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Re:Redskins, looks like there's more work to do

RollinRollin Posts: 1,547 Captain

While We’re Objecting to the Word ‘Redskins,’ Shouldn’t Oklahoma Change Its Name, Too?



Big Cabin Travel Plaza's Native American sentry in Big Cabin, OK (Randy Curioso)
There’s been a lot of discussion lately about whether the Washington Redskins should change their name… or coach, or maybe both. It’s a valid question, and everybody with a mouth or a keyboard is weighing in.

Since we’re on the topic and asking questions, should Oklahoma change its name?

Back when Andrew Jackson decided the biggest problem with America was actual Americans, indigenous people were rounded up and sent packing on the Trail of Tears. The final destination on the trail was a patch of dirt we call Oklahoma, likely to the chagrin of natives already living there (imagine your neighbors being evicted into your house).

First among the resettled tribes were the Choctaw, from whom we get the words okla humma, which literally means “red people.”

Yes, that’s the name we gave the whole state: Red People. It’s like Connecticut being named “White People” or Florida being named “Wrinkled People” or California being named “Fake Boobs.” Kinda racist, right? It’s one thing for the Choctaw to have the term okla humma, but isn’t it a bit crass for us to use that as a name for a state with, you know, red people we put there?

What kind of racist does that?

The red kind, actually. It was the idea of Allen Wright, a Choctaw chief, during treaty negotiations.

As an ofay of suspect ethnic pedigree, who am I question a Choctaw chief?

So if we’re to consider changing the name “Oklahoma,” we have to arrive at the conclusion that “red people” is inappropriate, as many are suggesting is the case with “Redskins.”

A 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey — the most recent poll to canvass American Indians for their opinions on the subject — found that 90 percent of Native Americans are not offended by the Redskins nickname.

Not a very flattering logo legacy (Redskins indicia 1937-present courtesy SportsLogos.net)
So is it racist to assume that Native Americans would be offended? Is it possible that advocates of the name change have been wrong? Or is it just that, of all the things in Washington Americans should find offensive, the name of the football team ranks well below official corruption and incompetence?

Maybe it’s the fact that “Redskins” features a color and the word “skin” right there in the name. But if Native Americans are generally cool with it, is it really offensive? If it’s an epithet, why do we never hear it used as such, or at all? As in, “This program is designed to provide greater educational opportunities in the **** community,” or “Man, those redskins sure got a good thing going with those casinos.”

Comedian Bill Burr notes that “There are a lot of Asians in this restaurant” is not necessarily racist; more a racial observation. On the other hand, “What the f..... are all these f.........’ Asians doing in this g........ restaurant?” is clearly racist. So let’s put “Redskins” to a simple test: Would you use the term if you were talking to a Native American?

“Hey, Joe, you’re a ****, right? What’s the deal with pow-wows?”

Unless your friend’s last name is Theismann, you’re probably not going to say that. There’s probably a good reason for that, and it’s the same reason you don’t harp on beer and potatoes around your other buddy, Paddy O’Hooligan.

So, yes, Redskins, as a name, is a bad idea. Is “red people” any better? For consistency alone, should we not argue against calling a state “red people?”

As you ponder that, consider these questions:

1. When you think of Oklahoma and racism, do you think, “Nooooo, not Oklahoma?!”

2. Would any change in Oklahoma really be a bad idea?

RYOT NOTE from Jordan

Native Americans don’t comprise a very influential voting bloc in this country, explaining why it occupies very little of the national discourse. Culture Collective uses new media to recognize the rich textures and customs of Native American cultures like the Hopi, Lakota, Cherokee as a means of celebration and transformation for communities. Click the gray box beside this article to learn more, donate and Become the News!


  • BigDanSBigDanS Posts: 832 Officer
    The older I get, and the more I learn about native Americans, the more disgusted I am at the European / Anglo American treatment of them. African Americans talk about reparations, but I truly believe we owe natives a debt of gratitude, a formal national apology, and a day of native American remembrance. The Germans slaughtered the Jews, and what we did to native Americans was no less, although in a more uninformed time.

    From Wikipedia... Genocide.
    From the 1490s when Christopher Columbus landed in the Americas to the end of the 19th century, the indigenous population of the Western Hemisphere declined, mostly from disease, to 1.8 million from around 50 million, a decline of 96%.[36] In Brazil alone, the indigenous population declined from a pre-Columbian high of an estimated 3 million to some 300,000 (1997).[37][38] Estimates of how many people were living in the Americas when Columbus arrived have varied tremendously; 20th century scholarly estimates ranged from 8.4 million to 112.5 million.[39] However, Robert Royal stated, "estimates of pre-Columbian population figures have become heavily politicized with scholars who are particularly critical of Europe and/or Western civilization often favoring wildly higher figures."[40]

    Epidemic disease was the overwhelming direct cause of the population decline of the American natives.[41][42] After first contacts with Europeans and Africans, the death of 90 to 95 percent of the native population of the New World was caused by Old World diseases such as smallpox and measles.[43] Some estimates indicate fatality rates of 80–90% in Native American populations during smallpox epidemics.[44]

    A highly disputed claim regarding the intentional ethnocide of indigenous populations in the Americas was the intentional use of disease as a biological weapon, which was first proposed by a commander of British forces Jeffery Amherst.[45][46] It was the only documented case of germ warfare and it is uncertain whether it successfully infected the target population.[47]

    Some historians argue that genocide, as a crime of intent, does not describe the colonization experience. Stafford Poole, a research historian, wrote: "There are other terms to describe what happened in the Western Hemisphere, but genocide is not one of them. It is a good propaganda term in an age where slogans and shouting have replaced reflection and learning, but to use it in this context is to cheapen both the word itself and the appalling experiences of the Jews and Armenians, to mention but two of the major victims of this century."[48]

    By contrast, David Stannard argued that the destruction of the American aboriginals, in a "string of genocide campaigns", was the most massive genocide in world history.[49] Stannard's claim of 100 million deaths has been challenged because he does not cite any demographic evidence to support this number, and because he makes no distinction between death from violence and death from disease. Multiple concurring pieces were released around the year 1992 to coincide with the 500th anniversary of Columbus' voyage. Noble David Cook rejected such claims, writing "There were too few Spaniards to have killed the millions who were reported to have died in the first century after Old and New World contact."[50]
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  • fishbitfishbit Posts: 608 Officer
    Every race/ethnicity has been ruled by the sword of another at one time or another.

    “Never let the past spoil your present or govern your future.” – Author Unknown
    Nature goes on her way, and all that to us seems an exception is really according to order.
    (Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe)
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