Redskins Change Team name for the first time Since 1933

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WashingtonFootballTeam.com

The Washington Redskins are changing their team mascot, but have not decided on a new one yet.

Jordan Tyler Maralit '21, Editor-In-Chief

 

After decades of petitions and protests, the NFL franchise team Washington Redskins has retired their name and intends to remove any remnants of it from all digital and physical space associated with the team. 

Washington’s owner Dan Snyder, announced a temporary team name, the “Washington Football Team.” The name is not a final renaming or rebranding for the team, but it will be used moving forward pending adoption of a new name in the future. 

In the year of 1933, former owner George Preston Marshall renamed the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins (Washington’s NFL team used to be in Boston). Thirty nine years later, 1972, Native American leaders and protested against the team name. When the Redskins went to the Super Bowl XXVI in 1992, thousands of Native American activists protested the name in Minneapolis. Snyder stated in 2013 that he will not change the name. 

In 2016, a Washington Post poll about whether Native Americans found the Washington Redskins’ name as derogatory and offensive showed that 90 percent of respondents said they were not offended by the team’s name. The poll has since been used by Snyder and other team owners as evidence that their Native American mascots are inoffensive. However, when this poll was released, it faced criticism from Native American groups for the small number of those surveyed (504) compared to the total population (3 to 5 million). Many other organizations have done their own surveys, and received different results.

Native American groups have long argued that both the name of the team and the main logo are racist. Many associated the term “Redskin,” as a racist slur used against Native Americans. 

FedEx, Nike and PepsiCo each received letters signed by 87 investment firms and shareholders worth a combined $620 billion asking the companies to sever ties with the team unless it changes its controversial name. On Thursday night Football, Nike has appeared to remove all of the Redskins gear from its online store. 

Piscataway Nation Chief Billy Redwing Tayac, protested against the name and logo. Since the mid 1980s, Chief Tayac has been in the forefront of protests on getting NFL teams to change their name. “The name is racist that’s what you’ve got to understand,” Chief Tayac told ABC News. He added, “Don’t believe what I tell you, look it up in Webster’s Dictionary for the Washington Football Team. I don’t like to say the word, but it’s Redskin. See what it means. It’s a racial slur for Native Americans. It’s derogatory.”  

History teacher and Cana Provincial, Christopher Fern said, “I think the most important people to ask whether or not it is offensive, are those who self identify as Native American and who are actively engaged in their native culture. And what I have read is that the majority of Native Americans who do regularly participate in their cultural identity and practices have said that they wished the name to be changed. In particular, I believe the Cherokee, Comanche, and other tribal councils have passed resolutions or made statements opposing the name being used for the team.” 

He added, “Based on the resolutions and statements of tribal Councils, yes, I do believe that it is necessary to change the name of the team.  One need only look at history to see that our nation has dehumanized and taken just about all it could from the indigenous people of this land—it seems that changing the name of the sports team is the least that can be done when in fact we should do much more.” 

John Herzstein ’21 said, “It was bound to happen. There were many videos about that the name is uncalled for, but I believe that what got most hate from is the logo itself.”

He continued, “I can see why people can find the name offensive, but they also need a new name for the team because the Washington Football team sounds very generic.”

Herzstein compared the situation to the Cleveland Indians logo. He added, “With the Cleveland Indians as their logo is not that good either, because it shows a red face Indian, which is pretty offensive. However, the logo is more offensive than the name itself.”