Watching the Washington Redskins during Native American Heritage Month

Danielle Rowaan

Danielle Rowaan
November 1, 2015

How a "blanket exercise" helped me understand the historical context of the Washington Redskins controversy.

November 3, 2015

I love this line from Bishop MacDonald: "We see here the Gospel’s stubborn refusal to become the servant of one culture’s attempt to subvert another." The gospel - like the One it reveals - is transcendent of culture.

Walli Daniel
November 3, 2015

I was struck by the tone and attitude of this article. Your sincere interest in understanding others is genuine and not driven by political agenda, which was refreshing.
Living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, my experience and perspective differs, but the attitude is the same. My stepfather, who raised me was half Cherokee, raised by a full blood mother feithout running water and electricity. Given his third grade education he was self educated, fiercely proud, independent, self reliant and abhorred govt handouts. He enlisted twice and served in WW2, and was a proud American never resenting our history. He believed what while we are not perfect, this country is the greatest nation on earth and would lay down his life to defend it. My husband is a physician and almost half Choctaw and Cherokee/German and English. He has his DIB card and entitled to Indian benefits since his ancestors were registered on Indian rolls. Both men would defend the Reds and other trademarks and believe this is an attempt at cultural cleansing. We cannot erase it and should not go back and try. Both families feel the same way and believe the American govt in the end has provided structure and opportunity improving the Native lifestyle. Both families believe in small govt and the individual's right to achieve whatever they dare to dream. The Indian cultures did not provide the quality of life as western cultures. I respect the feelings of others, but believe we must move on. Our grandparents would not want us to look back or adopt a victim mentality, Imperfect as the new frontier was. Much of Indian culture was primitive. Worldwide change was inevitable. The discussion of the patents is an embarrassment to both sides of my Native American families. Those responsible for bad decisions died a generation ago as did those who suffered the wrongs. We are all Americans and proud of it.

November 4, 2015

Thanks to both of you for your comments. Love the dialogue.

As a Canadian, I can speak best to our context, though there are some clear similarities. There has been a huge Indigenous-led movement in Canada to hear the stories of the wrongs done by majority culture to Indigenous people, particularly in the recent residential school era, because *we can only move forward together once we know where we've been*. That movement culminated in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada. Talking about the (recent) past doesn't mean we're not also moving forward. But acknowledging the brokenness in where we've come from sets the stage for us to move forward in a more healthy way, without sweeping the past under the rug. The profound continued brokenness of the relationship needs attention before imagining that we can move together in a unified, just way.

While I'm sure there is plenty of diversity among Native Americans and First Nations people in terms of how they feel about the Redskins mascot, there is a substantial Native American-led movement to change the name. (See http://www.changethemascot.org/.)

Also as a Canadian, I can't let your comment about the USA being the best nation on earth pass by unchallenged. :)

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