Callin Out Names

redskins-helmet
In the wake of the recent appeals court ruling allowing the Washington Redskins to keep their name and trademark several questions have been asked in regard to whether or not the team should change their name. If the moniker Redskins was meant to be slanderous and demeaning from the starting point of the team, then yes, a change would be necessary. But where did the name originate?

Before Daniel Snyder purchased the team from the Cooke estate, a co-founder and eventual majority owner of the football team was a man named George Preston Marshall. Marshall and three other associates were granted an NFL franchise for Boston in 1932. The team was initially known as the Boston Braves due to the team playing at Braves Field, home of Boston’s National League baseball team, and so they took on the same name, the ‘Boston Braves’.

The following year (1933) led by head coach Lone Star Dietz, a self proclaimed Native American, the team moved to Fenway Park. With the switch in venues came a switch in team name. Marshall chose the name Redskins in honor of Coach Dietz, who claimed to be part Sioux. Some researchers question Dietz’s heritage as to whether he was truly Sioux Native American. Dietz was raised by two White parents but believed he had Sioux blood.

Along with prospect that the nickname for our beloved team that hails from the nations capital, and Boston, is based on a lie, the original owner was known for his bigotry. While the rest of the league began signing African-Americans in 1946, Marshall held out until 1962 before signing the first African-American player to the franchise. And the basis for his signing of the African American player, Bobby Mitchell, was that unless he signed a black player, he would be denied use of the new 54,000-seat D.C. Stadium (later renamed RFK) that the government had paid for.

From the surface, the team name ‘Redskin’ seems harmless. But with further delving there is a strong possibility the team name could have been founded on something cruel and racist.


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10 Responses to “Callin Out Names”

  1. Tom Benjey says:

    A little more delving will show that Smithsonian Linguist Emeritist Ives Goddard spent several months researching the term “redskins” and found its origin not to be racists. Also, polls of American Indians have found majorities of those polled not to be offended by the name.

    Tom Benjey, author of
    “Keep A-goin’: the life of Lone Star Dietz”
    “Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs: Jim Thorpe & Pop Warner’s Carlisle Indian School football immortals tackle socialites, bootleggers, students, moguls, prejudice, the government, ghouls, tooth decay and rum”
    “Oklahomas’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals”

  2. Tom Benjey says:

    A little more delving would show that Smithsonian Linguist Emeritist Ives Goddard spent several months researching the origin of the word “redskins” and found it to be far from racist. Polls have found a majority of American Indians do not consider it to be offensive now.

    Tom Benjey, author of:

    Keep A-goin’: the life of Lone Star Dietz

    Doctors, Lawyers, Indian Chiefs: Jim Thorpe & Pop Warner’s Carlisle Indian School football immortals tackle socialites, bootleggers, students, moguls, prejudice, the government, ghouls, tooth decay and rum

    Oklahoma’s Carlisle Indian School Immortals

  3. Paul says:

    Hey Eric,

    Great article. I think we’re in denial if we think this name isn’t racist. Come on, imagine if our team logo had a black man in profile with some african tribal headgear and we called ourselves the Blackskins. It’s obviously racist, whether the term was meant to be derogatory back at the inception or not.

    The simple fact that the recent ruling was in favor of the skins doesn’t make it right. And the idea that we (I mean, Daniel) would lose money over rebranding is ludicrous. The old stuff would sell overnight as souveniers and the new stuff would give every fan the opportunity to get the current colors. Washington Bullets did it and several other NFL franchises completely rebranded (Houston/Tennessee, Cleveland/Baltimore) without much negative economic impact. Probably could make this argument that they did it with significant economic gain, as a matter of fact. Have some cojones, Snyder, and DO THE RIGHT THING.

  4. […] esteemed Redskinsgab.com colleague Eric Lawson wrote a great piece on the recent court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against the Redskins’ team name and trademark. […]

  5. […] esteemed Redskinsgab.com colleague Eric Lawson wrote a great piece on the recent court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against the Redskins’ team name and trademark. […]

  6. […] esteemed Redskinsgab.com colleague Eric Lawson wrote a great piece on the recent court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against the Redskins’ team name and trademark. […]

  7. […] esteemed Redskinsgab.com colleague Eric Lawson wrote a great piece on the recent court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against the Redskins’ team name and trademark. […]

  8. […] esteemed Redskinsgab.com colleague Eric Lawson wrote a great piece on the recent court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against the Redskins’ team name and trademark. […]

  9. Matt says:

    the change from the Bullets to the Wizards was one of the stupidest changes a DC team has made.

  10. […] esteemed Redskinsgab.com colleague Eric Lawson wrote a great piece on the recent court ruling dismissing a lawsuit against the Redskins’ team name and trademark. […]