By Mark Anthony Rolo
The time is now for the National Football League to stop dishonoring Native Americans. It should insist that the Washington Redskins retire the offensive nickname and image.
Recently, 10 members of the Congressional Native American Caucus formally requested that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell demonstrate a real commitment to diversity, tolerance and respect by calling upon the Washington Redskins organization to find a name that does not denigrate Native peoples.
The commissioner’s response? In his June 5 letter, Goodell defended the Redskins’ name and image. He called it “a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”
Goodell’s refusal has more to do with money than “honoring” the Native American warrior spirit. And his reply is an antiquated defense reminiscent of those who refused to recognize other pop culture stereotypes such as Little Black Sambo and Frito Bandito.
In recent years, colleges and high schools across America have dumped offensive Native American names and mascots.
In 2005, the NCAA banned use of Native American mascots in post-season basketball play. They deemed 18 colleges guilty of using “hostile or abusive” Native mascots.
The University of North Dakota (“Fighting Sioux”) challenged the NCAA ban in court but lost.
“Redskins” is a patently offensive name for Native Americans.
Mark Anthony Rolo is an enrolled member of the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians and author of the memoir “My Mother Is Now Earth.” He wrote this for Progressive Media Project, a source of liberal commentary affiliated with The Progressive magazine. Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.