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Why Are We Changing Indian Names?

J. E. Whitney/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

They have been the Washington Redskins since 1932 and now there is once again a movement to change the National Football League’s team nickname because it is offensive to many Native Americans.

How many is many?

When I hear the name Redskins, I think of brave warriors who roamed the land years ago. I don’t consider it offensive at all.

As a matter of fact, the word Redskin was first recorded in the late 17th century and was applied to the Algonquian people generally, but specifically to the area where Delaware is located.

“Redskin” referred not to the natural skin color of the Delaware Indians, but to their use of vermilion face paint and body paint. In time, however, the term became an unfavorable connotation and to some has been considered offensive. In the true sense of the word it shouldn’t be offensive.

Why would someone consider, Chief Illiniwek or the Bradley Brave to be offensive? The Chief’s tenure ended in 2007 at the University of Illinois because of outside pressure and there is a movement to remove the Brave from Bradley University. Why? I am not a native American, but I would think it would be an honor to have a team named after me or my people.

Right now ten members of Congress are urging the Washington Redskins to change the team’s name and have sent letters to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder, Redskins sponsor FedEx and the other 31 NFL owners asking them to help make the change.

The thought of changing a nickname at this point would also set off all kinds of trademark protection lawsuits.  Snyder, by the way, has proclaimed that he will never change the name as long as he owns the team.  I say “good for him!”  If you abolish all the Indian names from American sports teams when will you ever think about the role the Native Americans played in our country?  Probably never. Better be careful before over-reacting. It’s not offensive.  It’s an honor!

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