A “Redskin” is the scalped head of a Native American, sold, like a pelt, for cash

Esquire:

The very mention of that word—the single-most offensive name one could ever call a Native American—has always made my blood boil.

Non-Natives may never quite understand how deep the term “redskins” cuts into ancient wounds that have never quite healed, and maybe it’s not reasonable to expect them to. But every time Dan Snyder refuses to change his NFL team’s name, even with tribes paying for powerful ads in opposition like the one that recently aired during the NBA Finals, Snyder plunges a long, twisted blade into our hearts.

For any numbers of reasons enumerated here and elsewhere, it’s time to change the name of the team.



  • T_Will

    What a great example of how how ridiculously far the “politically correct” movement has gone over the line.

    I’m sorry it offends a few people, but just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.

    • GFYantiapplezealots

      So you’re saying it’s okay to have the Seattle Yellowskins and L.A. Brownskins? Pathetic. Just because it’s been around forever doesn’t make it right or not racist.

    • JohnDoey

      Complaining about political correctness is the last refuge of the bigot. There is no “political correctness movement.” That only exists in your mind. That is an excuse that is used to try to perpetuate a privileged position for some people in society at the expense of others.

      Free speech does not include making threats of violence. You can’t threaten to kill the President or your neighbor and say that is free speech. Well, words like “redskin” and “nigger” and “faget” are threats. That is all they are. For example, “faget” means “kindling” — when you call someone a “faget” that means “burn him alive,” like kindling. If you say, “let’s burn the President alive,” then the Secret Service will come to visit you and ask you why you are threatening the President. Equality means that the life of the President and any random person that you might think is homosexual are equally important. You can’t threaten either of them with violence. So no, you can’t call someone “faget.”

      The fact that you may not have personally not been threatened in any of the above ways means that you have to grow a little human empathy to understand what it would be like, for example, if your son was called “faget” day in and day out (whether he is homosexual or not) and then one day somebody killed him on his way home from school. That happens regularly. It is not “politically correct” to try to stop those threats from being made.

      But even if you have no empathy, you have a responsibility not to make threats of violence. So yes, you have to stop using words like “redskin” and “nigger” or “faget.” They are threats of violence. You have no free speech right to them. You have no right to use those threats to try and elevate your position in society above other people.

      • Anthony Visceglia

        So, the Native American schools that also use the Redskin as a mascot and name are threatening themselves? I feel pity for you and those that upvote your nonsense. Who are you to say that I (or anybody else) am implying violence by using a word?

        • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

          they’re using a derogative. try naming your school mascot the Atlanta Darkies and see what happens.

    • Terry Maraccini

      what ethnic origin are you sire? Would you prefer it, if that origin’s negative connotations be used to sell a product, identify an idea, or act as a rallying point for many?

      We could change the name to the “Washington clueless Insenstive Jerks” in your honor. Would that be okay with you?

      • T_Will

        Sure, change it to the Washington Whites.

        • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

          white isn’t a racial slur.

  • rb763

    I’m guessing this is one of those things where if you are a white male, you likely don’t get it and never will.

  • BC2009

    I never thought of a “redskin” as a “pelt” or “scalp” but rather a description of the color of someone’s skin. People are called “white”, “red”, “yellow”, “brown” and “black” skinned. Describing it as a scalp trophy seems a bit far-fetched. I doubt most people would take it that way and that anybody would intend it that way.

    All that being said, the name of the Washington Redskins team is a fairly lame name. I don’t know why Snyder is so intent on keeping it. Why not just rename it the “Washington Warriors” and keep the logo.

    • rb763

      I agree and I think they are going overboard with that scalp comparison. However I don’t think I have ever heard the term “Redskin” used complimentary…at least in the old Westerns I watched as a kid. :-)

      • def4

        That may just be related to the fact that the redskins were always the bad guys in the old westerns.

        • rb763

          Yes, exactly!

      • JohnDoey

        It is not a scalp comparison. It’s just history.

        The US government used to pay European Americans for every Native American that they killed. The way that you would show that you had actually killed a Native American was to turn in their scalp. The scalp was called a “redskin.”

        When you call a living person a “redskin” you are threatening to kill that person, and you’re saying that it would be a righteous killing, not murder. That it would be a killing you would be so proud of, you would keep their scalp to prove you did that killing.

        • Kriztyan

          It was worse. They paid twice as much for a male than for a female, they only paid half the value for a child, since they pose less of a threat or danger. The greedy would go to the water source and wait for the women to show up with there kids. Easy money. Ethnic cleansing. Simply evilly perverse.

    • JohnDoey

      People are called “white”, “red”, “yellow”, “brown” and “black” skinned.

      Those are racist categorizations that do not in fact, describe the color of a person’s skin, but rather the “race” they are said to belong to. Racists categorize some people as “white” when their skin is not, in fact, white. Racists categorize some people as “black” when their skin is not, in fact, black.

      The thing is, racism was proven to be false sometime in the early 1800′s. It turns out, there is only one race: human race.

      So you just proved that the Washington football team’s name is racist, by identifying it as part of the racist categorization system. And the fact that you don’t seem to know that it is a racist categorization system, and you also don’t seem to know that racism was proven to be false at least a couple of centuries ago only underscores why the team’s name needs to be changed. You’re like, “I didn’t know it meant the skin you would turn in to the government to get paid for having killed a Native American, I just though it was a racist categorization and I don’t see the problem with it.”

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

      well it’s a good thing somebody named bc2009 doesn’t think it was used that way.

  • SockRolid

    Now on deck: the “Atlanta Braves.”

    • T_Will

      Don’t forget to change these offensive names too:

      Patriots Texans Steelers Packers Chiefs Raiders Cowboys Vikings Saints 49er

      • GFYantiapplezealots

        You’re a moron.

        • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

          Knock off the personal insults and name calling. There’s no place for it here.

          • JohnDoey

            Usually I would agree with you. But T_Will is, in fact, a moron.

          • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

            I’m not asking you to agree with me. I don’t care if you do or if you don’t. I’m telling you to stop the personal insults and name calling.

          • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

            sure there is. if he thinks “texans” or “cowboys” is the same as a racial slur, then he’s a moron. if you agree, then you’re a moron, too.

      • Terry Maraccini

        It’s time to stop talking now. Your idiocy is leaking out of your skull.

        • T_Will

          Get off your high horse.

  • SockRolid

    And, actually, addressing a Native American as “chief” isn’t cool at all either. Kansas City Chiefs come to mind immediately here.

    • Terry Maraccini

      I always thought it was Chefs, like in the snickers commercial.

  • rb763

    I think it might be a waste of time trying to argue this point but here goes. What if a team called itself the “Chinamen”. What would be wrong with that? After all there is nothing wrong with “Englishmen”, is there? The problem is that “Chinaman” has a pejorative history, and so has “Redskin”, and so has the n-word, for that matter and you’d never use that in a team name. That’s why there is nothing wrong with Braves, Chiefs, Cowboys, etc. but something wrong with Redskins.

    • JohnDoey

      “Redskin” is not pejorative. It is a threat of violence. So is “nigger” and “faget.” These are not words that people applied to themselves. They are threats of violence made upon those people by other people in order to perpetuate a genocide upon them, or enslave them. No, those terms are not appropriate for team names.

      “Englishman” is a name that English people applied to themselves, but if you call your team that and you are not in England, the fans of that team will show up at games and do culturally imperialist things. They will act as though their own culture is better or more important than English culture. They will mock English culture. If your team is called the Englishman, you should be in England.

      Similarly, if you are in the United States and you call your team “the Mexicans,” your fans will mock Mexican culture. They will show up in sombreros, with curly mustaches drawn on their faces and bottles of tequila in their hands. Every game will be a big fuck you to Mexico.

      The question is: why do that? Why call your team Englishmen or Mexicans? Why burden your team with that? Why provide an excuse for fans to indulge in anti-English or anti-Mexican hatred?

      What is wrong with the name Braves is the same: the fans of that team immediately start doing culturally imperialist things, like the Tomahawk Chop. They mock Native American culture. They dress up as Native Americans. They tap into the long history of European Americans killing and subjugating Native Americans.

      Why do that? Why call your team the Braves when it is in Atlanta? Isn’t there something about Atlanta that you could use as a team nickname? Something that represents Atlanta rather than denigrates people elsewhere?

      Imagine that some people from the Sioux nation start a baseball team, and they call it the Sioux Braves, and they put a tomahawk on their uniform. The Atlanta Braves would sue them for trademark infringement. The Atlanta Braves would be saying we own the term “braves” and the image of a tomahawk. Isn’t that absurd?

      With the Chiefs it is the same. They use an arrow head logo that is derived from Native American culture. They have used many other parts of Native American culture as trademarked imagery in the past. They provide an excuse for their fans to continue the long, sad history of cultural imperialism against Native Americans. Why? Why not celebrate Kansas City instead?

      With the Cowboys, now you have something completely different, because the Dallas Cowboys are located in the heart of cowboy country. The Dallas Cowboys were started by and are run by people who were actual cowboys. The Dallas Cowboys are similar to my above example of Sioux Braves. The Dallas Cowboys are not denigrating cowboy culture from afar, they are celebrating cowboy culture from within.

      But imagine that the Cowboys were not in Dallas. Imagine that they were located in New York. Imagine that fans of the New York Cowboys liked to dress up in cowboy hats and boots when they came to games and talk in bad Texas accents and the team’s tag line was “we’re just dumb hicks” and every New York Cowboys game was like a big fuck you to Texas. Don’t you think that people in Texas would complain about that? And the thing is, there is no history of New Yorkers going down to Texas and killing cowboys and bringing their hats to the US government and getting paid for those killings. So the New York Cowboys would be much, much better than Atlanta Braves or Washington Redskins.

      The Atlanta Braves used to be the Boston Braves. You know who else used to play in Boston? The Boston Braves football club, now known as the Washington Redskins. WTF does Boston have to do with Native American culture? Before they were the Boston Braves, the Atlanta Braves were the Boston Bees. Not a great name, but at least it wasn’t racist and culturally imperialist.

      So the fact that these teams have used these names for years is no excuse for continuing to use them. These hateful names are not even their original names in most cases. And teams change names all the time when it suits them for business purposes. When the Montreal Expos — named for the Montreal Expo that happened the same year the team was formed — moved to Washington, they renamed themselves the Nationals. Because that was convenient for them. The self-interest may not be apparent to the Redskins, Chiefs, Indians, and Braves right now, but it will become apparent within the next generation when younger fans of today grow up and don’t want to be fans of those teams.

  • John V.

    Funny how it’s always white middle-aged guys the ones being offended on behalf of some minority about something someone said, or some word that was used.

    Why would a white guy feel the need to have his “blood boiling” and be “outraged” on behalf of Native Americans here?

    Maybe because deep inside, every middle-aged guy feels Native Americans are helpless, almost child-like, and lack the ability and eloquence to express their outrage, so good white dudes should give a hand, right?

    Or how about you stop riding that bandwagon and go about your business. If Native Americans have an issue with the Redskins brand, let them say it.

    • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

      You may have missed the line where the author of the piece said, “I feel that pain not only because I’m a proud Native American, of Cherokee and Choctaw lineage…”

      • John V.

        Well, I suppose “proud Native American” is very relative here. I mean, he’s been successfully assimilated by the people who enslaved his race.

        • JohnDoey

          Well, I suppose “proud Native American” is very relative here. I mean, he’s been successfully assimilated by the people who enslaved his race.

          No, that is not true. He is part of a multicultural American society that includes Native Americans, African Americans, Latin Americans, European Americans, Asian Americans, and others.

          You are just expressing the racist bigoted perspective that European American culture and American culture are the same thing, and everybody else can only be American by being assimilated into European American culture. All you have to do to see that you are wrong is look at a typical European American 20-something who is covered in story tattoos (Native American,) eating tacos (Latin American,) listening to rap music (African American,) and watching kung fu action movies (Asian American.) European Americans are just one part of the overall American culture.

          • John V.

            Seriously now… tattoos, kung-fu, tacos and rap.

            If you were trying to assemble some shallow parody of multiculturalism, success.

        • Kriztyan

          Native Americans where killed, they were taken out of there ancestral land, they were placed in reservations. But they were never enslaved. Not that people didn’t try.

        • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

          way to move the goalposts when exposed as wrong.

      • Anthony Visceglia

        But there are plenty of Native Americans who disagree with the position in that article. So who is to decide, then, who is right and who is wrong? Do we just always cater to those who are offended, regardless of the reasoning or rationale?

    • http://www.thediceguys.com Dean Lewis

      They say it all the time. Don’t assume because you aren’t listening, they haven’t been asking for this for decades.

    • JohnDoey

      You missed something really important:

      THIS IS NOT ABOUT NATIVE AMERICANS.

      THIS IS 100% ABOUT EUROPEAN AMERICANS.

      This is about the long, sad history of European American violence and oppression of other cultures on the American continent. A history that the Washington football team is proudly celebrating, and as such, is continuing.

      As stated in the article we’re commenting on, the term “redskin” refers to the Native American scalp that a European American could turn in to the US government to prove that they had killed a Native American, and receive financial compensation for that killing.

      You know who should be asking the European American owner of the Washington football team to stop celebrating the long history of European American violence upon Native Americans? Other European Americans. It is not up to Native Americans to police the hatred in European Americans. It is up to other European Americans. Same as it is not up to African Americans to stop the KKK which is victimizing them. It is up to other European Americans. The KKK is made up of European Americans.

      So it is not only moral and ethical for a European American to be offended by the team’s name, it is also logical to be offended. Same as European Americans should be morally, ethically, and logically offended by the KKK. The Washington Redskins and the KKK continue the shameful tradition of violence by European Americans against Native Americans and African Americans, respectively. There is not only no excuse for continuing that tradition, and celebrating that tradition, there is no excuse for not being ashamed of that tradition.

  • the_other_stevejobs

    So many people don’t understand how deeply disturbing it is to promote a group of people who’s main methodology of gaining resources was to burn and pillage other lands, while taking human beings as spoils of war. Yet we continue to allow a team to be called Vikings.

    So many people don’t understand how deeply disturbing it is to promote a band of hooligans and traitors who raped and pillaged an entire continent, decimating a peaceful race of people only to replace them with Walmarts. Yet we continue to allow a team to be called Patriots.

    So many people don’t understand how deeply disturbing it is to promote a nickname given to a people which is based on masturbatory messages. Yet we continue to allow a team to be called the Yankees.

    Yet we continue to allow a team to be called the Cowboys Yet we continue to allow a team to be called the 49ers. Yet we continue to allow a team to be called the Raiders. Yet we continue to allow a team to be called the Packers. Yet we continue to allow a team to be called the Texans.

    • JohnDoey

      What you missed in your little work of genius here is that the term “redskins” does not celebrate Native American culture. It celebrates the killing of Native Americans by European Americans. Many people today — including European Americans — don’t think that is something to celebrate. Especially not in a city that passed laws to legalize the killing of Native Americans by European Americans. It is very curious why the ownership of the Washington Redskins continues to celebrate an attempted genocide.

      Also, the Patriots, Cowboys, Raiders, Packers, and Texans are all located in the areas that their mascots refer to — unlike the Washington Redskins — and are using names that the people in those areas gave themselves — unlike the Washington Redskins.

      In order for the Washington Redskins to follow the same naming convention as the other teams you mentioned, they would have to be named the Washington Politicos or the Sioux Braves.

  • http://www.thediceguys.com Dean Lewis

    As someone who lives in Oklahoma among many people of Native American descent, I know first hand how much they hate the term Redskins and can’t wait for the Washington team to change it. It’s the beginning of the end, anyway, since the USPTO just killed the team’s trademark on the term. (And logo, too? I have to check that.)

    If you are not Native American and are sitting here saying “I don’t understand how anyone can be offended because ____fill in the blank__,” you’re part of the problem. Get with the current century and deal with it. And, frankly, if you can’t tell the difference between the bad connotation of “Redskin” and the words “Patriot” or “49ers” you’re a terrible human being and need remedial help.

    The can’t keep the logo. The hook-nosed generic injun look is part of the problem.

    By the way: Several of the other teams mentioned have changed their ways. The Braves, for example, no longer reference “Chief Noc-a-Homa” and do not encourage the Tomahawk Chop crap.

    This isn’t about political correctness. It’s about growing the hell up and moving on up the evolutionary ladder. I don’t have any problem leaving knuckledraggin’ racists behind.

  • Anthony Visceglia

    Do people even bother to do ANY research before they hitch a ride to a bandwagon?

    Turn back now, because here be facts:

    1) The first documented use of the term “red skin” was descriptive, not derogatory. Native Americans similarly referred to the invading Europeans as “light skin”. While there is certainly debate on what the term has implied to mean over time, it never referred to scalps.

    2) Many Native American schools use the Redskin as their mascot. Example: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Mesa_High_School

    Anyone has a right to be offended by just about anything. But in this case, people that are offended to the term Redskins are almost certainly adding their own connotation to the term. Some will justifiably argue that because the term is descriptive on a physical level, it is inherently racist. I would disagree strongly, but I think that’s the ONLY logical case you can make against the term.

    • http://www.thediceguys.com Dean Lewis

      So your proof of “many Native American schools” is to point to one? Also, see other arguments above about the difference when Native Americans themselves use the term and when the general populace does so with a load of derisive, racist imagery and actions attached to it.

      Your argument is as misplaced as people claiming Oklahoma should change its name because it means “Red People.” However, that name was suggested by a Choctaw Chief Allen Wright in 1866, so it’s a completely different case from using a name which is derogatory (definitely moreso than “people”) and was attached by white folks with all the hooked-nose caricatures, pidgin-speech cheers, mixing of cultural icons into a generic “Injun” type, and the rest of it.

      It’s a terrible name, no matter who uses it. Maybe the Native American school(s) can rethink theirs as well — although being native American they have less of a need to than a national football team that needs to move beyond the 19th century. It’s time. Any amount of telling people to get over it can just be turned around: people need to get over keeping such a crappy name.

      • Anthony Visceglia

        There are many Native American schools that use the name, and there are many non-Native American schools that use the name. Do I need to list all of them? Does the fact that some non-Native American schools use the name somehow validate this?

        Your argument boils down to this: the name is not acceptable because I say so, and no matter who is using it, and no matter how innocuous their intentions, it needs to go.

        Which, obviously, nobody will be able to argue with; you’ve made your decision, and so be it.

        But when’s the last time you heard somehow insult or demean a Native American by calling them a Redskin? The term isn’t an insult now, even if it was at one time. It’s not derogatory. It’s not anything. It’s just a word. Nobody uses it anger, nobody uses it to justify murder or another vile deed. You can vilify the word, or you can vilify actions in the past that may have involved the word, but neither of those justify eradicating the word now.

        We HAVE moved on. Native Americans suffered mightily. Reparations have been made. Those involved in the atrocities on both sides are long-since departed. The best way to put that all behind us is to just let it all go.

        • http://www.thediceguys.com Dean Lewis

          You cannot innocuously be racist.

        • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

          “But when’s the last time you heard somehow insult or demean a Native American by calling them a Redskin?”

          Just because X number of us haven’t heard it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. As several other posters to this thread have pointed out, they have heard it.

          “The term isn’t an insult now”

          If you believe that, you haven’t been paying attention. That’s what this whole issue is about.

          • Anthony Visceglia

            I couldn’t disagree with your position more, but since nobody on either side is going to change their mind, I’ll simply offer that I don’t believe the team will be changing their name anytime soon.

          • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

            that’s not a counter argument. you lose the debate.

    • Terry Maraccini

      While your data supports the origins of the term, it does nothing to change the discussion.

    • http://www.laugh-eat.com/ kyron

      black men can use the term “nigger” as part of their culture. if you as a pudgy white guy try to hijack that and use it, you’ll be destroyed. you know that, I know that. it’s no different here — that actual Indians use Indian mascots is contextually very different than you using it. duhh

      • Moeskido

        Ah, but he’s likely a pudgy white guy of Italian descent, by appearances. Should we discuss how his parents or grandparents might feel about a team called, say, the Chicago Wops or the Kansas City Dagos?

        FWIW, I’m a pudgy white guy descended from Polish Jews who stopped off in Palestine for a generation or two, just for bragging rights. Then they helped kick out or kill the indigenous inhabitants and rewrote the region’s history. Sound familiar?

        Many of us who live in or near big port cities believe our entire country is well past this sort of hateful pigeonholing. It isn’t. A lot of these names are still used to defame, attack, and exclude.

  • Terry Maraccini

    Dan Snyder et al will be punished. Maybe not on this planet, but…

  • John

    Fooland is currently leading the Persian Soccer League. They should change their club name to the Caucasians to celebrate the fighting spirit of all the dead Europeans and Americans who have died pointlessly in the middle east over the last 1500 years. Gosh, that sounds like fun.

  • CommonSense

    I just think it’s interesting that a website that seems to detest the use of women (sexualized) to sell something has linked to this website that is plastered with it. Even if to “make a point” about some current agenda. Hmmm

    • http://www.yourmaclifeshow.com/ Shawn King

      It’s interesting you think one has anything to do with the other. It’s interesting you feel capable of contriving connections when there are none. Interesting you think “the use of women (sexualized) to sell something” has anything to do with the linked story or the discussion going on here in this thread.