WASHINGTON: The nickname of the NFL’s Washington Redskins is not offensive to 90 percent of Native Americans surveyed in a poll released on Thursday (Friday in Manila) by the Washington Post.
The newspaper said it polled 504 Native Americans from around the United States and also found that 78 percent of respondents did not consider the nickname an important issue.
The US capital’s NFL club has come under fire in recent years for its reluctance to consider changing the name many find a racial slur toward Native Americans.
Redskins’ owner Dan Snyder, who has refused to consider changing the nickname, said the results supported his contention that the nickname is a tribute to Native Americans.
“The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride,” Snyder said in a statement. “Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.”
But a group called Change the Mascot said the poll adds little to the issue.
“The results of this poll confirm a reality that is encouraging but hardly surprising — Native Americans are resilient and have not allowed the NFL’s decades-long denigration of us to define our own self-image,” National Congress of American Indians executive director Jackie Pata and Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter said in a statement.
“However, that proud resilience does not give the NFL a license to continue marketing, promoting, and profiting off of a dictionary-defined racial slur — one that tells people outside of our community to view us as mascots.
“Social science research and first-hand experience has told us that this kind of denigration has both visible and unseen consequences for Native Americans in this country. This is especially the case for children, who were not polled and who are in a particularly vulnerable position to be bullied by the NFL.
“It is the 21st century — it is long overdue for Native Americans to be treated not as mascots or targets of slurs, but instead as equals.”