The rights of indigenous peoples cannot be overlooked either, and once again Arizona is at the tip of that spear, since the state has the largest and second-largest tribal nations in the country (Navajo/Diné and Tohono O'odham), and a total of 22 reservations that account for more than a quarter of the state's territory. Whether the topic is water rights or education, tribal perspectives must be accounted for here. Not that they are, of course; in fact, sometimes the rubes in the legislature go out of their way to discredit Native American views.
Although Washington, D.C., is on the other side of the country, the arguments surrounding the local football team's racist name have resonated here a long time, and we've certainly experienced our share of indigenous name battles. So, the "Redski*s" brouhaha is not a new issue for some local groups who've been on the frontline of that controversy. As many have argued, if the Washington mascot were named after any other ethnic or minority group, especially using an offensive term, the name would not last into next week. But for some reason it's still okay to exploit Native peoples.
I'll not revisit all of the arguments about the "Redski*s" name and team owner Daniel Snyder's lame efforts to save this piece of racist history. Because that's what it is: Snyder and NFL honcho Roger Goodell can whine all they want about the name's "proud history and heritage," but the owner who moved the team to D.C. and provided the name, George Preston Marshall, was an outright bigot. He had a group of black crooners sing "Carry Me Back to Ol' Virginny" as backdrop when he proposed to his future wife, he instructed the band to play "Dixie" at the start of every football game, his team was the last in the NFL to integrate, and when Marshall died he left an endowment to establish a foundation:
He attached, however, one firm condition: that the foundation, operating out of Washington, D.C., should not direct a single dollar toward "any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form."Proud history, eh? More over the fluffy football.
Most of Snyder's attempts to cover up this blatant bigotry have been abysmal failures. Remember when he asked people to tweet their support of the team's name? Oh, yes, that went over well. Hashtag FAIL! Then there was his Original Americans Foundation, a transparent attempt to buy Indian support. Turns out the person he tapped to run the foundation, Gary Edwards, has been implicated in Tom DeLay's Indian casino greed-fest. As another Texan might say, "Oops." More recently, the U.S. Patent Office withdrew the team's trademark protection, threatening owner Dan Snyder and the NFL with the loss of gobs of merchandizing dollars.
More than one tribal representative has already shunned Snyder's insulting overtures, as the Original Americans Foundation looks for Indians they can use as props. Again, today we learned that the Fort Yuma Quechan Tribe, whose reservation is in Arizona and California along the Colorado River near the city of Yuma, has rejected Snyder:
The Quechan Tribe turned down a "blank check" from the foundation run by the owner of the Washington Redskins because it didn't want to be used to prop up the reputation of the controversial team, a tribal member who attended the meetings said Thursday.With CEO Gary Edwards in attendance at the meeting near Yuma, Snyder's Original Americans Foundation offered the Quechan Tribe money to build a skatepark, but tribal leaders rejected the cash, saying:
We will not align ourselves with an organization to simply become a statistic in their fight for name acceptance in Native communities. ... We know bribe money when we see it.One tribal representative also said the comments made by foundation CEO Edwards at the meeting were "unbelievable."
I don't know what he thought he was doing in talking like that to us — impress us? Like he thought he could talk like that among his fellow Natives? It was so awkward.Not surprisingly, the skatepark would've been burgundy and gold with the football team's logo plastered all over it. Facepalm. Just change the friggin' name already!
ACTION: The group Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, which also has a story about the Quechan decision, is encouraging donations to help the Quechan Tribe build the skatepark. Visit www.quechanskate.com.