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Houska: Jeb Bush Says Native Americans Aren't Offended: Next Time Ask Us First

Washington football team owner Daniel Snyder donated $100,000 to a pro-Jeb Bush PAC. Later, Bush said the team should not change its name.

While public schools across the nation continue to open their eyes to the harms of Native American mascots, the Washington football team has remained steadfast in their caricaturing of Native Americans and use of a racial slur.

Two years ago, Dan Snyder told USA Today, “NEVER. You can use caps,” when asked about renaming his team. Losing another lawsuit to Native Americans opposed to the name must have stung last July.

In response to the hundreds of tribes, tribal organizations, and tribal members suing, protesting, and speaking out, Snyder waged an all-out PR campaign to garner support and show dissension among Native peoples.

The team’s Original Americans Foundation has set out across Indian country to address Snyder’s newfound interest in Native American affairs. Because if he can show “some” Native Americans are OK with a dictionary-defined racial slur, that will quell the empirical evidence demonstrating the harm of Native mascots on Native children’s self-esteem, right?

Hardly.

While Native American condemnation of a racial slur grows in volume, Jeb Bush, Republican presidential candidate, defended the Washington team to Sirius XM’s The Arena in a broadcast set to air Friday.

It was fairly unsurprising to read of Dan Snyder’s $100,000 contribution to a pro-Bush super PAC, in light of his repeated attempts to buy Native American support for the Washington team.

“I don’t find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive,” Bush told Sirius XM.

Oneida Nation’s Change the Mascot campaign fired back, stating “…[Bush] somehow believes he speaks for Native Americans and can assert Native American people do not find this slur offensive. He clearly is missing something.”

Wasting no time to point out the Republican party’s struggles with issues concerning minorities, Democratic National Committee Chair Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz noted Bush’s “shocking disregard for America’s diverse society,” and asserted that Bush’s stance is “one of many reasons he will not earn the Native American vote. The team’s name is a racial slur that perpetuates negative stereotypes of Native American people, and reduces proud cultures to an insulting caricature.”

Over one hundred tribes representing nearly 1.5 million Native Americans have formally opposed the Washington team logo and moniker. Not one of the 567 federally-recognized tribes has given support. Mr. Bush might want to do a bit more outreach in Native America if he feels another urge to assert what we do or don’t find offensive.

Tara Houska. Photo courtesy Josh Daniels.

Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation) is a tribal rights attorney in Washington, D.C., a founding member of NotYourMascots.org, and an all-around rabble rouser. Follow her: @zhaabowekwe.