CLEVELAND (CBS CLEVELAND/AP) – An American Indian organization has shed new light on the context of how offensive and racist sports team images like the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins is to their community.
The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) published a powerful poster featuring two baseball hats that each have a stereotypical racist image of a Jewish man and Chinese man to show it has the same connotation as the Cleveland Indians. The hats were titled “New York Jews” and “San Francisco Chinamen.”
The quote on the poster reads, “No race, creed or religion should endure the ridicule faced by the Native Americans today. Please help us put an end to this mockery and racism by visiting www.ncai.org“.
The organization has spent years trying to get offensive sports team names and logos changed like the Cleveland Indians and Washington Redskins professional teams.
President Barack Obama said Saturday he would consider getting rid of the Washington Redskins name if he owned the team.
Jefferson Keel, President of the NCAI told the Indian Country Today Media Network that President Obama’s remarks last week “underscore the fact that has become increasingly obvious.
“[That name] originated in the bounty paid for Native body parts and human flesh. It does not honor Native people in any way, and has no place in modern American society,” he explained to the network.
Keel also shared that the word Redskins is a racial slur to the Native American community and that it is very offensive.
But the thoughts and beliefs of native people are the basis of the debate over changing the team name. And looking across the breadth of Native America — with 2 million Indians enrolled in 566 federally recognized tribes, plus another 3.2 million who tell the Census they are Indian — it’s difficult to tell how many are opposed to the name.
The NFL has said it will meet with an Indian tribe pushing for the Redskins to drop the nickname, although NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said he did not know if he or whether owner Dan Snyder would attend.
That group, the Oneida Indian Nation, held a symposium on the topic in Washington on Monday, timed to coincide with the NFL meetings.
At Monday’s session, a member of Congress, Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum, said the league and team are “promoting a racial slur” and “this issue is not going away.”
After Goodell’s news conference Tuesday, a spokesman for the Oneida Indian Nation, Joel Barkin, issued a statement that read, in part: “The fact is that the league will not truly be listening to critics of this racial slur unless its commissioner gets personally involved.”
-Regina F. Graham
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