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The Native Sports Columnist Throws Red Flag at Washington Post Poll

I’m still waiting for the Washington Post to write, “April Fool’s!” I guess we’re in May now, though.

That Redskins poll it commissioned seems like it had little to no Native American input regarding the scope of work to be conducted by survey company SSRS.

This poll was supposedly brought to 504 “self-identified” Native Americans over the course of five months. That loose requirement is about as red of flag as the one coaches throw in an NFL game to dispute a ruling.

What the study found:

  • Seven of 10 Natives didn’t find the R-word disrespectful.
  • Eight of 10 wouldn’t be offended if called “Redskin” by a non-Native.
  • Nine out of 10 aren’t bothered by the name.

Doesn’t this kind of suggest all of the hootin’ and hollerin’ Natives have been doing—decades of groundwork and momentum toward the removal of a culturally-offensive caricature—has been meaningless? One can’t help but think of the national sports columnists who have stood behind the widespread Native opposition to this word. Or the news organizations and commentators who also made valiant stands against its usage.

The result of the poll just contributes to the black cloud America has placed over Native Americans by allowing team names like the Redskins and others in professional sports.

We saw progress in college athletics with the removal of Native American imagery for many teams. And a trickle-down effect on our high school administrators and school boards, who began the removal of the name at that level.

In an era where progressive states like Montana and Washington are looking to their local tribes to provide accurate and informative high school curriculum regarding their culture, a team in the nation’s capital is showcasing a much more damaging behavior. The defiant stand by the NFL’s Washington Redskins just fortifies the insensitive minds that want the name to live on.

With Native communities suffering more, per capita, than any other race in this country regarding poverty rates, suicide rates and domestic violence rates, the last thing we need is another kick while we’re down.

The mindless conducting of this poll is just another boot to the gut.

Cary Rosenbaum (Colville/Arrow Lakes) is a sports columnist for ICTMN. Follow him on Twitter: @caryrosenbaum

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