‘Redskin’ controversy hits high school halls


Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. source: Public Domain from www.usda.gov

Trisha Chaudhary

Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. source: Public Domain from www.usda.gov
Supreme Court building in Washington, DC. source: Public Domain from www.usda.gov
Redskin. Once a name used in upmost respect, some now view this term as a racial slur towards Native Americans, launching a hotbed of elevated dialogue. Controversy exploded over the name Redskins when in early September the Oneida Indian Nation in upstate New York launched a radio campaign urging the Washington Redskins to change their mascot due to the offensive nature of the term.
Though this may be the most recent campaign, others were vying for this same change in the past. SlateThe New Republic and Mother Jones have published articles saying they will no longer refer to the Washington Redskins as ‘Redskins.”
On Nov. 15, President Obama, released a statement saying he would consider changing the name if it offended “a sizable group of people.” He went further to say, “I don’t know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real legitimate concerns that people have about these things.”
Though now many see the word in a bad light, redskin wasn’t always used that way. Curator and senior linguist in the Department of Anthropology, National Museum of National History and Smithsonian Institution, Ives Goddard, spent seven months researching the first uses of the term. Goddard indicated that Native Americans used the term to describe themselves and differentiate them and the Caucasians.
The term became more widespread throughout the 1800s and the Native Americans themselves used it in communication, according to NPR. This debate has envelope wound it’s way into the halls of RBHS where students are quickly forming their opinions regarding it.
Self-described sports fanatic, junior Nick Whitworth, disagrees with Obama’s statement saying that the identity and tradition that lies in enters Redskin is too important to change now.
“I don’t think they should change it because they’ve already had that mascot for so long and it would be such a big and expensive change,” Whitworth said. “I just don’t think it’s necessary, and the last time they changed a mascot was from the Hornets to the Pelicans and that is the dumbest mascot in the world.”
The Washington Redskins aren’t alone in their mascot. According to the MaxPreps database, there are 70 different high schools in the United State that use Redskins as their mascot; however, people continue to find offense in the term, and 28 high schools around the country have dropped Redskins as their mascot. While some may have formed opinions already, others continue to decide. Recently Neshaminy High School’s newspaper and online news site The Playwickian published an unsigned editorial saying that they would no longer publish the name of their mascot, the Redskins.
Senior Daniel Shapiro is torn over the issue. 
“I’m kind of split,” Shapiro said. “On the one hand the point of a mascot is to be somewhat comical and putting a figure that could be controversial in that position probably isn’t the best idea.  That being said, I don’t think changing all mascots who are in any way “offensive” is a good idea because anything can be offensive to certain people and I think it would be more trouble than it’s worth.”
By Trisha Chaudhary
Read more coverage of NHS and The Playwickian’s First Amendment struggles here.
What do you think about the Redskin controversy? Should the Washington Redskins change their mascot?