Native American advocate groups are making a big stink about the "Redskins" nickname of the NFL franchise in Washington, D.C. Why is it a problem in 2014? The Redskins nickname has been around since the team's 1934 inception in Boston.
The United States government has now stepped in canceling the team's once trademarked logo -- why is it such a big deal now? Now, I get that "Redskins" has a negative connotation for American Indians, but doesn't the Vikings nickname have the same for those of Scandinavian heritage? Vikings were known to rape and plunder the villages of innocent people and were known as fiercesome warriors -- probably the reason Minnesota named its NFL team after them. But, I argue is that any better than the nickname of the Redskins?
UMass Lowell was forced to changed its nickname from the Chiefs to River Hawks after it, too, faced flack from native American rights groups. How is nicknaming a team the Chiefs offensive? Chiefs are honorable members of native American tribes, heck, all of our fire departments and police departments have them.
A chief is a leader. Not too long ago, I remember Nashoba Regional High School being under fire for its "Chieftain" nickname. It was when I was a member of its wrestling cooperative team, there was talk it might switch to the Blackhawks ... that never happened.
A logo, pretty similar to that off the Redskins. If the Redskins nickname was nipped 30-plus years-ago, it would make sense. But, why in 2014? People of our generation are desensitized to the horror that many American Indians faced as part of the most recent 1956 Indian Relocation Act. The goal was for American Indians to quit acting out their heritage and blend in with the rest of the American population.
Native Americans, who participated in the Indian Relocation Act were reimbursed for moving expenses, if they moved to reservations erected by the government. The Redskins were around in 1932 ... why didn't the American Indians speak up then about the offense the name caused? Again, why now?
High school nicknames right in our own backyard have negative connotations if you really care to dig deep. Take the Groton-Dunstable Crusaders' nickname for example: If you look at the Crusades from a historical perspective, followers of the Roman Catholic Church in the 1090's fought to contain the spread of Islam.
They did so by pillaging villages along the way and forcing Catholicism on the people in the cities they conquered.
Now, think about this: Some non-Catholics who attend public schools like Groton-Dunstable that have nicknames based in religious history might take offense to it.
So, if we are changing the Redskins nickname out of sensitivity to Native Americans, where does it stop?
In 2010, Division 1 University of North Dakota was encouraged to drop its nickname of the "Fighting Sioux" based on many of the same arguments that opponents of the Redskins nickname are presenting.
The University of North Dakota opted to drop its name, but why? The Sioux, like many American Indian tribes, were in fact militaristic people. Like any group of people, everyone does not fit under one umbrella. If anything, American Indian groups, such as the Fighting Sioux, should be honored that a university respected its history so much that it wanted to name its sports teams after them. The University of North Dakota under state law cannot adopt a new nickname until 2015, and it is not allowed wear apparel with the Fighting Sioux nickname. The Sioux are defined as a "warrior-like American Indian tribe of the Dakotas." So, I do not see the problem.
North Middlesex is nicknamed the Patriots, could that not be taken the wrong way, too? Of course it can, everyone has a different perception of things. Patriots are heroes to some people in America, but to others they might be seen as terrorists for their crude warfare tactics. And, don't get me started on the Notre Dame Fighting' Irish ... great mascot, but very degrading to Irish people, if you follow the same avenue of logic those opposed to the Redskins nickname.
I don't see any Irish rights organizations kicking down the Dean's door in South Bend, do you?
Team nicknames usually depict some animal or group of people that are fierce.
It should ultimately be up to the Redskins owner Dan Snyder if he wants to change the nickname or not.
And, he has already said he will not do it.