This Thursday you will be greeted in Minnesota with yet another demonstration of Native American activists and allies, protesting your team’s name, the “Redskins. ”Gathering at the American Indian Movement’s national office, this march and rally will include Congresswoman Betty McCollum and be led by perhaps the greatest Native American athlete of the twentieth century not named Jim Thorpe, 1964 Olympic Gold Medalist, and one-time US Marine, Billy Mills.*
You can’t say you were not warned this was coming. If only you had accepted my June invitation, made on Grantland, to come with me to the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota—where Billy Mills was raised—so you could sing “Hail to the Redskins” and see for yourself whether anyone in “Indian Country” is honored by your team’s nickname. But you chose to put on burgundy-and-gold blinders, and now you are paying the price.
It is truly stunning just how much has changed since you told USA Today earlier this year, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.”
Multiple Native Americans organization, from AIM, to the Choctaw, to the Oneida Nation, are calling on you to change the name.
Everyone from President Obama to right-wing caricature Charles Krauthammer has jumped on this moving train and said the name should change.
More sportswriters are pledging not to use the word. Bob Costas called it “a slur” and “an insult” at half-time of Football Night in America. The next day, with much less uproar, FNA’s Cris Collinsworth said, “I have to admit, as I was watching the game Sunday night and I was saying the word Redskins, in my brain it was coming out red skin. And there was something about that that just didn’t feel right. I have a feeling if it were the blackskins, the brownskins, the name would have already been changed.”
This past week, the San Francisco Chronicle became the latest publication to state formally that this definition-defined-slur of a team name, would no longer be used in their publication. At your own alma mater (although technically you did not graduate), the University of Maryland, the Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Capital News Service, announced on October 30 that it would no longer be using the word “Redskins.”That had to hurt.