Random PoP Query


I was really intrigued by this bumper sticker. Every now and then I hear some report that people are upset with the name Redskins but it tends to die down pretty quickly. I actually went to college at a school where we were called the Redskins and when I was a senior there was a vote on whether or not to change the name. Well, if I recall correctly, the students voted overwhelming to keep the name the Redskins. And the next year it was changed to the Redhawks. And nobody cares about the name change anymore. So if the name Redskins is insensitive, even to just a few, why won’t they change the name? History? Marketing? Is it not really offensive and people are being too PC? So do you think the name should be changed? Any guesses on why it hasn’t changed? Have any suggestions for a new name?

51 Comment

  • I remember when the debate was going on at Miami U, the administration kept saying that they had a great relationship with the Miami Nation (currently “reserved” in Oklahoma) and that they took great pride in the name Redskins. Eventually the Nation spoke up and said, well, actually, it’s pretty offensive. Name changed the next year.

    As a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan, I wrestle with this issue from time to time. Emotional connection to the team, hatred of the racist logo and name. What’s a fan to do?

  • Too much history/goodwill behind the name is why it’s not changed. There was a huge trademark battle over the name a few years ago (you can’t trademark disparaging words), and the Redskins won. During the litigation, Dan Snyder registered the trademark “Washington Warriors”–meaning, that, had they lost, the Redskins would have changed their name to Washington Warriors. To me that is worse (or at least equal) to the travesity that was the Bullets to Wizards name change. Personally, I fall into the camp that “Redskins” by itself isn’t offensive (the slur, if it ever was one, has truly lost its impact by now), and feel that being overly-PC on native american references will really only serve to marginalize the history of native americans even more (it’s sad, but I’m sure many americans only reference to native americans at all is their use as mascots of sports teams–and that at least fosters goodwill rather than irrelevance).

  • It hasn’t been changed because litigation is still pending. In 1992 a group of activists filed a petition against the name and the U.S. Trade Trial and Appeal Board agreed that the name and logos could not be trademarked because they are a racial slur. The court of appeals overturned the ruling and in 2006, a new, younger group of activists filed another suit (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/11/AR2006081101045.html).

    They argue, and rightfully so in my opinion, that using words that are racially sensitive for other “minorities” as team names/mascots would never, ever be tolerated so why should this be tolerated.

    It’s interesting to note that the team has not won a Super Bowl since the original petition was filed in 1992…karma?

  • Actually, I find it really offensive and think they should have changed it years ago. The continued use of these mascots and images promotes stereotypes, undermines the education of all communities with respect to native americans, especially those who have little to no contact with indigenous people, and it negatively impacts the self-esteem and development of native american children and communities at large. It’s racist, plain and simple.

  • The Washington Post Magazine had an interesting article a few months back in which they predicted what DC would be like in 2017. One scenario mentioned briefly that the team will have been renamed to the Washington Hogs. I kind of like it. Still would root for them. Go Big Blue!

    P.S. My use of future perfect made my head hurt.

  • I could see that the Redskins name can be considered offensive. I can also see how the Chief Wahoo logo the Cleveland Indians used to prominently use was offensive. But when people just say the name “Indians” alone is offensive I don’t quite get that.

  • Maybe it wouldn’t be offensive if they won games. I would hate it if a team was called the Whiteskins that sucked, though i don’t think it would undermine education of communities as Jon claims. Go Bucs!

  • If you don’t like it, go root for the Ravens. Otherwise, let it go.

  • America, love it or leave it!

  • Its just a name, change it. I mean it is still the same everything else for the most part. Seriously if a team can pick up new players each year, change the starting line ups, trade people who have been on the team for years, and move to different stadiums, change coaches …why can’t they change their stupid name? Change is ok people especially when it serves to help alleviate the hurt of a whole race of people.

    After I graduated from VaTech there was a vote over changing a dormitory’s name from Lee hall to something that wasn’t name after an outwardly racist man who lynched people because he felt they were the wrong color. Will it be weird calling it by anything other than Lee, and will it make me a little sad that something I was so familiar with is going to be something completely different to future generations of Hokies, sure, but honestly holding on to it for the sake of is just plain selfish!

    And dclounger you are obviously a racist if you think that because you don’t find Redskin offensive that it is ok to continue using when the people it was used to refer to do find it offensive. Well good for you that Redskin doesn’t offend you, I mean why should it since you are obviously not a Native American. I guess then by your standards it should be ok to drop the N word because there are tons of people out there who don’t think it is offensive regardless what the people being refered to with the word feel.

  • #101 on Stuff White People Like

    Spot. On.

  • A long time ago Jim Vance interviewed a native american about this issue. Jim asked if it was really that big a deal. The native american looked at him and asked “would you cheer for a team called The Washington Niggers?”. Guy had a point. But I hope if it does get changed eventually that they just drop the “red” and call them “the skins”. It could be short for the Pig Skins. Hail to the Pigskins! the hogettes would like that im sure. Beats the Hell out of the Warriars anyway

  • I grew up as a huge fan and I’ve also come to believe they should change the name. I mean, does anyone actually believe that in 30 years they’ll still be playing as “Redskins”? Let’s just get it over with already. What’s the big deal? They could probably keep the not-so-offensive logo if they just changed the name to “Potomacs”. It’s a good time because they’ll be lucky to win five games next year anyway.

  • America love it or leave it… are you serious? So when America was busy killing the Native American and stealing their land we should have just been ok with that and continue to do it? Or when we were using men and women like farm machines that was cool too? So if we had been around during then, if we didn’t like Slavery we should have just left the country? Left it the way it was?

    And FourthandEye, Indians refers to people from India, not to the Native Americans. It is like calling someone from Mexico a Spaniard… two entirely different countires.

    Seriously you are putting more importance on a Sports Team Name/Logo than an entire race of people’s feelings. WTF?!?

  • woah woah woah…lets not throw out names like ‘racist’ just because we all might disagree. i see dcloungers point..when was the last time anyone even considered native americans as a people with a culture, outside of seeing a washington redskin decal on someones car? that might sound blunt and ignorant, but as someone with probably equal parts cherokee and irish in me, i dont feel bad for speaking a truth… i agree that if the name is that offensive, it should be changed, but lets not get to carried away with how dangerous and horrible the situation is.. a lot of people dislike reagan for his (lack of an) AIDS policy/campaign back in the day, and blame him for the ridiculously high infection rate today, so maybe we should change national airport while were at it? or maybe, so as not to dishonor the memory of all the americans who fought in the revolutionary war to free us from englands monarchy, we should rename burger king and dairy queen to something more democratic?

  • Actually, if you ask around, most American Indians prefer to be referred to by whichever tribe they are part of, however if a catchall phrase is necessary, American Indian is the preferred term not Native Amercian…for example, please note that it’s not the National Museum of the Native American, it’s the National Museum of the American Indian (while governed by the Smithsonian, a museum dreamed, largely funded by and largely run by American Indians)

  • wow wow wow, Prince of Petworth! you’ve touched nerves today my friend!

    sometimes, I wonder if I’m the only “NDN” (Indian, Native American, American Indian) that reads this site.

    Finally we have a topic surrounding an Invisible Minority. My FAVE! You know how sometimes you’re at Pentagon City and or H Street Corridor, you see kids from Gallaudet signing and you think “holy shit, there’s an entire community of people of live/exist/walk among us that I never think about and on a very fundamental level, I’ll never understand what its like for them”. The difference between them and me is there’s a real possibility that you could become deaf. No one can suddenly/irreversibly become NDN. That’s not to say that you couldn’t be integrated into an NDN community or marry an NDN man/woman. But as far as understanding certain things- what its like to be reduced to a caricature as “Chief Wahoo” or to be told by Daniel Snyder, who owns the Washington NFL franchise, the team name will never be changed because “what it means is tradition… what it means is honor. It is not meant to be derogatory”- those are the things that NDNs must carry.

    I’d hardly say that Mascots foster good will towards NDNs. If anything, there’s nothing more humiliating and dehumanizing for our children than watching drunken white people sing generic chants, paint their faces and take up foam tomahawks to “honor Native Americans”. Oh! be still my noble-savage heart! Stephanie Fryberg has published research regarding the effects of mascot imagery depicting NDNs and the ramifications it has for NDN children. There will never be teams called “the washington coloureds/mammies”, “dc Ninjas/FOBS” “district deafies”. Bottom line, its psychologically damaging to NDN children. And despite what you may think, NDNs are more than extras for Epic frontier dramas directed and starred in by Kevin Costner.

    My point is this. Everyday you walk around in the city among NDNs. You may not see them, you may not know them, but we’re here. Taking the metro. Working on the Hill. Having drinks at Wonderland. Jogging through rock creek park. Eating at Sweet Mangoes. We’re just like everyone else. Except we’re not human enough to stop being your goddamn mascot.

  • touche.

    in the future, can we all agree to wait a day or so before someone decidely shuts down an argument? i love these debates, and now the best one weve had in a while is over in just a few hours 🙁

  • Hot Damn Ndninthecity!!! Am I the only one who thinks that is the best comment this blog has ever seen???!?

    I can not BELIEVE that anyone on this blog (who generally seem to be fairly forward thinking people) can actually embrace the statements “when was the last time anyone even considered native americans as a people with a culture, outside of seeing a Washington redskin decal on someones car?” or “I fall into the camp that “Redskins” by itself isn’t offensive (the slur, if it ever was one, has truly lost its impact by now)” Yeah, ignorant probably sums that up.

    I’m not trying to criticize, I’m just honestly floored. It’s like the first time I went to Europe and heard “worldly” and educated people say things like “It’s okay to spit on them, they’re just Gypsies”

  • “i see dcloungers point..when was the last time anyone even considered native americans as a people with a culture, outside of seeing a washington redskin decal on someones car? ”

    Isn’t that the whole problem, the only time anyone thinks about an entire group of people as a whole, it is in negatively portrayed stereotypes and racially insensitive words and slurs?

  • The claim of “tradition” in support of keeping the name is an embarassment. Change the name to Hogs so we fans can enjoy some guilt-free cheering.

  • so, whats worse than being thought of in a ‘negatively’ portrayed stereotype? maybe not being thought of at all? and before anyone else jumps my shit for simply asking the question, how about you answer it? did you ponder the plight of the american indians this morning over coffee? did anyone read up on the trail of tears over lunch? its so easy for some people to grab a cause for a day and say ‘hey, were going to make a difference!’, but do those same people give a crap next week? instead of feigning care with pseudo activism that results in a name change (again, i agree with the name change, and fully support it) why dont you guys actually do something that involves blood sweat and tears, that not only helps you sleep at night, but also actually helps out the people youre so worried about?

  • My point is this. Everyday you walk around in the city among NDNs.

    I’m sure we think they’re from Chile!


    ahem. no one laughed?

    No really, I mean that joke well because there are communities of south and central American immigrants in DC who are as ethnically native to the “new world” as you are and we definitely talk to them every day and it’s totally obvious to all of us that we talk to them every day. That people can see one group and not the other is really weird. Perhaps you called us on it.

    I have never spent money, any money, on anything featuring anything from the “Washington Football Team” as such. It made me uncomfortable, even as a child.

    Generally, any team mascot that DOES NOT reflect the culture of the school or community, but reflects someone else’s culture, needs to be changed immediately. Think about it. Everyone is allowed to make fun of their culture, but not someone else’s. So, then… why do you get to keep it?

    So, can Notre Dame reflect its Irishness with that awful guy? Ugh, if they want to. Can the San Diego Padres reflect the Latin-ness of San Diego with that religious figure? Well, controversial… but if it flies over all, let it stay. Can a Hawaiian team use Hawaiian imagery? I sure hope they do! But… my father grew up next to a reservation and you know… if you live near American Indian communities then your team is the mountain goats or the buffalo or the longhorns or the cardinals, prospectors, vikings, etc.

    Or look at totally awesome teams names like the UConn Huskies, the Volunteers or the Buckeyes?

    The age of the culturally-based team name should really be over by now. really, it should.

  • I Love the “skins” but I would also love to a name change. This is the capital city of America and it is embarassing to have a team with a slur for a name. I think a name that is emblematic of our city or country would be much better. Look to the “Nationals” the “Capitals” the “United” the uhhh.. errr..”Wizards???” well you get my meaning. Maybe the “Washington Elected Officials”. naah.. I got nothin’

  • instead of feigning care with pseudo activism that results in a name change (again, i agree with the name change, and fully support it) why dont you guys actually do something that involves blood sweat and tears, that not only helps you sleep at night, but also actually helps out the people youre so worried about?

    Why is pseudo activism negative? Isn’t it really something slightly positive?

    I really did attempt to set up a business relationship with a software help desk company run out of the Umatilla Reservation- Cayuse Technologies- but we were unable to get that contract team together in time. I think you’re underestimating how connected some of us are to American Indian tribes by way of government contracting… I mean, this is Washington, DC and there are people here holding purse strings representing, you know North and South Dakota, so you don’t ignore that when you bid on projects…

  • I go back and forth on this one…on the one hand, i know, inherently that the name has racial overtones,undertones, and even side-notes and that there is offence to be taken there for any number of reasons (including that I am white and like to take offense at things…not reason #101 as mentioned above by Anon.) I look at other sporting teams and note that their ‘mascots/logos’ do not have to really be a thing, let alone a person. The New York Metropolitans, Knickerbockers, Manchester/DC United, Colorado Avalanche (albeit a silly name), come to mind quickly. I always like the United-type names, there is something classy about that…I do also question how ‘effective’ this would be in football, as identifiable mascots seems to be the way to go (although that the community of Williams isnt up at arms abotu the Buffalo Bills surprises me..hehe).

    On the other hand, I do wonder what the actual harm is. Is the outrage at all “universal” or even ‘real’ in the Native community…or is this something that white people are upset about in theory? Im not saying that it isnt real…I just have yet to experience someone who is verifiably upset about it.

    As for acceptable substitutes…wow, thats a hard one to ponder in reality. I think the Hogs isnt bad…although if we were to go with Joe Bugel-isms, there is always the Dirtbags as well…but Im sure that isnt, positive enough. Is the specificity of the Potomacs any less offensive if everything else stays the same? At that point everyone is still going to call them the Redskins, and then we are perpetrating the stereotype/name-calling more than considering it a generic.

    I dunno. But it does remind me that I miss football…even if I am distracted with hockey at the moment.

  • As an Asian American, I would prefer no one thought about Asians or any of our plights as a whole rather than see a sticker logo of some racial stereotype of one of us…

    hmm…no one thinks about my ethnic group over coffee or reads about the Monks setting themselves on fire in protest in China today or they laugh at a picture of a short wrinkled asian man eating a giant bowl of rice with his giant mustache all while bowing with a stupid grin on his face…still not thinking about the Monks setting themselves on fire. Well lets see…

    And I doubt anyone who wants to keep the name Redskins really ponders over their morning brew anything related to actual American Indians and their history. They probably just think about football.

  • im not saying that pseudo activism is bad.. its just annoying to see some people take on a cause for the simple fact that they saw a bandwagon roll by and they jumped on… if it results in a postive change, then great, no problems, onto the next cause… but i feel like in the grand scheme of things, a lot gets pushed aside for the charity of the day, things that may be more important to the great good.

  • BS, maybe you should read what ndninthecity said, as he actually seems to be pretty offended by this and is not White.

  • Isn’t equality is for the greater good?

  • i doubt that anyone who wants to change the name thinks about it either. thats the point, i dont believe that anyone is thinking about the real issue. change the name, great. does that set american indians at ease from now on? dont laugh at the stereotypical asian character eating rice… did the monks stop setting themselves on fire? thats the problem with society, everyone wants to clean around the outside of the wound and slap a bandaid on it, but that doesnt do anything when its a gunshot wound. you cant just treat the effects of the problem, something has to be done about the cause of it.

  • Yup. NDN’s post hadnt come up yet by the time I finished my novel of a blubbering post.

    I have to agree with him, although I find the notion that s/he may/may not consider her/himself people’s mascot on a daily basis an interesting social ethos/pathos (depending on POV). I also have to agree with Kalia and DCer as well though…and it mirrors my own ponderings.

  • My vote goes toward the team changing their name.

  • No, its just small steps towards a greater good. If people can’t take other races seriously why would they want to help them out in other areas? I mean saying that you have to fix the entire whole problem in one fell swoop before you do the smaller things is like saying you can’t make bricks to build a house until you have all the other supplies to build the entire house. Yeah you could wait, but why not get a start on the pieces?

  • I’m glad that someone else brought up Dr. Stephanie Fryberg’s research on the effects on Indian mascots on Indian Youth. Her research has found that “American Indian mascots are harmful not only because they are often negative, but because they remind American Indians of the limited ways in which others see them,” Fryberg says. “This in turn restricts the number of ways American Indians can see themselves.” Interestingly enough, the same negative effects have been shown in Indian people who SUPPORT these mascots. Results like these have led groups like the American Anthropological Association, the American Psychological Association, and the American Sociological Association to call for the end of the use of Indian Mascots.

    I am a former DC transplant, originally from the midwest, an avid sports fan and a proud enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation. As a sports fan I know that if someone wanted to change the name of my beloved Green Bay Packers, I wouldn’t be happy. But I also know that my support for my teams goes way beyond its name and I’d get over it. I see how these names and mascots affect my nieces, nephews, cousins and their friends. I see how they are treated by non Indians who see them as these two dimensional depictions seen in our modern media. Will changing the name of the Redskins really change anything in your average fan’s day to day life? Not likely. Will a change make a difference in the lives of young Indian people all over the country? There is a very real possibility that it will. Why be so selfish about something relatively trivial when the negative consequences are very real??


  • I am a former DC transplant, originally from the midwest, an avid sports fan and a proud enrolled member of the Ho-Chunk Nation.

    Ho-Chunk Nation? What was wrong with the name Winnebago?


    never mind.

    The people of the smelly waters…


  • We should ban St. Patrick’s Day, because I am Irish, and I do not like the idea of a holiday that is supposedly about “my heritage” but is all about drinking and has nothing to do with my heritage. It reinforces the stereotype that Irish people are drunks.

    We should ban the name of the New York Yankees, because I am offended by this slur for northerners. Might as well have the Richmond Confederates.

  • BS Said: “Is the outrage at all “universal” or even ‘real’ in the Native community…or is this something that white people are upset about in theory? Im not saying that it isnt real…I just have yet to experience someone who is verifiably upset about it.”

    Susan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne & Hodulgee Muscogee) lives in D.C. and is one of the original petitioners against the name….She curates exhibits at DC/AC and NMAI (can’t get much more local than that) … and as an aside her daughter used to be one of the most kick-ass bartenders in town….

  • So specifically with the Washington Redskins—what is everything that is offensive? This is a serious question, I swear. Is it just that the term “Redskins” is a slur (and especially because it is an easy-to-understand slur based on skin color)? Or does it include an American Indian being used as a macot (the logo on their helmets)? Does it include the guy that dresses up in the head dress (I kind of don’t think the guy I’m thinking about is affliated with the team, but I’m sure someone from the Redskins does or has done this)?

    I’m just trying to figure out what offends Kalia, et. al. If the name of the team was the Washington Warriors, but nothing else changed, would there still be this argument or would everything have gone away? So, and not to broaden this to a discussion outside of the Washington Redskins, but are you also offended at the Kansas City Chiefs, or are they okay?

  • One last bit…on the either-or mentality in some posts…
    I wouldnt send anyone to root for the Ravens (despite the literary coolness of their mascot). a) it is baltimore b) Art Modell should still face still penalty in the after-life for rewarding Cleveland with generations of loyal fans despite craptastic performance for most of em by selling out at the first chance. I digress…but it is similar to America, love it or leave it. I hated it when my 10th grade history teacher told me that…it is such a bad attitude. Loving something doesnt mean accepting blindly the stuff you dont like about it and believe can be bettered.

  • Serious Question, the Serious Answer is that it bothers me that we continue to ignore the fact that the name offends an ethnic group of people, which as we see on this post alone from some of the comments they feel it degrades them and directly effects their children’s view of their society and self. I think changing the name to help remedy this is a small price to pay for equality.

  • Might as well have the Richmond Confederates.

    You will find that many southern teams use their prefered nomenclature, “Rebels” such as the Ole Miss Rebels. Far from satire, what you talk about is plain old, if not banal, reality.

  • I dont care what Daniel Snyder (or the guys at my barber shop, for that matter) say-The name is racist as all get out. What hurts me more is seeing black people impersonating white people impersonating Native Americans at Fed Ex Field. We (black Americans) should know better.

  • Anyone on this blog who moved to DC since they turned 18 is not allowed to speak about changing the name of the WASHINGTON REDSKINS. Keep your white liberal guilt away from our football team — the WASHINGTON REDSKINS. And I second the earlier timely link:



  • Adams Morgan,

    You are slightly wrong on trademark issue. The plaintiff’s don’t have the abilty to force the Skins to change their name to something else. The issue for the plaintiff’s is revoking the trademark enforcement rights of the Skins against other entities. In other words, if the plaintiffs win, almost anyone can make shirts, helmets, etc with the Washington Redskins logo and trademarks and owe nothing back to Daniel Snyder. But Snyder can still keep the name.

  • Anyone on this blog who moved to DC since they turned 18 is not allowed to speak about changing the name of the WASHINGTON REDSKINS.

    Ok, I was born here and I think you’re a big dork.

  • Ok, I was born here and I think you’re a big dork.

    And that’s fine. I just don’t think all these hipsters who move here from somewhere in the middle of the country can just plop down for 3 years and then start getting offended by our football team, perhaps the most unifying symbol of the entire metropolitan region. If you can’t say that your earliest sports memories are watching Art Monk, Darrell Green, Charles Mann and John Riggins you need to mind your own business.

  • Blicious: I watched them, but not earliest memories (which are all baseball memories). I was in college when those guys were playing. (damn. I’m old.)

    And I was 17 when I moved to DC, a number of years ago.

    And I too think you’re being a dork. It is a rude name. There is no reason not to change it and many reasons that it should be changed.

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