NFL official: Redskins 'not a slur'

Discussion in 'Rival Team Forum' started by little bear, May 31, 2014.

  1. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11007769/nfl-official-says-washington-redskins-name-not-slur

    NFL official says Redskins name is 'not a slur'

    An NFL official said Friday that the Washington Redskins' name is not a racial slur, a day after the head of the NFL Players Association said some think it is.
    Adolpho Birch, the NFL's senior vice president of labor policy and government affairs, was asked by "Outside The Lines": "Is the team name a slur, yes or no?"
    "The team name is not a slur," Birch said in a phone interview.
    "The team name is the team name as it has been for 80-plus years," he said. "And what we need to do is get beyond sort of understanding this as a point-blank situation and understand it more as a variety of perspectives that all need to be addressed, that all need to be given some weight, so that at the end of it we can come to some understanding that is appropriate and reflects the opinions of all."
    He added: "I think that is part of the issue with the question is that it is constantly being sort of put into a point-blank, yes-or-no, yes-or-no kind of context when that's not the reality of the situation that we're dealing with."
    NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith on Thursday told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio: "It's an important issue. The name Redskins is offensive to some and is a slur, I'm not sure that this issue boils down to what any particular player has to say -- what it boils down to is the united nation and others have raised a legitimate conversation to the NFL about the name of the team that is entirely within their control."
    Smith told reporters that his conversations with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell on the Redskins name should be private. He did say he has talked with members of the Oneida Indian Nation about their concerns.
    Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has repeatedly said he does not intend to change the name.
    "I would tell you that the Washington Redskins Football Club, the name of that organization is not and never has been intended to be used as a slur and is currently not one as well," Birch said on "OTL."
    After the interview, NFL spokesperson Greg Aiello told ESPN: "The team and our office have always said the name is intended to be positive and respectful. Why would you name a sports team otherwise for 80 years? ... As Adolpho said, our position is the same as it's been."
    Last week, 50 members of the U.S. Senate wrote a letter to Goodell asking that the name be changed.
    U.S. Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia believes the name "is going to go."
    "Four times, the team tried to patent the word 'Redskins,' and four times the patent and trade commission has turned it down," she said Friday on the "Capital Games" podcast. "This name is going to go. My regret is that neither Goodell nor Snyder have taken the kind of leadership we'd expect, particularly in a progressive city like this where a name that is derogatory of any group has no place."


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  2. Chicago_66

    Chicago_66 Veteran

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    I know loads of Natives who find it offensive, I can't imagine some non-Native stepping onto the reservation a mile down the road from my house receiving praises for calling out the locals as redskins. I don't think they'd find it respectful or imagine it to be positive. I've got some Native heritage but not enough to the point I feel like I can weigh in, only like a quarter or less. But I have friends who don't care for the name, find it disrespectful. I'll take their word over what Goodell or Snyder has to say about it.
  3. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    A lot of "acceptable terms" 80 years ago are seen as racist today though
  4. Chicago_66

    Chicago_66 Veteran

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    Exactly Benj, thought that was kind of ridiculous to use the fact it's older as proof that it's acceptable.
  5. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    FWIW

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2005/10/02/AR2005100201139.html

    A Linguist's Alternative History of 'Redskin'

    For many Americans, both Indian and otherwise, the term "redskin" is a grotesque pejorative, a word that for centuries has been used to disparage and humiliate an entire people, but an exhaustive new study released today makes the case that it did not begin as an insult.
    Smithsonian Institution senior linguist Ives Goddard spent seven months researching its history and concluded that "redskin" was first used by Native Americans in the 18th century to distinguish themselves from the white "other" encroaching on their lands and culture.
    When it first appeared as an English expression in the early 1800s, "it came in the most respectful context and at the highest level," Goddard said in an interview. "These are white people and Indians talking together, with the white people trying to ingratiate themselves."
    It was not until July 22, 1815, that "red skin" first appeared in print, he found -- in a news story in the Missouri Gazette on talks between Midwestern Indian tribes and envoys sent by President James Madison to negotiate treaties after the War of 1812.
    The envoys had rebuked the tribes for their reluctance to yield territory claimed by the United States, but the Gazette report suggested that Meskwaki chief Black Thunder was unimpressed: "Restrain your feelings and hear calmly what I say," he told the envoys. "I have never injured you, and innocence can feel no fear. I turn to all red skins and white skins, and challenge an accusation against me."
    Goddard's view, however, does not impress Cheyenne-Muscogee writer Suzan Shown Harjo, lead plaintiff for Native American activists who, for the past 13 years, have sought to cancel trademarks covering the name and logo of the Washington Redskins.
    "I'm very familiar with white men who uphold the judicious speech of white men," Harjo said in a telephone interview. "Europeans were not using high-minded language. [To them] we were only human when it came to territory, land cessions and whose side you were on."
    Goddard, aware of the lawsuit and Harjo's arguments, said that "you could believe everything in my article" and still oppose current public usage of "redskin."
    Evidence cited by Harjo and others has pointed to a much harsher origin for "redskin," but Goddard, a linguist who studies the Algonquian language of northeastern North America, casts doubt on much of it. "While people seem to be happier with the agonistic interpretation of past events," he said, "when you get on the ground, the real story is much more complicated and much more interesting."
    Reporting his findings in the European Review of Native American Studies, Goddard noted that the first appearance of the word was long thought to have occurred in a 1699 letter written by "Samuel Smith," quoted in a 1900 memoir by his descendant, Helen Evertson Smith, titled "Colonial Days & Ways."
    "My father ever declardt there would not be so much to feare iff ye Red Skins was treated with suche mixture of Justice & Authority as they cld understand," the purported letter said. Another part of the letter is quoted in the authoritative Oxford English Dictionary as the etymological origin of "redskin."
    When Goddard studied the letter, however, he concluded it was a fake: "The language was Hollywood. . . . It didn't look like the way people really wrote."


    And it wasn't. In Evertson Smith's papers at the New-York Historical Society, Goddard found a first draft in her handwriting: "My father ever declared there would not be so much to fear if the Indians were treated with such mixture of Justice and authority as they could comprehend," the draft said. "Samuel Smith's" supposed letter, Goddard concluded, was "a work of fiction."
    In fact, the earliest usages of "redskin" that Goddard tracked down were in statements made in 1769 by Illinois tribal chiefs involved in delicate negotiations with the British to switch loyalties away from the French.
    "I shall be pleased to have you come to speak to me yourself," said one statement attributed to a chief named Mosquito. "And if any redskins do you harm, I shall be able to look out for you even at the peril of my life." The French used the phrase " peaux Rouges " -- literally "red skins" -- to translate the chief's words.
    By this time the original colonial designations of "Christian" and "Indian" were giving way to "white," "red" and, with the increase in slave traffic, "black": "Color didn't originate with Indian-white relations but with slavery," said University of Connecticut historian Nancy Shoemaker. "It is slavery that makes color seem to be a way to organize people."
    Like Goddard, Shoemaker said that by the end of the 18th century, Native Americans were using "red" to describe themselves and to assert their pride of being North America's original inhabitants.
    And what had begun 100 years earlier as a reasonably amicable trading exchange, Shoemaker said, during the 1700s evolved into an increasingly tension-filled relationship, as rival European countries intrigued for Indian loyalties and Indians attempted to ward off waves of encroaching settlers.
    Harjo argues that pejorative use of "redskin" grew from the practice of offering bounties to anyone who killed Indians. Bounty hunters "needed proof of kill, but they had a storage problem," she said. "Instead of a body, they accepted the 'redskin' or the genitalia, or scalps."
    But while such bounty proclamations were issued as early as the mid-18th century, Harjo acknowledged that she has not found an early instance of "redskin" in such a context.
    Goddard, who calls Harjo's argument "an unfounded claim," said the first known public use of "redskin" in English occurred on Aug. 22, 1812, in Washington at a meeting between Madison and a group of visiting Indian chiefs.
    Madison, worried about possible alliances between Indian tribes and the enemy British, delivered a long, stylized plea liberally sprinkled with the expressions "red people," "red tribes" and "my red children."
    In response, Little Osage chief Sans Oreilles (No Ears) pledged loyalty despite provocations against his tribe and noted that "I know the manners of the whites and of the red skins." Then Sioux chief French Crow, making much the same argument, said: "I am a red-skin, but what I say is the truth, and notwithstanding I came a long way, I am content, but wish to return from there."
    Records of these exchanges, translated by Indian language interpreters into French and English and transcribed immediately, are included in an installment of the Madison papers published last year.
    Goddard acknowledged it is impossible to know whether the chiefs said "redskin" in their own languages, but interpreters in many contexts and with many tribes in this time period treated the word as an expression that only Indians used. The same is true of "white-skin."
    Three years after the Washington encounter, Black Thunder spoke at Portage des Sioux, and his use of "redskin" made its way into print, as did the words of other chieftains. Once in popular culture, the expression began to lose its ceremonial context -- even as it acquired the connotations that Native Americans have come to loathe.
    An 1871 novel spoke of "redskinned devils." The Rocky Mountain News in 1890 described a war on the whites by "every greasy redskin." The Denver Daily News the same year reported a rebellion by "the most treacherous red skins."
    Daniel Snyder, who owns the Washington NFL franchise, has said the team name will never be changed because "what it means is tradition, what it means is competitiveness, what it means is honor." He said, "It is not meant to be derogatory."
    Papers submitted in the case against the football team documented humiliating movie references by Hollywood icons Eddie Cantor, Bob Hope, John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and others. In "Northwest Passage," Spencer Tracy, as a colonial explorer who hates Indians, importunes a subordinate to "Get a redskin for me, won't you?"

    The final message, Shoemaker suggested, is that "even if the Indians were the first to use it, the origin has no relationship to later use. What happened at the beginning doesn't justify it today."

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  6. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    The N word was "acceptable" back in the 1920s. Imagine a team named that....

    Though there is a soccer team called the AllBlacks.....
  7. little bear

    little bear Assistant Head Coach

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    New Zealand's rugby team is called the AllBlacks. Their soccer team is called the AllWhites. :D
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  8. The Benjamin

    The Benjamin George Halas Staff Member

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    See how little I know? LOL

    Rugby..... they are playing at Soldier soon...... damn, I need to pay more attention to overseas sports LOL
  9. Chicago_66

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    Damn good team too, I'm hoping to go see them. US gonna get stomped but it'll be awesome nonetheless. I think they're the All Blacks because of their uniforms though. I believe that's what someone told me when I was over there.
  10. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    problem is that not all native americans find it offensive; there are tribes that don't have a problem w/it b/c while the name was a slur, how it's represented(proud/iconic) chief as the logo isn't disrespectful at all. I'm certain far more Indians would have a problem w/it if it looked cartoonish.

    The other issue is that redskin as a slur lost it's meaning generations ago, no one today uses redskin in any form other then as the team name. The "n" word is still prevalent today so calling a team that is definately going to rings some bells. Redskins is more along the lines of Hoosiers/Buckeyes where they WERE slurs but aren't anymore. Words meanings change over time that's documented fact, and such is the case w/Redskin.

    I'd really just wish this would go away until a VAST majority of american indians tribes would just put in a petition to the team to change it. Most of this is coming from lib intellectuals and they just won't let it die.
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  11. Jimmors

    Jimmors The Rhymenoceros Staff Member SuperFan

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    Thats a pretty big assumption there backed up by nothing than your opinion. In any case, it IS a slur, and no, people "won't let it die," since the NFL is a global business, and the Redskins are worth over a billion dollars, so yeah...having a racial epitaph as a mascot to represent your franchise and city is a bit troublesome.

    Ill repeat it again, my solution is simple:

    Remove the trademark protection from the Redskins. That way...nobody is "forcing" them to change shit, they can still keep the name if they so choose, but it is no longer a protected trademark. Now that money is involved, see how fast they change it, and the change will have nothing to do with "PC," itll all come down to money.
  12. riczaj01

    riczaj01 DaBears Ditka DBS Writer

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    It's a big up in the air and iyo that it's a slur, if American Indians(the only peoples who's opinions count on this) cannot agree that it's a slur you cannot state definatively that it is or isn't, and sorry a very small vocal minority of said group don't get to decide for the majority.
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