Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder doesn’t speak to the media much, but when he did this time he made a very clear statement. When asked about whether he would change the name of the Washington Redskins he replied to USA Today Sports:
“We will never change the name of the team,” Snyder told USA TODAY Sports this week. “As a lifelong Redskins fan, and I think that the Redskins fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means, so we feel pretty fortunate to be just working on next season.”
Well, not so fast Dan. There are many who feel the name is a racial slur and consider it offensive. In fact there’s an ongoing federal trademark lawsuit about it.
So Mr. Snyder, what do you have to say about that?
“We’ll never change the name,” he said. “It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”
Amanda Blackhorse, who is Navajo and the named plaintiff in the trademark suit doesn’t agree and said that if she could talk to Snyder, she’d ask him if he’d call her “redskin” to her face.
In a very smart move, Snyder’s comment was no to address her, saying:
“I think the best way is to just not comment on that type of stuff,” Snyder said. “I don’t know her.”
I understand the sentiments of this case, and how a name with so much historic meaning and bad racial history can leave a sour taste in the mouths of so many Native Americans. According to Wikipedia the history and original use of the word is also debated:
The origin of the word “redskin” is debated. Some scholars say that the word was coined by early settlers in reference to the skin tone of Native Americans. Elizabeth Delacruz believes that “the term “redskins was originally used by white settlers as a way to count the number of Indian scalps collected by trappers and other Indian exterminators. However Smithsonian linguist Ives Goddard says the evidence to support such a claim is “unfounded” and further claims the term was first used in the 1800s.
The Washington Redskins were originally known as the Newark Tornadoes and then the Boston Braves. In 1933, co-owner George Preston Marshall changed the name to the Redskins; possibly in recognition of the then head coach Lone Star Dietz who claimed to be part Sioux. Dietz’s true heritage has been questioned by some scholars. The Washington Redskins name and logo, which is a picture of an Indian, was officially registered in 1967.
While the name may mean imply something positive for non Native Americans, perhaps we do have to be sensitive to those the name does offend. It can be argued that any stereotype, even intended or used in a positive manner can be harmful and/or have a negative effect.
Snyder seems adamant that he will never change the name, but if Snyder loses the federal case, he may not have a choice.
What do you think?
Your Jersey Girlfriend,