Poll Finds 90 Percent of Native Americans Not Offended by Washington Redskins
The Washington Post polled 504 Native American adults, finding that 90 percent said the Washington Redskins name did not bother them. Only 9 percent said they found the name of the NFL franchise offensive. Just 21 percent said they felt the term redskins was offensive in general, with 17 percent saying they'd be offended if a non-Native American called them a redskin.
A vast majority, 73 percent, said the use of Native American imagery in sports didn't bother them. A majority of respondents said the issue of the Washington Redskins' name wasn't important to them at all, even though three-quarters had heard at least something about it.
The Washington Redskins have been called the Redskins longer than they've been in Washington. They moved to the city from Boston in 1937—but changed their name from the Braves to the Redskins in 1933.
The most recent wave of controversy over the Redskins name started about half a decade ago. In 2013, a report from the National Congress of American Indians explained the organization's opposition to the use of offensive Indian imagery, singling out the Washington Redskins. In 2014, the Redskins lost a series of trademarks related to their team name. The Post's poll this week appears to be the first one to actually survey Native Americans on their opinion since then*.
"Cultural appropriation" has become a hot topic in the renewed political correctness/culture wars. Anything from chanting to dreadlocks to tequila to yoga can be identified as cultural appropriation by the perpetually aggrieved. It's a 21st century academic play on the "white man's burden," with American "activists" taking up the burden of fighting cultural appropriation. Cultural appropriation critiques "reaffirm the very thing they intend to oppose," Minh-ha Phan wrote in The Atlantic, "white Western domination over and exploitation of culture at the expense of everyone else."
While sports commentators who've chimed in on the Washington Redskins naming issue before, like ESPN's Michael Wilbon on Pardon the Interruption yesterday, expressed shock at the results of the Post poll, perhaps it shouldn't have been so surprising. In 2013, ESPN.com's Rick Reilly wrote about the attitudes of actual Native Americans he talked to, and pointed to the numerous majority-Native American high schools that use the Redskins name and Indian mascots for their sports teams.
At the intersection of the issues of Native Americans, race in the U.S. and cultural appropriation: despite the mainstream left police reform movement largely organizing around the mantra "Black Lives Matter," Native Americans are the most likely racial group to be killed by police.
*As noted by commenter Gilmore, a 2004 survey had similar results.