Who marched in? … What threatening environment?
After lots of advance notice in the press and social media, an episode of The Daily Show With Jon Stewart aired last night featuring fans of the Washington football team and real, live Native Americans—me included.
Last week, The Washington Post reported that the The Daily Show had pitted a group of Native Americans against fans of the Washington team for a segment on the name and moniker controversy.
“The Native Americans who confronted the Redskins fans — including Amanda Blackhorse, the lead plaintiff in the case that stripped the Redskins of their trademark protections this year and is being appealed — said in interviews that they marched into the room and accused the fans of backing a racist mascot,” Washington Post reporter Ian Shapira wrote.
But when The Daily Show aired the much-debated segment Thursday night, it was clear the alleged “march” was, in fact, a slow gait.
Additionally, Kelli O’Dell, 56, the former teacher who told The Washington Post she felt threatened, and then, allegedly, called police after the filming, can be seen shaking my hand mid-interview, which O’Dell initiated.
Prior to the segment on Thursday, Jon Stewart addressed the caustic controversy surrounding the meeting of the two groups.
“We learned later that some of the individuals who participated in the piece – they didn’t enjoy the experience. … But we take the complaints seriously. … If we find out that someone in a piece was intentionally mislead or if their comments were intentionally misrepresented, we do not air that piece. We would not air that piece.”
Following the show, Tara Zhaabowekwe Houska, an Ojibwe lobbyist, who was a part of the spot, told ICTMN that though she had hoped more attention had been given on the issue of Indian mascots, she was pleased with how the subject was framed.
“I’m disappointed that the storyline spent so much time addressing the experience of the fan panel, and not mascots. But I think the message we were there to deliver ultimately came through,” she said. “By showing the ridiculous position of the fans and their extreme reaction after speaking to actual Natives, it's clear their position is untenable. The name is racist, change it.”
On Friday morning, social media was ablaze with approbation of the show and the Native American participants. Gawker, USA Today and Salon also covered Thursday’s show.
During filming two weeks ago, the group of eight Native Americans, which included the 1491s’ Ryan Redcorn, Migizi Pensoneau and Bobby Wilson among others, were holed up in a hotel room of the Park Hyatt Hotel to assure that the two groups would not run into each other in the lobby of the hotel.
About three to four hours of bagels and coffee and observing Wilson cuddle with Pensoneau under a desk in the room, the group was lead to a holding room until it was time for the group to slowly walk in where the fans were engaging with The Daily Show correspondent Jason Jones.
Once filming stopped, O’Dell, herself, marched out of the room and left both groups to engage in a post-production discussion on the subject of Indian mascotry and racial discrimination.
The Daily Show segment was the second night in a row that Comedy Central has poked fun at the Washington football team. On Wednesday, “South Park” launched its eighteenth season with the episode “Go Fund Yourself” where writers of the show flipped the script on Washington football team owner Dan Snyder and capitalized on his ornery position regarding a name change.
Sterlin Harjo of the 1491s and myself were guests of The Daily Show on Thursday night during which the segment was aired. To our right and across the studio sat a man in a Washington football team t-shirt. Though Harjo and I suspected the man was an actor and had been planted there by the producers, it appeared it had just been an ironic coincidence.
Jones, who moderated the discussion during filming, ended the segment with a message to Snyder and his ilk: “Hey, he-who-stands-on-the-wrong-side-of-history, change the fucking name!”
Click here to watch the entire segment.