Ramsey: Many Native Americans Despise Revolting Washington Redskins Nickname

By Ramsey, David | The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO), October 24, 2013 | Go to article overview

Ramsey: Many Native Americans Despise Revolting Washington Redskins Nickname


Ramsey, David, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, CO)


As the Washington Redskins prepare to invade our state, I want to make one truth clear:

Throngs of Native Americans are offended by the very idea of a football team calling itself the Redskins. I realize many clueless Americans are convinced the Redskins moniker somehow honors Native Americans. Fox News host Elisabeth Hasselbeck fondly looked back at singing "Hail to the Redskins" along with tens of thousands of other fans.

"I remember nothing but honor," Hasselbeck said Oct. 14.

Michele Companion, a member of the Mohawk Nation and the local Native American community, does not feel honored. She laughed when she considered Hasselbeck's words.

"She's another apologist for a racist system she doesn't understand," Companion said.

"I find the Redskins nickname degrading. I find all the nicknames racist, hurtful, offensive. . The fact that we're still treated like cartoon characters is not a small issue. It's a reflection of how so many people in society actually see us."

Companion, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, realizes several polls claim a majority of Native Americans support the nicknames. Those polls baffle her.

"I've yet to meet any person who self-identified to me as Native American who has come out and said, 'Oh, yeah, I think we should have the Redskins, the Chiefs and the Braves.' I've never met a Native American who supports Native American nicknames," Companion said.

But Daniel Snyder, owner of the Redskins, is an ardent supporter of the nicknames. Snyder is mega-rich. He's also mega-defiant.

"We'll never change the name," Snyder told USA Today earlier this year. "It's that simple. NEVER. You can use caps."

Oh, Danny Boy, I wouldn't be so certain.

In 2006, I wrote a column saying the University of North Dakota needed to dump its Fighting Sioux moniker. Soon, a tidal wave of e- mails crashed into my life with supporters of the moniker delivering a unanimous message:

The Fighting Sioux nickname is forever, they wrote, and you and everyone else who opposes the moniker will just have to live with it.

I knew better. I knew the Fighting Sioux moniker was doomed. …

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