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Redskins

Retired Native American Chief Would Be Offended If Redskins Did Change Name

by Chris Lingebach
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A Washington Redskins fan cheers during their NFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedExField on January 6, 2013. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

A Washington Redskins fan cheers during their NFC Wild Card Playoff Game against the Seattle Seahawks at FedExField on January 6, 2013. (Credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

Chris Lingebach Chris Lingebach
Chris Lingebach is a writer for CBSDC.com, 1067thefandc.com, and blogs...
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WASHINGTON (CBSDC) - Days ago, ten members of Congress sent letters to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder, and the team’s stadium naming rights holder FedEx, along with the league’s 31 other franchises, urging them to have ‘Redskins’ changed due to the name’s offensive nature.

In response, the longtime chief of a major Virginia-based tribe went on the record to say he’d actually be offended if the team DID change the name.

Virginia Senator: Redskins Logo is a ‘Symbol of Unity’

Robert “Two Eagles” Green, who retired from his presiding role over the 1300-member Patawomeck Tribe in March, was a guest on SiriusXM NFL Radio’s “The Opening Drive” on Wednesday.

He gave a detailed account of the origin of the term Redskin, why so many people are offended by it, and how political correctness has allowed this story to fester far longer than it should.

“I think that first of all, you have to make a decision whether you consider it offensive or not, and frankly, the members of my tribe, the vast majority, don’t find it offensive,” Green said. “I’ve been a Redskins fan for years and to be honest with you, I would be offended if they did change it.”

Earlier this month, Snyder told the USA Today “We’ll never change the name,” but instead of bringing finality to the debate, his words seemed to spark controversy on a national level, bringing activists from both sides out of the woodwork to fan the flames.

Chief Green’s research indicates the common misconception is to think the term was originally used as a racial epithet to denigrate Native people; that the label was actually self-applied, and was used quite frequently during interactions with early settlers.

Here’s a blow-by-blow of the interview, in which each nuance of the great debate is addressed.

Why are people offended by it?

“Well I think that, first of all, our country has become too politically correct. And you can find it in any number of areas. Little League, where everybody has to get a trophy now, or otherwise, the poor child that doesn’t get a trophy will have his psyche hurt.”

Origin of the Name

“And I think what you have to do is look at where the term Redskin was originated. There’s some that give the term Redskins a negative connotation to indicate that it was created by the white man, to offend the Indians. But in reality, the term Redskins came from the Indians. And they referred to themselves often times, in treaty negotiations and meetings with the early settlers, as Redskins.

“So it’s not a term that the white man created. It’s actually a term that the Indians themselves created. I just think we have people in this country that try and gin up problems that don’t exist.”

“Now, our investigation into the term goes back pretty far – to 1608 – when John Smith was traveling from Jamestown to meet with the Indian people, and he remarked in his diary that when they’re born, they’re as white as we are. It’s only as they age that their skin darkens.

“And we believe that that was a reason for that. We use a bug repellant, for lack of a better term, that was made up of animal fat and the dye of the Puccoon plant. And coincidentally, the Puccoon dye, when it’s crushed and dyed, is red. And so for years, the Indian people were rubbing this red dye into their skin. And some of the other early settlers remarked that their skin turns red. So, was that a comment meant to denigrate the Indian people? I don’t think so. I don’t think the name was created by George Preston Marshall to be offensive.”

The Logo

“And if you look at the logo, there’s nothing offensive about the logo. I think one of the great things about the logo is that it’s an Eastern Indian, and they didn’t go to the full warhead headdress and things. It was never intended to be offensive. I think that sometimes, we’re a little too touchy in our society these days.”

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