If Native Americans Aren’t Offended by ‘Redskins,’ Why Are the Sports Media?

by Greg Pollowitz

A great column by ESPN’s Rick Reilly:

I guess this is where I’m supposed to fall in line and do what every other American sports writer is doing. I’m supposed to swear I won’t ever write the words “Washington Redskins” anymore because it’s racist and offensive and a slap in the face to all Native Americans who ever lived. Maybe it is.

I just don’t quite know how to tell my father-in-law, a Blackfeet Indian. He owns a steak restaurant on the reservation near Browning, Mont. He has a hard time seeing the slap-in-the-face part.

“The whole issue is so silly to me,” says Bob Burns, my wife’s father and a bundle holder in the Blackfeet tribe. “The name just doesn’t bother me much. It’s an issue that shouldn’t be an issue, not with all the problems we’ve got in this country.”

And I definitely don’t know how I’ll tell the athletes at Wellpinit (Wash.) High School — where the student body is 91.2 percent Native American — that the “Redskins” name they wear proudly across their chests is insulting them. Because they have no idea.

“I’ve talked to our students, our parents and our community about this and nobody finds any offense at all in it,” says Tim Ames, the superintendent of Wellpinit schools. “‘Redskins’ is not an insult to our kids. ‘Wagon burners’ is an insult. ‘Prairie n—–s’ is an insult. Those are very upsetting to our kids. But ‘Redskins’ is an honorable name we wear with pride. … In fact, I’d like to see somebody come up here and try to change it.”

Boy, you try to help some people …

And it’s not going to be easy telling the Kingston (Okla.) High School (57.7 percent Native American) Redskins that the name they’ve worn on their uniforms for 104 years has been a joke on them this whole time. Because they wear it with honor.

“We have two great tribes here,” says Kingston assistant school superintendent Ron Whipkey, “the Chicasaw and the Choctaw. And not one member of those tribes has ever come to me or our school with a complaint. It is a prideful thing to them.”

“It’s a name that honors the people,” says Kingston English teacher Brett Hayes, who is Choctaw. “The word ‘Oklahoma’ itself is Choctaw for ‘red people.’ The students here don’t want it changed. To them, it seems like it’s just people who have no connection with the Native American culture, people out there trying to draw attention to themselves.

“My kids are really afraid we’re going to lose the Redskin name. They say to me, ‘They’re not going to take it from us, are they, Dad?’”

Too late. White America has spoken. You aren’t offended, so we’ll be offended for you.

The rest here. Of note, Reilly’s father-in-law is offended by the Kansas City Chiefs, for example:

“You see some little guy wearing a headdress made of chicken feathers,” he says, “painting his face up, making a mockery of us. I hate that. Those are things you earn.”

Over to you Roger Gooddell. Time to rename the Chiefs?