As football fans prepare for Super Bowl Sunday, an American Indian rights group released a video Monday aimed at reigniting debate over use of the name Redskins for the NFL team in Washington, D.C.
The National Congress of American Indians, a Washington-based group, produced a video titled Proud to be, in which it shows footage of various Native American cultures across the country.
“Proud, forgotten, Indian,” the narrator says in the beginning of the video as images of young and older Indian people appear.
“Native Americans call themselves many things. The one thing, they don’t … ” the narrator says toward the end of the two-minute video as a clip of a Washington Redskins helmet appears next to a football.
The group for years has protested the use by professional sports teams of Native American logos or names that it considers racist, according to the National Congress of American Indians. The group has recently targeted the NFL team because some say the term “Redskins” is derogatory toward American Indians.
In October, the group released a report titled “Ending the Legacy of Racism in Sports & the Era of Harmful ‘Indian’ Sports Mascots,” explaining how the NFL team’s name is racist and how it has negatively affected American Indian tribes.
“The use of racist and derogatory ‘Indian’ sports mascots, logos, or symbols, is harmful and perpetuates negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples,” the report says. “Specifically, rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes contribute to a disregard for the personhood of Native peoples. Efforts to end harmful ‘Indian’ mascots are rooted in an attempt to achieve social justice and racial equity across all parts of American society.”
The issue also has sparked debates among some of New Mexico’s tribal members.
Pojoaque Pueblo Gov. George Rivera said Tuesday that he’s not against professional sports teams using Native American mascots, but “Redskins” is not an honorable term to any Indian, he said.
“I think that if they wanted to honor Native Americans, call them by who they are,” he said. “They have names, they have titles … and they don’t need to be called Redskins.”
Officials with the NFL team have said they’ve received support from Native Americans and that the team’s name isn’t meant to be racist but a way to honor American Indian culture.
Rivera said if that’s the case, the team should consider using the name of an actual tribe instead of using a term that’s seen as racist by many Indians.
ReGina Zuni, a former Isleta Pueblo council member, said the campaign to get the NFL team’s name changed is a nonissue. She also describes herself as a big Redskins fan.
“If in fact Daniel Snyder [the team’s owner] changed the name of the Redskins, how will that directly impact people in the Indian Country?” she said. “Instead of focusing on the Redskins, these alleged Indian activists should be focusing on tribal corruption, inadequate housing, unemployment and high-suicide [rates] on the reservation.”
The video, which is posted on the National Congress of American Indians’ YouTube page, has been viewed nearly 14,000 times since it was published Monday. The group also produced a video in November titled Change the Mascot, in which tribal leaders across the country explain why they find the NFL team’s name offensive.
Contact Uriel J. Garcia at 986-3062 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @ujohnnyg.
The National Congress of American Indians, a Washington D.C.-based group, produced a video titled Proud to be, below: