Redskins Name Change Controversy

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images, Patrick Smith/Getty Images

A new poll from The Washington Post finds that 90 percent of Native Americans are not bothered by the Washington Redskins’ team name.

The poll surveyed 504 people who identify as Native American, both those in tribes and those not, from across the country and asked:

“The professional football team in Washington calls itself the Washington Redskins. As a Native American, do you find that name offensive, or doesn’t it bother you?”

In addition to 90 percent answering that the name doesn’t bother them, 73 percent said that they don’t consider the name to be disrespectful.

The new 90 percent figure exactly mirrors the one found by a University of Pennsylvania poll asking the same question in 2004.

Nevertheless, in the 12 years between these two polls, the Redskins’ name has inspired strong disapproval, including fiery protests, blacklisting by large media brands, and even criticism from President Obama.

Despite all of this, Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly, publicly vowed never to change the team’s name, adding the following in a statement today:

“The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride. 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.”

On the other side of the spectrum, name-change advocate and Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee tribe member Suzan Harjo told The Washington Post that she rejected the poll’s methods:

“I don’t accept self-identification. People say they’re native, and they are not native, for all sorts of reasons. Those of us who are leaders in Indian Country know who we are representing. We also know if we are representing a minority view. And this is not the case here. Our experience is completely the opposite of the [2004] Annenberg poll and this one. I just reject the whole thing.”

Given how contentious this issue has proven to be in recent years, we can surely expect more rejections of this new poll to soon come rolling in.


Next, see how the photography of Project 562 is shattering stereotypes about what Native Americans look like today. Then, take a look at an astounding map that reveals the forced removal of Native Americans from their lands.

John Kuroski
John Kuroski is the assistant editor of All That Is Interesting.
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