians who don't live on reservations would find it more offensive to hear the word "Redskins" or hear some parody of limousine liberalism decide that they're not "attached to their culture"?

Of course, Annenberg doesn't figure the Dine into this at all - most Dine live in such poverty that they only have one or two phones per village - living in huts that lack electricity or running water (or, this is important for this particular subject, telephones or television), which is available only via a "community center"
Well, if they "live in such poverty," then they probably have a lot better things to worry about than the name of a football team. (Besides, without television, they probably don't watch Redskins games very often, do they? So what's the big deal?)
9.12.2006 12:47am
triticale (mail) (www):
I did a post about this a few weeks back. Polling a sample of one, an Oneida coworker who grew up on what he calls "the rez". Such names are insulting to him only if the team is losing.

As for David Walser's "we, their moral betters, do find it offensive" that claim is more insulting than the team names.
9.12.2006 1:41am
Ilya Somin:
The real mystery about the Trojans is not why USC named its sports teams after them, but why a popular condom is so named. After all, the original Trojans let an enormous horse through their defenses, which led to the destruction of their city. That's not the kind of imagery I want my condom to be associated with. It doesn't say much for the condom's ability to prevent pregnancy or stop the spread of VDs:).
9.12.2006 1:42am
Jed Adam:
I still wonder how the wording of the question affected responses, since it seems somewhat unwieldy. From the prefatory "As a Native American," respondents may have inferred that they would be understood to be speaking in a particular capacity, or even as representatives of a larger group within society.
9.12.2006 2:23am
Jack Sullivan (mail):
For what it's worth, there's a Navajo high school where the sports teams are known as the Redskins. See (Red Mesa High School in Teec Nos Pos, AZ). In a similar vein, this listing of schools using Indian-associated team names in New Mexico,, neglects to mention that most of these schools are in communities with heavy, if not majority, Indian populations (Dulce, on Jicarilla Apache reservation; Jemez Pueblo, on Jemez Pueblo reservation; Shiprock, on Navajo reservation; Navajo, on Navajo reservation; Gallup, on edge of Navajo reservation with Indian plurality; Ruidoso, on edge of Mescalero Apache reservation; Cuba, on edge of Jicarilla Apache reservation). It doesn't answer the question at issue, but it's worth considering.
9.12.2006 2:44am
David Walser:
Triticale: As for David Walser's "we, their moral betters, do find it offensive" that claim is more insulting than the team names.

No insult intended. By amplification, I was attempting to satirize expressions such as the following: Does the racial status of those who are offended matter? I'm white, but I find the name Redskins offensive.... By using the phrase "their moral betters", I thought I had made the ironic intent obvious. Most likely just poor writing on my part.

Since the irony was not obvious, allow me to clarify: I don't consider myself part of any group that is morally superior to any other. Nor do I consider myself qualified to determine for the rest of society what terms are so morally offensive their use must be banned by sporting franchises. While I admit to lacking omniscience in this area, I'm not so humble as to forgo a deep mistrust of those who do feel qualified to set the standards the rest of us must follow.
9.12.2006 3:27am
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www): O'Rourke:

The Review maintains that Redskin cannot be a bigoted term because people don't name themselves after groups they don't like. Or, as I would put it, there are no sports teams called the Miami Spics, the New York Kikes, the Detroit N****rs, the L.A. Slopes, or the Dallas Drunk White Trash.

(Maybe I've been in Texas too long, but I've never heard "slopes" before, except in reference to geometry and skiing.)
9.12.2006 5:58am
I remember driving through Freeport, IL a number of years ago and seeing that their highschool's team name was The Freeport Pretzels. I wonder if one of their cheers was "Choke 'em Pretzels!!" Of course this was before bulimia was identified as a major behavioral disorder and they may have since changed it to be less offensive. Also for many years exciting Pekin, IL highschool team was named The Pekin Chinks. This was changed in the late 80s or so, due to complaints by Chinese-Americans over the offensive connotation of the word chink. To show the Justins of the world that I am not a complete Philistine, I think that this was a reasonable demand due to blaringly offensive nature of that word. I guess we will have to agree to disagree on whether or not redskin, or Indian, etc, falls into that same category.
9.12.2006 9:57am
sksmith (mail):
That's nothing. There is still, in Omaha Nebraska, a highschool with the mascot of the Bunny (The Benson High Bunnies). It probably isn't an insult to rabbits, but rather to the students and fans of the school.

9.12.2006 10:29am
Evelyn Blaine (mail):
I don't have strong views on whether or not the Washington team should change their name, but it seems odd to me that one would think the name Redskins less offensive because it plays on images that involve a kind of superficial admiration. Many virulent racial or ethnic stereotypes have a surface gloss of fear or even paranoid awe, but are no less insulting for that. Think, e.g., of the tropes of Jews as hyperintelligent masterminds ruling the world, blacks as ultra-virile and sexually irresistable, Asians as preternaturally stoic and self-sacrificing. Surely, if there were sports teams called the Elders of Zion, the Jungle Studs, or the Banzai Warriors, most people wouldn't find those names less offensive merely because they didn't portray the groups in question as "weak or contemptible."

Let me emphasize that I'm not suggesting that Native Americans who aren't offended by the term "Redskins" are doing anything wrong, or are examples of internalized racism, or are "less authentic", etc., etc. I'm only saying that I think the "not weak or contemptible" theory may be dubious as an explanation of why some names cause more offense than others.
9.12.2006 2:04pm
markm (mail):
"The real mystery about the Trojans is not why USC named its sports teams after them, but why a popular condom is so named." I suppose that, back when people were supposed to grow up, get married, and start having children long before they reached 30, 10 years of protection seemed ample.
9.12.2006 3:10pm
I've always been curious if the NHL has faced similar controversy with the Canucks. My dictionary describes it as "often offensive," but the city of Vancouver seems to be ok with it.

I am also amused to note that the organization that did the polling is based at a school which uses an entire religion as a mascot ("Kill 'em Quakers!" As we used to say).
9.12.2006 3:20pm
Justin (mail):
Sure, David - because the Dine are so poor, they've got other things to worry about and all, then they're status as people are just too ephermal and unimportant for us to care about.

Yea, that's the spirit.
9.12.2006 4:25pm
Attorney SF (mail):
I've never been called a "guilty white liberal" before -- though admittedly, the name "Attorney SF" connotates a certain ACLU-loving wishi-washiness. I like the name so much, I just renamed my fantasy team.

Professor Volokh's post cited data that suggests many American Indians alive today are not bothered by the name "Washington Redskins." As one of the commenters rightly points out, this data is useful if your decision to be offended by a potentially-racist moniker is based on whether members of the group are, in fact, offended by the potentially racist moniker. And I grant there are many people who fall into this "I will be offended if they are" group.

But that's not the basis of why I dislike the name of the Redskins. I don't like it because it's *racial* slur. As someone who dislikes all forms of race-based identification and classification -- hence my opposition to affirmative action in all forms (still a guilty white liberal?) -- using an outdated term like "Redskins" reinforces, ever so subtly, the notion that native Americans are "red," and that color is important to classifying Americans. The fact that it was once used to disparage native people just adds to the odious quality of the name.

This isn't an issue that keeps me up at night, and I understand fans of "the 'Skins" feel a deep allegiance to their team and its name. That's why I second Gregg Easterbrook's great idea to rename the team after a local tribe -- seems to me that changing the name is relatively costless, and could even be an improvement.

By the way, the mockumentary movie "The Confederate States of America" has some great-albeit-squeamish commercials updating products that were really sold in the 1800s and early 1900s, such as "Nigger Hair Cigarettes" and "Aunt Jemima" syrup.
9.12.2006 5:02pm
I have to admit Attorney SF that remaming your fantasy team the "guilty white liberals" is pretty funny. Kudos. As for my original post naming you, yeah I was a little overboard. My bad. But I have to admit, I have met many folks who, atleast in my opinion, would fall into that category. This is completely unrelated, once again, Go Bears!!!
9.12.2006 6:06pm
Alan K. Henderson (mail) (www):
It's hard to come up with a true parallel to "Redskin" because its history is unique. The connotation of the word changed as American attitudes toward American Indians changed, as illustrated by this bit of history:

The name "Redskins" would later be used for a NFL football team. The team was originally known as the Boston Braves, but changed to the Boston Redskins when they left Braves field for Fenway Park. The name "Redskins" was chosen to honor the team's coach, William "Lone Star" Dietz, whose mother was Sioux.

Nobody calls American Indians "redskins" anymore; the word fell into disuse - except as a name for sports teams.
9.12.2006 6:36pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
As 1/8 Indian, I vote for the name.
9.12.2006 7:06pm
For what it's worth, students at UCSC don't think the Banana Slugs are weak and a caricature of a mascot. Students voted for the name because banana slugs are native to the forest around the school, they are hermaphroditic and have huge penises, and the logo of a slug doing different activities is silly and cute.
9.12.2006 8:31pm
Bleepless (mail):
A few years back, there was a piece in the American Historical Review on how Indians referred to themselves and each other as Redskins.
9.13.2006 12:45am
CrimsonToastThrower (mail):
MKS beat me to it, but I was surprised to see that nobody had pointed out that the "Fightin' Quakers" is the mascot of Penn (and, so, Annenberg, c.f. Annendale as someone wrote before??). Slugs be damned.

I'm sure some (i.e., not none) Quakers would be upset about it, but, seriously, what are they gonna do? Leave Lancaster to invade West Philly? Picking your mascots based upon pacifists and then attributing violent characteristics to them seems to be the most innovatively uncontroversial mascot. Anyone in favor of the Duke's "Deadly Decapitating David Dellingers"? Or the "Brazenly Beatdown Buddhists"?
9.13.2006 1:21am