As a troublemaker I’ve always been ambivalent about the Redskins epithet, because I identify with the redskin that will kill a white dude, scalp him and raise the bloody trophy along with an ear-piercing victory war whoop. Did I make that ritual up? No, it has somehow become ingrained inside of me and millions of others. That’s one of the main reasons we rez and urban NDNs call ourselves “skins.”
What’s terrible are the drunken revelry and total disrespect that the painted-and-befeathered fans engage in. It has become normal behavior in stadiums, parking lots and bars. They’re also spouting, screaming and whooping as they dump their manly angst and neo-tribal anger at the perception that “we” are taking away “their” sacred traditions. They project this onto real Native Americans who are protesting the whole scene by saying “you” are abusing and degrading “our” sacred traditions. They’re ours! No, they’re ours! Who’s right? Well, isn’t that America? I got mine (even if I stole it) now you get yours!
All this started out years ago when this bile would be dumped on the occasional Native family attending a game who weren’t aware of the potential for humiliation or embarrassment caused by drunken fans. Some urban Indians decided to do something about it, because it was their families who were being affected. Do these Redskin (or other Indian-named teams) fans consider the noble redman and the honest historical symbology portrayed by the original inhabitants of the nation and its capital? No, I think that’s a fall-back position. It’s the only “honor” argument they have.
I think their minds conjure bloodthirsty savages giving no quarter to enemies. They think of a redskin killing a white dude too! Do the actual players act out savage redskin behavior on the field in touchdown celebrations? Hell No! Because they know the consequences. And why don’t we hear the fight song, Hail to the Redskins!, when we watch TV games? And what about the cheerleaders? Why aren’t they called the Red Squawettes or Buckskin Princesses? Well, we know why: Because all hell would break loose. I understand that owner Dan Snyder has stopped fans from bringing in signs. Could it be they know what kind of stupid jibber-jabber and racist rhetoric their crazy-ass fans would flash on national TV broadcasts? And let’s go back to the original sin: the drunken fans! Alcohol isn’t just the bane or plight of the Native American. I guess it’s a tradition.
Ever since the Boston Tea Party, white dudes have been acting out by dressing up as Indians in modified burlap sacks, feathers in their hair and painted faces. The Dutch farmers of early New York State also dressed up as these Mohawk Indians to abuse state tax collectors, send a message and hide their identities. So there’s that tradition.
The savage, the redskin, the warrior, the fighter, the defender, the killer, the scalper—all are somehow buried deep in the American psyche, the bloody history, Hollywood, the playing of war, the play killing, the violence the acting out. So there’s that tradition.
It is a property thing, after all, the ‘Mericans say they discovered, stole, killed for, made treaties for, then purchased the whole thing! And after ‘skins were made into farmers or alcoholics on reservations, the red warrior is honored for being a worthy opponent to the genocidal maniacs. Actually, that would make a great name for the Washington, DC soccer team: the Genocide! The logo could be a pile of skulls!
So it belongs to them, it’s their property, they killed for it, it’s an honor thing. It’s a hundred years old and that’s as old and traditional as it gets in this young country, which still struggles to understand its own nationhood. So I propose a new set of sports-team names based on terms that the rest of America knows these cities and regions by. They are historically based, so we should honor our country’s history in this manner.
Dallas Assassins, Washington Crackheads, Miami Druglords, New York Hymies, Boston Bombers or Boston Blue Noses, Chicago Gangsters, Kansas City Sausage Stuffers, Salt Lake City All White Saints, Cleveland Caucasians or Cleveland Caucauzoids, Philadelphia Brother Lovers, Pittsburgh Slaggers, Mississippi Lynch Mob, Arizona Cutthroats, San Francisco Flying Faggots, San Diego Wetbacks, San Antonio Banditos, New Orleans Killer Cops, Las Vegas Streetwalkers, Alabama Grand Wizards, Los Angeles Trannies, Seattle Suicides, Connecticut Kikes, Greater Midwest Tweakers, St. Louis Robber Barons, Memphis River Rats, Topeka Aborted Fetuses, Ozark Shine Runners, Buffalo Bootleggers, Atlanta Crackers, Boise Aryans, Albuquerque Meth-heads, Florida Old Farts… It becomes endless as we travel inside the psychic boundaries of America, the Great Melting Pot.
I think the new celebrations, rituals, game songs and supportive fans in their party attire would create great media spectacles! And teach historical truths to the next generations so all these traditions can be carried on. God ‘Less America! (If you think this is rude and disparaging, racist hateful speech, bullying? Well isn’t that the point/counterpoint?)
Breaking News. NFL Fans are now criticizing the “game experience.” They want changes and are getting perks like in-stadium red-zone coverage to keep them coming back, to actual games, in stadiums. So in effect, that’s saying that the game is best seen on TV and the actual stadium experience is now called into question. So when Indians say they are uncomfortable, embarrassed and humiliated at games, why is it so different than when the NFL fans they won’t bring their families or go to games alone.? They feel unsafe; it’s crowded and dirty and loud, full of expletives and pejoratives. This has also become a tradition, and sometimes traditions need to change. Or as they always tell us, people must adapt.
More breaking news. Those Washington Redskins don’t look like a good team now, the Kansas City Chiefs look like they may make the playoffs, the Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves made the MLB playoffs. Is it karma or time to double down? Well, the curse continues, Indians and Braves out, Redskins next?
Alex Jacobs, Mohawk, is a visual artist and poet living in Santa Fe.