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An Ad You Won't See During the Super Bowl.
February 1, 2014 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Native Americans call themselves many things. (YouTube). An ad you won't see during the big game, "Proud to Be." From changethemascot.org.
posted by spitbull (97 comments total) 42 users marked this as a favorite

 
In 2004, the National Annenberg Election Survey asked 768 people who identified themselves as Indian whether they found the name “Washington Redskins” offensive. Almost 90 percent said it did not bother them.

link

caveats and such at the link.
posted by jpe at 12:37 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]


At first I thought "This is kind of lame, it's just an endless series of adjectives and nouns, and - oh. Ooooooh. Got it."
posted by Tomorrowful at 12:38 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


The Washington Redskins, fighting off campaigns to force them to change their team name, have hired not only comically sleazy Washington lawyer Lanny Davis but also consulted an entire roster of Beltway super-villains.
posted by Drinky Die at 12:42 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


If you let everything that was racist bother you, when you're a person of color, you wouldn't be able to function in society. You have to let a lot of it roll off. That does not make things not racist.
posted by Sequence at 12:47 PM on February 1 [91 favorites]


I was almost sure we had linked the amazing Think Progress piece on this here, but it doesn't come up on a casual search. Feel free to correct me if I missed it.

The Epic Battle to Save the Most Offensive Team Name in Professional Sports

Some really good reporting there.
posted by emjaybee at 12:52 PM on February 1 [10 favorites]


Meant to add, my high school is still called the Warriors, with a chief-in-headdress mascot. Who did "dances" at halftime when I was there (don't know if they still do that). Which is sad, considering it was opened in the early 80s, when they really should have known better. Somewhere I have a leather cord with beads and feathers on it in school colors that you could buy to hang on your rearview mirror.
posted by emjaybee at 12:56 PM on February 1


jpe: "In 2004, the National Annenberg Election Survey asked 768 people who identified themselves as Indian whether they found the name “Washington Redskins” offensive. Almost 90 percent said it did not bother them.
...
caveats and such at the link.
"
-------------------
"But the Indian activist Suzan Shown Harjo, who has filed a lawsuit seeking to strip the “Redskins” trademark from the football team, said the poll neglected to ask some crucial questions.

“Are you a tribal person? What is your nation? What is your tribe? Would you say you are culturally or socially or politically native?” Harjo asked. Those without such connections cannot represent native opinions, she said."

That was precisely my thought. You know how many fucking goddamned white people say "they're native" because some mythic great great great and so on ancestor of theirs was cree or cherokee or something... Just because you say it doesn't make it fucking true.

That also doesn't mean that there aren't natives who live in the Rez and within the Tribal structures who don't support it, as clearly, the article says. But that doesn't mean that "well, hey, at least they're remembering us".

Don't you think, I dunno, if someone called their teams the Memphis Darkies or Jacksonville Negroes or Mississippi Blackskins might just be called out for their shit. I'm all for honoring the warrior aspect of your culture trying to defend your turf against an imperial nation, but to act as if this is somehow a great honor, especially when those very people shit on you when you tell them you feel otherwise, indicates, maybe they don't give two shits about you but would rather make you into a one dimensional caricature.
posted by symbioid at 1:01 PM on February 1 [22 favorites]


I totally did not know that Will Rogers was Cherokee.
posted by Miko at 1:01 PM on February 1 [11 favorites]


Nostalgic for a moment in early-'90s pop culture when Native Americans seemed less invisible and Kevin Costner released an interactive CD-ROM called "500 Nations."
posted by steinsaltz at 1:09 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


“We are listening. We are trying to make sure we understand the issues. Let me remind you: This is the name of a football team, a football team that’s had that name for 80 years and has presented the name in a way that it has honored Native Americans.”

Yeah, Roger Goodell actually said that… yesterday.
posted by prosthezis at 1:19 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


The Spokane Indians (class A team in the Northwest League) actually bothered to consult with the local tribe and now include Salish words on their uniform. If you want to say that you're respecting native culture, some very simple actions can go a long way.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 1:27 PM on February 1 [31 favorites]


That was pretty great.
posted by rtha at 1:30 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


Spokane Indians also don't have any sort of stereotyping mascot or character in their logo. Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins are both pretty problematic in this regard.
posted by hippybear at 1:39 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


The National Congress of American Indians does great awareness campaigns on the issue of racist mascots. I found this poster shockingly effective. What possible rebuttal can there be to that?
posted by Pater Aletheias at 1:40 PM on February 1 [10 favorites]


I've posted this before but it's always a good point-maker: ladies and gentlemen, the Cleveland Caucasians!
posted by spitbull at 1:44 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


You'd think a guy like Dan Snyder, with all of his marketing and media savvy, would understand how much he could stand to make in merchandising if he would make the sensible decision to rebrand the foreskins.
He's a prick, and he's acting like a prick, and all of his 1%er chums are making him feel like he's justified in acting the way he does because he's an american success story and he can do whatever the fuck he wants to do.
What would be awesome would be for someone like Paul Allen, in the wake of the superbowl championship, to announce that he won't allow any public displays of the washington mascot or name in the stadium or in any seahawks printed material out of respect for the native communities here in the northwest and all over the country.
posted by OHenryPacey at 2:14 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


If you let nothing that was racist bother you, when you're NOT a person of color, you are definitely racist yourself, and likely to be very successful in American society.
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:15 PM on February 1 [7 favorites]


I like Andrew Ti's suggestion that they keep their name but change their mascot and branding to a potato. That will solve all the problems.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:18 PM on February 1 [17 favorites]


This is the name of a football team, a football team that’s had that name for 80 years and has presented the name in a way that it has honored Native Americans.”

The first migrations from Asia into the Americans took place at least 15,000 years ago and maybe as long as 40,000 years.
posted by Celsius1414 at 2:22 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


One thing I've noticed in story after story about Native American mascots is that people who defend their use repeatedly defend their intentions. They apparently believe that because they intend no ill effect, their actions have no ill effect. This is almost exactly the argument used by the Cleveland Indians spokesperson to defend Chief Wahoo: "If there is no intent to demean, how can something demean?"

Empirical evidence for the effects of their actions is never, ever mentioned. It exists. It does not cast the use of native mascots in a very favorable light.
"When exposed to Chief Wahoo, Chief Illinwek, Pocahontas, or other common American Indian images, American Indian students generated positive associations (Study 1, high school) but reported depressed state self-esteem (Study 2, high school), and community worth (Study 3, high school), and fewer achievement-related possible selves (Study 4, college)."

Fryberg, S. A.; Markus, H. R., Oyserman, D., & Stone, J. M. (2008). "Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots". Basic and Applied Social Psychology 30 (3): 208–218.


"The purpose of this investigation was to examine if exposure to an American Indian mascot activated American Indian stereotypes in a predominately European American sample. In addition, we explored the role of personal motivation, prejudice level, and experience on stereotype activation. We found that the Chief Wahoo image (i.e., Cleveland Indian's logo) compared to other images activated negative, but not positive, American Indian stereotypes. Participants' motivation to control prejudice, prejudice level, and experience did not predict negative stereotype activation."

Freng, S.; Willis-Esqueda, C. (2011). "A question of honor: Chief Wahoo and American Indian stereotype activation among a university based sample.". Journal of Social Psychology 151 (5): 577–591.


"Two studies examined the effect of exposure to an American Indian sports mascot on the stereotype endorsement of a different minority group. Study 1 used an unobtrusive prime, while Study 2 used a more engaged prime. Study 2 also investigated the effect among those unfamiliar with the controversy regarding American Indian sports mascots. Results from both studies show that participants primed with an American Indian sports mascot increased their stereotyping of a different ethnic minority group."

Kim-Prieto, Chu; Goldstein, Lizabeth A.; Okazaki, Sumie; Kirschner, Blake (March 2010). "Effect of Exposure to an American Indian Mascot on the Tendency to Stereotype a Different Minority Group". Journal of Applied Social Psychology 40 (3): 534–553.

The debate needs to shift from "defend your intent" to "defend the effects of your actions".
posted by compartment at 2:26 PM on February 1 [45 favorites]


It's an OK ad but it needs to be shorter and punchier. Many of the names mentioned are themselves used as racist stereotypes (Hiawatha, Geronimo) so they really confuse the message. And there's way too much warlike imagery. It would be more convincing if it just had 10-15 tribal names, without the historical figures and complicated associations.
posted by miyabo at 2:33 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


I've had a remark running in my head whenever I think of them: "The Washington Niggers, er, Redskins?" However, a.) being a white guy myself and b.) the ignorance of the people who tend to defend this makes me think this would simply sidetrack the conversation instead of advancing it.

I can't completely take credit for the idea. I'm pretty sure it was inspired by CSA.
posted by Hactar at 2:36 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


miyabo, the historical figures and complicated associations were the point. There are a lot of conflicting and complicated ideas and traditions among the Native Tribes and Nations; some think the word "Eskimo" is a slur, for example, whereas others embrace it. Geronimo and Hiawatha were actual people, not cartoonish racist inventions, and whether their names are used for racist purposes or not, they are themselves part of the American heritage in general and Native culture specifically.

The thrust of the ad is that, despite these complicated facts about Native identity, there is one thing that Natives have generally united against: the misappropriation of their culture as a cartoon figurehead for a football team. No tribe has ever self-identified with the term "redskin," and no tribe would be comfortable with that label being generally applied to it.
posted by koeselitz at 2:48 PM on February 1 [13 favorites]


Those who missed it the first time around might like this post from November, about an artist who's traveling around documenting the lives of the people who make up the registered tribes in the US. It's a pretty awesome project, and she's got a kickstarter going now, too.
posted by rtha at 2:58 PM on February 1 [6 favorites]


Sorry, forgot to paste this in, from her kickstarter page:

Imagine walking through an exhibit and realizing the complex variety of contemporary Native America. Imagine experiencing a website or book, that offered insight into every Tribal Nation in the United States. What if you could download previously untold histories and stories from Apaches, Swinomish, Hualapai, Northern Cheyenne, Tlingit, Pomo, Lumbee, and other first peoples? What if you had heard those stories in grade school?
posted by rtha at 3:00 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


Great ad, and thanks to emjaybee for linking to the article for added context. I love that there's teenagers petitioning their schools to remove racist mascots and team names.
posted by Georgina at 3:32 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


Very powerful ad...punched me in the gut...but then completely trumped by jpe's post.

Apparently 'Redskins' bothers white liberals...but not American Indians...

It wouldn't bother me if a team called itself the Ozark Hillbillies... The best judges here are the people who are allegedly harmed.

But instead we get:

Indian support for the name “is really a classic case of internalized oppression,” Harjo said.

Ah, the "false consciousness" ploy... If you disagree with the lefty orthodoxy, you are deluded.

If you really care about people, e.g. American Indians, then you care what they think about their own lives and dignity. You don't try to impose your own crackpot theories on them.
posted by Fists O'Fury at 3:43 PM on February 1


My high school were the Custer Indians (yes Custer Indians, but not that Custer). I think it's Barack Obama School now. I don't even want to guess as to what the mascot might be.
posted by MikeMc at 3:43 PM on February 1


I was thinking about this the other day, the Seahawks are the only professional sports franchise I can think of that includes non-disparaging Native American imagery in their branding. I might be wrong.

broncos suck!
posted by Random Person at 3:45 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]


I think it's Barack Obama School now. I don't even want to guess as to what the mascot might be.

Someone in my fostering organisation is trying to rehome a chocolate lab named... you guessed it... Obama. People continue to drive me to despair.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:48 PM on February 1


If you really care about people, e.g. American Indians, then you care what they think about their own lives and dignity. You don't try to impose your own crackpot theories on them.

I'm entirely unsure about the tone of your comment here, but perhaps we can let Native Americans speak for themselves. They hold a national talking circle on radio every day. Here is a sample of the programs they have devoted to this topic in 2013. You can hear their voices and judge for yourself. (direct mp3 links)

Jan 17, 2013 "The Redskins Name -- Should It Stay Or Go?"

Oct 17, 2013 "Spotlight On Mascots"
posted by hippybear at 3:57 PM on February 1 [9 favorites]


WI Governor Walker changed the law to make it nearly impossible to force offensive mascot names to be changed.

It's enough to make me want to start a school and name the mascot "Racist Republican Bigots".
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 3:58 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]


Fists O'Fury: "Very powerful ad...punched me in the gut...but then completely trumped by jpe's post."

If you'd read the article, you'd have seen that it clearly says that the part he quoted was probably incorrect ("many question the cultural credentials of the respondents"). Besides, it's a fucking stupid thing to have a survey of. Have you surveyed gay people yet? What do they think of the word "fag"? How about black people - is the n word okay? When can I start using these words in everyday conversation and making sports teams that use caricatures of these folks as mascots?

It honestly disgusts me to hear this bullshit. Yes, I am disgusted. I am a white person. You can call me a "white liberal" if you want. But I remember. "Kill and scalp all, big and little, nits make lice" - remember? The dulcet strains of my people, my foreparents, white folks just like us, rising up and straining to commit genocide. And a few decades later, you have the sheer audacity and gall to tell me that, because I remember what my people did back then, because I demand that other white folks like myself shut the fuck up for a moment and maybe choose a slightly less offensive mascot for their team, I am thereby a "white liberal" wringing my hands as a personal hobby?

I won't tell you to fuck off. That would be crude. But I do think you should step away from the keyboard, crack a book or two, and educate yourself about what you're talking about. Because you're saying things that any sane and decent person ought to be ashamed to say.
posted by koeselitz at 4:07 PM on February 1 [34 favorites]


So, Fists O' Fury, since this FPP links to a video by Native Americans who object to the name, it's clear that some are offended. How does that fit in your calculations? What percentage of Native Americans need to object before you think their objects "count?" Or is it "one drop of support" makes it OK?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:08 PM on February 1 [6 favorites]


then completely trumped by jpe's post

Fists O'Fury, you should watch this video. In it, sports reporter Mike Wise recounts a discussion he had with the former head of the group that did the poll. He asks if it is accurate. The response that he gets is not a direct answer to his question, but instead asks (paraphrasing here), "Suppose you had a party, and nine out of the ten people who came had a great time. But one person was incredibly offended. Offended to the point that it was making other people uncomfortable. Are you really a social success?"

Beyond that, there are conflicting poll results. The Annenberg poll, which reports 90% support among Native Americans, relied on poll respondents honestly self-identifying as Native American. Another poll conducted by Indian Country Today Media Network found that 81% of respondents found the name "Redskins" was offensive.

You don't try to impose your own crackpot theories on them.

I want to refer you to the empirical evidence I linked above, and ask you to reconsider who is imposing what on whom.
posted by compartment at 4:13 PM on February 1 [11 favorites]


Indian support for the name “is really a classic case of internalized oppression,” Harjo said.

Ah, the "false consciousness" ploy... If you disagree with the lefty orthodoxy, you are deluded.

If you really care about people, e.g. American Indians, then you care what they think about their own lives and dignity. You don't try to impose your own crackpot theories on them.


Of Warrior Chiefs and Indian Princesses: The Psychological Consequences of American Indian Mascots (PDF)
Although pro-mascot advocates suggest that American Indian mascots are complimentary and honorific and should enhance well-being, the research presented here runs contrary to this position. American Indian mascots do not have negative consequences because their content or meaning is inherently negative. Rather, American Indian mascots have negative consequences because, in the contexts in which they appear, there are relatively few alternate characterizations of American Indians. The current American Indian mascot representations function as inordinately powerful communicators, to natives and nonnatives alike, of how American Indians should look and behave. American Indian mascots thus remind American Indians of the limited ways in which others see them. Moreover, because identity construction is not solely an individual process (i.e., you cannot be a self by yourself), the views of American Indians held by others can also limit the ways in which American Indians see themselves.

The research presented here also underscores the role of social representations in the identity construction and maintenance process. Representations of one’s social group can be incorporated or resisted, but it is difficult, if not impossible, to think about one’s self without contending with these social representations (Oyserman & Markus, 1993). The only way to reduce the negative impact of these constraining American Indian mascot representations is to either eliminate them or to create, distribute, and institutionalize a broader array of social representations of American Indians. The latter option would communicate to both natives and nonnatives that, beyond the historically constituted roles as Indian princesses and warrior chiefs, there exist other viable and desirable ways to be American Indian in contemporary mainstream society.
posted by zombieflanders at 4:21 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


You might trust that 2004 was a long time ago. Most Native people I know (which is, frankly, a whole lot of people) would be offended by "redskins" today. Almost any Native person I've ever discussed this with finds the term derogatory and the team name offensive, explicitly.


Consciousness of this issue has been sharply raised throughout Indian Country in the ensuing decade.
posted by spitbull at 4:25 PM on February 1 [6 favorites]


And the ad was made by Indians, not "white liberals."
posted by spitbull at 4:26 PM on February 1 [17 favorites]


I've noticed how far MeFites who don't want to hear about racism will go to defend their "right" to use a particular term. In a couple of the "we are Romani" threads, there were posters saying "no one says not to use it" when Romani-identified MeFites were asking just that in that thread. It's kind of maddening.

Yeah, I am sure that there are plenty of Native Americans who don't care about the issue or really would prefer people put their energy behind "more significant" issues (you can even hear some of them in hippybear's links). But, you know, there are plenty of gays and lesbians who don't really care about marriage equality or really would prefer people put their energy behind "more significant" issues, but would you use that to argume against marriage equality?
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:29 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


>I've had a remark running in my head whenever I think of them: "The Washington Niggers, er, Redskins?" However, a.) being a white guy myself and b.) the ignorance of the people who tend to defend this makes me think this would simply sidetrack the conversation instead of advancing it.

>I can't completely take credit for the idea. I'm pretty sure it was inspired by CSA.


Credit where credit is due, Chris Rock made the comparison on SNL in 1990:
'Washington Redskins, that's not nice! That's a racial slur! That's kind of like having the New York Niggers, okay?'
posted by riruro at 4:31 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]


WI Governor Walker changed the law to make it nearly impossible to force offensive mascot names to be changed.

And, of course, the JSOnline comments section delivers:

Thank you Scott Walker. You have brought a little bit of sanity back to this little corner of the world. Pound sand minority liberals!!!!
posted by MikeMc at 4:32 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


There is a huge group of people who have (or think they have) some Indian ancestry, but for all practical purposes enjoy the benefits of being white. There is a much smaller group of people who appear Indian, whose ancestors in the recent past suffered organized persecution and even murder, who have very limited access to health care and education, and who are still by far the poorest group of people in the US. I would expect people in the latter group to have stronger negative opinions about the Redskins name, but there are fewer of them, and they are harder to reach in a poll.
posted by miyabo at 4:33 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]


I saw a stranger (friend of a friend, I suppose) say on Facebook today that this was "a situation with many sides." Because I didn't want to start a fight with a stranger and put a friend in the middle of it, I only responded that I cheer for this team and that they need to change their name immediately.

In truth I wanted to ask her what possible sides there are aside from "change the patently offensive name" and "I don't wanna."
posted by Navelgazer at 4:34 PM on February 1 [6 favorites]


Also, the next time Roger Goodell says that they're exploring the issue but they've got to respect the decades of history and blah blah equivocating fucking blah, I want the next question to be about his plan to get rid of the P.A.T. If it's easier to change that than the name of one of the 32 teams, it's kind of proof positive that he's full of shit.
posted by Navelgazer at 4:37 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


It only gravely offends some people is a pretty weak defense.
posted by Apropos of Something at 4:41 PM on February 1 [9 favorites]


Also, the next time Roger Goodell says that they're exploring the issue but they've got to respect the decades of history and blah blah equivocating fucking blah

..wouldn't just be better to ask him how he respects the centuries of attempted genocide? That ought to be worth a laugh.

I think the team should just have to pay a licensing fee equal to their gross yearly profit. That would probably make the issue clearer for them. And it would enrich native americans, which wouldn't hurt, either.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:46 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]


Those who missed it the first time around might like this post from November

That is SO good. Glad you re-linked it. It washed a lot of the bad taste from the sports debate out of my mouth.
posted by Miko at 5:15 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]


It only gravely offends some people is a pretty weak defense.

Pretty much. That defense is just one of a host of familiar, disgusting rationalizations of racist behavior repeated throughout the history of this country.

Combine this with the kneejerk, persecution-complex reactions from many commentators who feel changing the mascot is somehow an affront to their First Amendment rights, and it gets pretty tiresome.
posted by Room 101 at 5:26 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]


I want to note re: the mixed message of having a lot of different names, some of which have mixed connotations in different tribes or other groups, that it says that these are different things Native Americans call themselves, not things white people can call Native Americans indiscriminately without context or thought.
posted by NoraReed at 5:56 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


The Washington White Liberals! The Fightin' Libbies, with mascot Whitey, the Bleedin' Heart who Bleeds White Guilt!
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:09 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


So, Fists O' Fury, since this FPP links to a video by Native Americans who object to the name, it's clear that some are offended. How does that fit in your calculations? What percentage of Native Americans need to object before you think their objects "count?"

While I believe the majority of American Indians are indeed against the name, I do think it necessary to obtain some consensus or look for some minimum amount of support in matters such as this, not that proposing any hard threshold would seem particularly useful - otherwise, given the amplifying power of the Internet, I can probably find someone with a legit claim on any identity who supports or opposes any given cause. There is also the issue of who is allowed to validly claim offense in which situations...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 6:13 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


When someone can look at the results of one poll of dubious sampling and design and can decide that it necessarily closes the door on any further discussion involving a very large and diverse set of peoples, I can only think that what we (collectively) need is more and more and more education about those peoples BY those peoples. Like what Makita Wilbur is doing.

I would bet money that if a poll of people who share Fists racial and ethnic background showed that that set showed something he didn't believe or disagreed with, he would rightly object to anyone telling him that the debate was now closed and to please be quiet and go away.
posted by rtha at 6:26 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]


Great ad.

This isn't like any other situation. This is a unique situation. This isn't a slippery slope. It's a single decision that can be made by a single team owner that won't lead to animal right activists requiring the broncos to become the bongos or some dumb analogy like that. This is just an old obviously racist name that people don't want to change because either A. They hate change or B. They hate being told what to do.

Change the stupid name. Dot org.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:34 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


Or C. they like to be racist
posted by NoraReed at 6:44 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


What would be awesome would be for someone like Paul Allen, in the wake of the superbowl championship, to announce that he won't allow any public displays of the washington mascot or name in the stadium or in any seahawks printed material out of respect for the native communities here in the northwest and all over the country.

The Seahawks had their own little cultural-insensitivity learning moment this past week. Nothing on the scale of the R***ns of course.
posted by Rumple at 6:49 PM on February 1


Seahawk cultural insensitivity: the museum wagered a mask on the game's outcome without consulting the community of the mask's creator. I was amused by the end of the anecdote:

The friendly wager is still on, however.

The Seattle museum said if the Seahawks lose it will send Denver a six-panelled Japanese screen from 1901, depicting a powerful eagle with outstretched wings.


This reminds me of last Halloween - my friend and I were half-assing costumes out of a closet with some random costume stuff he had. He pulled out a sombrero, puts it on, and says "How 'bout I just go out like this." I informed him that was most definitely racist, and he wore a cowboy hat instead. (Look, Metafilter, I accomplished a social justice!) At the bar, we saw a couple in a full Oktoberfest leiderhosen getup, and he says to me, "Aren't they racist too?" I thought on this and conjectured that it was actually practically and maybe even theoretically impossible to be racist against a German, so they were in the clear and in fact engaging in insightful cultural commentary.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:04 PM on February 1


Yeah, I should qualify that the it seems the museum got caught up in the hype and it's not the actual football organization that was involved.

The museum did get its publicity though, at least north of the border.
posted by Rumple at 7:08 PM on February 1


There is a huge group of people who have (or think they have) some Indian ancestry, but for all practical purposes enjoy the benefits of being white.

To say nothing of the fact that the white person who claims that their great grandmother was a Cherokee Princess is so common as to be itself a stereotype (and a source of some hilarity to Native Americans of my acquaintance).

If i might hazard a huge overgeneralization from mere personal observation, it seems very much to me that there's rather a large swathe of America which has an inverse correlation between claiming Native American ancestry and actually having any understanding of or empathy with actual Native Americans.
posted by George_Spiggott at 7:15 PM on February 1 [3 favorites]


The thing is, there may be lots of white folks with Indian ancestry; but that ancestry is quite probably tangled into a story of abusive relationships and coercion. I mean, yes, maybe your great great grandpappy had a uniquely loving and equitable relationship with an Indian woman, but lots of white men did not.

My grandfather grew up in Oklahoma. There are no pictures of my grandfather's parents. My grandfather and his brothers had facial features that made them look more than a little Indian. But there's almost no information to go on; his father had six kids with my great-grandmother and then he disappeared, leaving his family destitute. My grandfather came south and never mentioned any Indian blood, but then in Texas, he wouldn't. So..maybe there is Indian blood in my family but it was hushed up out of shame and racism. If there is, no doubt my great-grandfather and/or great-grandmother had hard and difficult lives because of who they were and where they lived. No doubt their kids would not want to talk about it.

And even if I could prove that were the case, I think I would need to acknowledge that my white blood counts against me much more than any Indian blood would count for me, in terms of feeling like I have the right to speak to Indian issues. I don't get to be white for all intents and purposes because it benefits me and then play Indian when I want to feel righteous and put-upon, even if I do turn out to have a slight genetic claim.
posted by emjaybee at 7:50 PM on February 1 [5 favorites]


I went to high school in Oklahoma, where half the white kids running around have legitimate (like, registered) Native American ancestry, and the culture in the state itself is both very respectful of the tribes and very cognizant of the troubled history there, particularly in Oklahoma.

(On a side note, the current Oklahoma license plates feature the slogan "Native America," which has been on there for a while, but also an image of an Indian readying his bow to fire, which is nicely done but also feels like something out of a D&D Sourcebook. It's weird. The flag is ugly as hell by most design metics for that sort of thing, but uses specific aspects of Chocktaw and Osage traditions.)

So it's upsetting for urban, liberal me to see Washington, DC unable to understand respect for native peoples the way that uber-red-state Oklahoma can. Also, the name "Redskins" is racist on its face. It is literally the laziest reduction of a diverse group of many, many peoples into a single racial characteristic. Very little is gained here by posing the question as "what does our sample group of Native Americans think? Are white liberals just getting offended on behalf of others?" Because I can find it offensive on its merits without needing to patronize anybody with my white liberal protections of their sensibilities. I, myself don't want my country's culture to just blow off that sort of thing. It's bad for all of us.
posted by Navelgazer at 8:37 PM on February 1 [4 favorites]


The Annenberg poll, which reports 90% support among Native Americans, relied on poll respondents honestly self-identifying as Native American.

"I'm 1/32 Cherokee" is right up there with "Some of my best friends are black" on the white person's oh-shit-I-just-said-something-racist cheat sheet.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 9:05 PM on February 1 [6 favorites]


It might be possible though that there are some mostly-white Americans, living in white society who are mixed blood, and do know & understand the native part of their heritage, and some of the remarks in this thread might seem really dismissive and condescending to those people.
posted by Devils Rancher at 9:39 PM on February 1 [2 favorites]


In 2004, the National Annenberg Election Survey asked...

I'm pretty sure if you looked at surveys from 2004 on same-sex marriage or legalization of marijuana the results would be different than if you took surveys today.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:53 PM on February 1 [1 favorite]


in the early eighties i was hitching a ride from hibbing,minn to grand rapids. a native american was just in front of me. i suggested we thumb together and he told me that "skins" and whites don't commonly do this together and explained the racist tensions against his people .wegot a ride and that was that. i think he either thought i was nuts or naive,but i just saw him as another guy looking to bum a ride.i'm born and raised in a small southern new hampshire town and honestly hadn't had any significant encounters with other races and those i did have were positive.i once helped a young black gal lace her ice skates and was later thanked by her older brother who was supposed to be a "bad actor"not sure what this means in the context of the red skins issue but if you take people as they come you'll find that they're either assholes or not.respectfully submitted
posted by fittipaldi at 4:44 AM on February 2


While I believe the majority of American Indians are indeed against the name, I do think it necessary to obtain some consensus or look for some minimum amount of support in matters such as this, not that proposing any hard threshold would seem particularly useful

You do realize how incredibly convenient that sounds for you, right? You get to say, "Well, it's not a big consensus," and no one gets to reply, "So how 'big' do you want?"

You're not just moving the goalposts -- you're declaring that the goalposts are only visible to you, and you'll tell people whether they reached them after the kick.
posted by Etrigan at 7:25 AM on February 2 [6 favorites]


Having lived in the DC area, I know how deep the antipathy for Dan Snyder goes ("Love My Team, Hate the Owner" is a common bumper sticker). All ChangeTheMascot has to do to win support locally is convince DC natives that changing the mascot will piss off Dan Snyder.
posted by jonp72 at 7:47 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Etrigan: " You do realize how incredibly convenient that sounds for you, right? You get to say, "Well, it's not a big consensus," and no one gets to reply, "So how 'big' do you want?""

The NCAI exists to represent Native Americans on these matters (among other things) and they've made their position clear with this video. Given the many problems of polling on this issue that have been mentioned above, why is there a need to reach a given threshold in an opinion poll? Would we demand the same if the NAACP, the NCLR, or the ADL came to the conclusion that something was offensive to African Americans, Latinos, or Jews?

We don't generally let citizens write laws based on referenda in this country -- instead, we favor a system of elected representatives whose job it is to understand the issues and vote in ways that may or may not line up with the results of sampling the public. This same dynamic exists with representation of minority groups in policy debates. It seems to me the people at the NCAI are in a better position to understand the impact of the team name on Native American culture than the average self-identified Native American is.
posted by tonycpsu at 8:54 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


You do realize how incredibly convenient that sounds for you, right? You get to say, "Well, it's not a big consensus," and no one gets to reply, "So how 'big' do you want?"

My lack of specific thresholds is in the interest of a nuanced qualitative approach, rather than one where we say 25% of Group X must be offended and reject the sincere complaints of 24%. We could consider the weight of sentiment, for example - perhaps 5% of a group feeling deeply offended is more important than 25% feeling mildly bemused.

Recently there has been a trend in discussion of cultural appropriate for internet SJ advocates to defend South Asians against Western appropriation of the Sari and the Bindi. As best as I can tell the overwhelming majority of South Asians feel neutrally or positively about straightforward (non-caricature) use of these by Westerners so we end up mostly with clueless American SJWs telling Indians how to be Indian. Some of these Indians seem to view the anti-appropriation stuff as cutting Indians off from a cultural conversation.

However, I do think they've gotten 1 or 2 actual South Asians to join in. But you can find 1 or 2 Internet commenters who will sign on to ANYTHING...
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 9:36 AM on February 2


But you can find 1 or 2 Internet commenters who will sign on to ANYTHING...

Like the idea that naming a professional sports team a word that no Caucasian person would say out loud in a bar full of Native Americans is somehow not offensive?
posted by Etrigan at 9:48 AM on February 2 [8 favorites]


If 100% of registered members of tribes in the U.S. said "Change the name!" Dan Snyder could still go ahead and be an asshole and not change the name. I suspect that is exactly what he would do, because he's an asshole. So positing that there must be some vague, unquantifiable consensus in this instance before the name can be changed seems pointless. What other ethnic groups decide or how they discuss potentially offensive appropriations of their cultural markers is neither here nor there regarding changing the name of the Washington Redskins - it is not required that South Asians or Iraqi women use the same approach or numbers or whatever that a totally different group in a different context with a different history uses to decide their threshold of offensive vs not offensive.
posted by rtha at 9:54 AM on February 2 [1 favorite]


My lack of specific thresholds is in the interest of a nuanced qualitative approach, rather than one where we say 25% of Group X must be offended and reject the sincere complaints of 24%. We could consider the weight of sentiment, for example - perhaps 5% of a group feeling deeply offended is more important than 25% feeling mildly bemused.

Then it seems odd that you're totally OK with a decade-old study that makes hardly any effort to accurately measure either breadth or width, but yet subsequent studies and multiple concerns from native advocacy groups (including the subject of the FPP) are merely the concerns of clueless non-native advocates.

However, I do think they've gotten 1 or 2 actual South Asians to join in. But you can find 1 or 2 Internet commenters who will sign on to ANYTHING...

Even assuming your assertion is true (I'm personally doubtful that it happened as you describe), this situation isn't remotely similar. If it was, we'd be talking about the Washington Wogs/Towelheads/etc, and it wouldn't be 1 or 2 internet commentors, it would be large numbers of Americans of SE Asian descent and many advocacy groups making a ruckus.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:17 AM on February 2 [4 favorites]


I think the team should just have to pay a licensing fee equal to their gross yearly profit.

Oh, that's a bit too much. How about 1/2 the profit for each year they continue to use the name, and retroactive payment of 1/2 a year's profit for every year they've used it prior?

I can get behind that.

Hit them in the monies.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:38 AM on February 2 [2 favorites]


I am basically certain a majority of enrolled tribal members in the US do support the retirement of the team name. I read the Native American media extensively, visit numerous Native communities regularly, am closely bonded with one due to 8 years of spending 2-3 months per year there, and interact on a daily basis with Native American colleagues, activists, and students. My sample perhaps leans progressive, but includes Native associates and friends of widely differing political views (and some crazy intense football fans, although basketball is the preferred sport of Native America for sure).

I would never use the word "redskin" casually with any of these folks. It would immediately be heard as a slur by virtually all my Native associates. Many vocally support the renaming of the team as an obvious requirement. This word is as bad as the "n" word and don't you ever tell me otherwise unless you can claim a larger sample of Native opinion in your own firsthand experience.

By the way, opinion polling on the Rez is notoriously inaccurate for both pragmatic (a lot of homes have no phones) and cultural (a lot of Native Americans are very circumspect about sharing strong opinions with strangers) reasons. This is in addition to the absurdity of considering, say, Elizabeth Warren's opinion to represent "Native America" as well as anyone living in Pine Ridge or Anaktuvak Pass.

So the first comment in this thread by jpe is basically a derail. If I had posted something celebrating the latest same sex marriage victory and comment one said (which is true) "a significant majority of Americans oppose(d) SSM ....(in a 2004 survey with serious methodological flaws)" .... it would have been deleted by a mod just like "is this something I have like TV to understand?" Or "sorry this band sucks."

Jpe's first comment has thus teed up a complete straw man derail throughout this thread. That 2004 poll is ancient, irrelevant special pleading. This ad was made by Indians representing a widespread, majority consensus among actual enrolled tribal members. This is what actual Indians -- many and likely most -- think. I don't need a poll to know that,


I have said it before, but I believe progressive Americans (like most mefites) tolerate a lower standard concerning anti-Native bigotry than for other kinds. We get into arguments about spaces and hyphens when the subject is sexual or gender identity, but there are still voices calling to preserve a racist slur against Indians as no big deal unless a poll shows unanimous consensus.

It's a bigoted slur. Used as a team name. To make a profit.

What is complicated about it?
posted by spitbull at 10:46 AM on February 2 [16 favorites]


Then it seems odd that you're totally OK with a decade-old study that makes hardly any effort to accurately measure either breadth or width, but yet subsequent studies and multiple concerns from native advocacy groups (including the subject of the FPP) are merely the concerns of clueless non-native advocates.

Oh I think that specific study is quite full of shit. If it wasn't, though, I think at 90% would definitely start questioning the moral duty to change the name.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 1:04 PM on February 2


I was almost sure we had linked the amazing Think Progress piece on this here, but it doesn't come up on a casual search. Feel free to correct me if I missed it.

It was posted late in another thread, so you were right to post it again here.
posted by homunculus at 4:51 PM on February 2 [2 favorites]


Many native American tribes get together to pray and dance on Alcatraz Island on Thanksgiving morning. It would be awesome to edit some footage into this video.
posted by runforrest79 at 7:08 PM on February 2


jpe: "In 2004, the National Annenberg Election Survey asked 768 people who identified themselves as Indian whether they found the name “Washington Redskins” offensive. Almost 90 percent said it did not bother them."

Over 10 percent said it did bother them.

Fists O'Fury: "Ah, the "false consciousness" ploy... If you disagree with the lefty orthodoxy, you are deluded."

Great. Not only do you not give a damn about the opinions of over 10% of the Native Americans surveyed, to you they are just deluded suckers.

That's revolting.
posted by IAmBroom at 3:15 PM on February 3 [2 favorites]


Devils Rancher: "It might be possible though that there are some mostly-white Americans, living in white society who are mixed blood, and do know & understand the native part of their heritage, and some of the remarks in this thread might seem really dismissive and condescending to those people."

Which ones? There are no comments saying that no people who are of mixed blood understand the issue, or all people of mixed blood are tone-deaf, or anything of that kind.

You've managed to generate faux-outrage on behalf of the partly-Native-American (mostly-white) "minority" over comments that don't exist.

That's not even on the racist bingo sheet - is that a bazinga or something?
posted by IAmBroom at 3:23 PM on February 3


An update:

Adrienne K. at Native Appropriations has blogged this video now. (She writes the best blog on the broader topic of Native American cultural representations, highly recommended).

So far only about 15 comments but they're thoughtful, as is typical of that blog community.
posted by spitbull at 5:23 PM on February 4 [3 favorites]


Wow, thanks for the intro to that blog - in just the post you linked, she said all the things I'd been kind of wondering about but not able to articulate. Bookmarked!
posted by rtha at 6:09 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


My pleasure. Yeah, it's worth following even if you only gave a limited interest in Native issues. It's an opinion maker/leader in the broader activist community, which is just vibrant with young talent right now.
posted by spitbull at 6:37 PM on February 4


I especially like the point that all the historic figures in the ad are male, when there are so many women to choose from. I'm surprised metafilter didn't spot that. the rest of her critique is spot on, and combined with proper respect for the broader effort entailed.
posted by spitbull at 6:45 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


w/r/t why didn't people complain about that - I basically don't think my opinion is worth much in regards to an effort like that, but I was chagrined that it was so male, but also surprised at how "tradish"/historicist the ad was. I thought it would head more in the contemporary, stereotype-overturning direction, and it did a little, but it seemed also to be seeking to push familiar American buttons. Which is all cool. Again, this is a case where sometimes I think it's better to check my opinions about "this is how you SHOULD do it" because there's certainly been enough of that already.
posted by Miko at 7:14 PM on February 4 [1 favorite]


(I include myself in "Metafilter" not "spotting" that!)
posted by spitbull at 7:49 PM on February 4


Adrienne K. at Native Appropriations has blogged this video now.

She's young & brash & great, and I like her writing a bunch. She can find the right angle to an issue pretty well.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:46 PM on February 4 [2 favorites]


Young and brash Native activists are all around me these days, full of a drive and sense of purpose and ability I have never seen so strong and focused before -- it's one reason I say 2004 is a long time ago, although 1491 is also not that long ago from a more Native perspective.

It's hard to know where to start -- the Native hip hop and film and literature scenes are bursting with talent and vision (and global indigenous collaboration), the Native web is on fire (social networking adapts beautifully to traditional kinship structures and amplifies their power, I know a ton of elders who tear up Facebook every bit as brilliantly as their kids). Indigenous scholar/activists are changing the face of Native studies in the academy.

This revitalization of Native youth culture and activism deserves an FPP I will try to create one of these fine days. Until then, I give you one of my favorite points of entry, ladies and gentlemen, The 1491s! (These cats deserve their own FPP too.)
posted by spitbull at 6:34 AM on February 5 [3 favorites]


And here is righteous Detroit-based Anishnabe/Xicano mc/rapper/producer/activist Sacramento Knoxx.
posted by spitbull at 8:45 AM on February 5


And the compelling Choctaw singer/songwriter Samantha Crain.
posted by spitbull at 8:48 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


This revitalization of Native youth culture and activism deserves an FPP I will try to create one of these fine days.

Yeah, that would be awesome. Include Nick Galanin please!
posted by Miko at 9:27 AM on February 5 [1 favorite]


Galanin is incredible - his "Raven and the First Immigrants" really turns NW Coast art on its head (self link)

Another young First Nations guy is Sonny Assu (e.g.), he's an artist-warrior in Jennifer Kramer's sense. (see "Enjoy Coast Salish Territory")

The #IdleNoMore movement is really youth driven and is one of the few worthwhile, sustained things I have seen come from, or be enabled through, twitter.
posted by Rumple at 2:26 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


This revitalization of Native youth culture and activism deserves an FPP I will try to create one of these fine days. Until then, I give you one of my favorite points of entry, ladies and gentlemen, The 1491s! (These cats deserve their own FPP too.)

Coilhouse ran a series of posts about a year and a half ago on modern native art and culture, including the 1491s:

Better than Coffee: Nakotah LaRance

Syncretize, Decolonize: First Nations Find a Voice Through Urban Music and Dance

The 1491s: Bastard Children of Manifest Destiny

Indie Indigenous: Virgil Ortiz and the Changing Face of Native Art

And filthy light thief made a great post about Ortiz a few months ago:

Virgil Ortiz, bringing Native New Mexico design into the future
posted by homunculus at 2:47 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Awesome and I think I missed them all!

Really glad to see the way this thread is winding down better than it started!
posted by spitbull at 4:07 PM on February 5 [2 favorites]


Oh Pat Pruitt too.
posted by Miko at 4:19 PM on February 5 [1 favorite]


I'll just add Beat Nation here as well (samples), since the interest is in music - not sure how well known it is, sometimes Canadian things can get lost in the shuffle. For visual artists out here, lessLIE and especially Marianne Nicholson are two other highly political artists from the west coast.
posted by Rumple at 7:51 PM on February 5 [3 favorites]


Members Of Congress Urge NFL Commissioner To Change Washington Football Team's Name
In a letter from two members of Congress—Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) and Rep. Tom Cole (R-Oklahoma)—that's expected to be sent today to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, they urge him to support changing the team's name, saying that they might reconsider the league's tax-exempt status if they don't, the New York Times reports.

"For you to pretend to that the name is defensible on decade-old public opinion polling flies in the face of our constitutionally protected government-to-government relationship with tribes," writes Cantwell and Cole. Currently, Cantwell sits as chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee while Cole is a member of the Native American Caucus. The letter specifically cites a pre-Super Bowl press conference where Goodell defended the team's name as honoring Native Americans.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:08 AM on February 10


7 First Nation Rappers Crushing Stereotypes of Indigenous People Through Music
posted by Rumple at 7:51 AM on February 27 [2 favorites]


That was really enjoyable, Rumple. Cribbing like mad for future presenters I might be able to hire!
posted by Miko at 10:27 AM on February 27 [1 favorite]


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