Sports Team Names with Native American References Essay

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There is considerable controversy that dates back to the 1960’s over sports teams’ names that reference Native American heritage. “The National Congress of American Indiana’s (NCIA) created a campaign in 1968 to eliminate stereotypes found in print and other media.” (ChangeTheMascot.org). The American Indian community has worked for many years to abolish the right to use Native American Names, spiritual and cultural symbols by professional sports teams (Teters) that they feel offensive. The Washington Redskins football team continues to battle a long standing controversy to change their name. Native Americans, politicians, fans of American football, as well as the general public all seem to have opposing viewpoints regarding if this …show more content…
There are hundreds of sport team names that derive from ethnic groups of people. How could one possibly find a name that was not offensive to someone? But, within all the controversy of offensive team names, there are many teams that have decided to change their name out of respect to this issue:
1. University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign: Retired its Mascot in 2007, but kept its controversial name “the Fighting Illini”.
2. University of Massachusetts Amherst: Changed their name back in 1972 from the Redmen to Minutemen.
3. University of North Dakota: Dropped their name after failing to receive approval from tribes under a NCAA settlement. The team currently does not have a nickname or mascot.
4. Driggs, Idaho high school: Had dropped its longtime “Redskins” nickname out of respect for Native Americans.

Where is the line drawn and who is allowed to draw that line? I do not believe a team name has ever been created to insult or offend the participants, and although I am empathetic to those who are offended, I feel that this issue has been taken out of context. It has been argued that “intent” is needed to be offensive. The intent behind the decision to name the team “The Redskins” was positive upon conception. Specifically speaking, the Redskins name was born in 1933 to honor then-coach Lone Star Dietz, an American Sioux (Ritz, The Blaze). The name was given as a

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