What many people don’t know is that the offensive term “redskin” was originally developed by Native Americans in the 18th century. They used the term to differentiate themselves from the white settlers based on their different skin tones (Gugliotta). There is speculation that the term was later used to refer to the bloody skin removed from a Native American. It goes all the way back to the 19th century when bounty hunters tracked and killed Native Americans for profit. The bounty hunters’ proof of their kill was the scalp of these indigenous people (Gugliotta). Today most people consider this a racial slur for referring to Native Americans. The football team that shares the name of the United States capitol uses this term in their name, “Washington Redskins.” This racial slur is screamed by thousands of fans during every Washington Redskins game.
The Redskins team name has been used to represent the Washington, D.C professional football team since the 1930s. Since 1937, the Redskins band has played the team fight song “Hail to the Redskins” (History By The Decades). The original song utilized racial terms such as “scalp.” The song has since been rewritten, but it continues to reference negative Native American terms such as “Redskins” and “Braves on the Warpath.” Using these terms furthers the historically negative interpretation of Native Americans. Contemporary Native Americans are not on a “war path,” as they have homes and jobs and are as civilized as the rest of American citizens.
Further, the Washington Redskins’ team logo features a stereotypical side profile of a Native American male wearing a feather headdress. The logo illustration is a racist historical depiction of a Native American with dark skin, large nose, black braided hair, and wearing feathers. This figure is within a yellow circle with two additional feathers hanging from the circle. For many Native American tribes, the feather represents bravery, compassion, and accomplishment. In Native American cultures, each feather worn has significance and was earned with honor. It is sacrilegious for these professional football players to wear feathers in context of the Native American imagery referenced on their helmets. These men have not earned the right to wear these symbols that represent honor for another culture. This clearly indicates the cultural negligence that went into creating this logo, a negligence that is perpetuated through its use. Starting shortly after the first European settlers arrived, Native Americans have been oppressed, murdered and treated as inferiors. Creating logos like this trivializes the historical anguish of these people and perpetuates Native American racism.
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