Washington Redskins Owner Dan Snyder Drops “Redskins” from Team Name-Fiction!
Summary of eRumor:
Rumors are floating around that Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has dropped “Redskins” from the team’s name because of its racist overtones.
Dan Snyder has not announced that he’s dropping “Redskins” from his NFL team’s name, and he’s showed no signs of being open to that.
The “Redskins” team name has been a source of controversy for years. American Indian tribes and their supporters have called for owner Dan Snyder to change the team’s name — and a MoveOn.org petition sums up their argument:
The name “Washington Redskins” is racially derogatory and has no place in today’s culture. For decades, Native Americans have asked the team to choose a different name, and in recent months the movement has gained momentum as major media outlets like the San Francisco Chronicle and Slate Magazine (owned by The Washington Post Company) have decided to stop using the term, as has award-winning Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King. Now is the time.
Dan Snyder, however, has shot down claims that “Redskin” is a racial slur. He told the Washington Post in 2014 that:
“I think you’re going to have some people that feel a certain way, absolutely, and we respect those opinions,” Snyder said. “But I hope they respect our opinion. The respect needs to be mutual, and I hope they do.”
Snyder was also asked why he had agreed to an interview about the nickname controversy at all, which is something I had wondered. Snyder’s opinion on the matter is well documented. What more is there to say?
“I actually didn’t want to,” Snyder said, laughing. “I don’t know, people think that they need to hear the truth, they need to hear some history, they need to hear the facts. So I said, okay, I’ll tell them.”
Snyder returned to the issue of truth later in the interview.
“As my father would say, the truth’s on your side,” said Snyder, who stands by the story that George Preston Marshall renamed the team in 1933 to honor its first coach, William ‘Lone Star’ Dietz. “We’ve traveled and we’ve seen the truth. Nobody in Washington, D.C. wants to talk about the truth, so the truth is on our side.”
However, Slate relates a different origin for the term “Redskins,” one that’s not as friendly as Snyder’s:
In 2005, the Indian language scholar Ives Goddard of the Smithsonian Institution published a remarkable and consequential study of redskin’s early history. His findings shifted the dates for the word’s first appearance in print by more than a century and shed an awkward light on the contemporary debate. Goddard found, in summary, that “the actual origin of the word is entirely benign.”
Redskin, he learned, had not emerged first in English or any European language. The English term, in fact, derived from Native American phrases involving the color red in combination with terms for flesh, skin, and man. These phrases were part of a racial vocabulary that Indians often used to designate themselves in opposition to others whom they (like the Europeans) called black, white, and so on.
But the language into which those terms for Indians were first translated was French. The tribes among whom the proto forms of redskin first appeared lived in the area of the upper Mississippi River called Illinois country. Their extensive contact with French-speaking colonists, before the French pulled out of North America, led to these phrases being translated, in the 1760s, more or less literally as peau-rouge and only then into English as redskin. It bears mentioning that many such translators were mixed-blood Indians.
Half a century later, redskin began circulating. It was used at the White House when President Madison requested that various Indian tribes steer clear of an alliance with Britain. No Ears, a chief of the Little Osages, spoke in reply and one of his statements was translated as, “I know the manners of the whites and the red skins.” Only in 2004, however, when the Papers of James Madison project at the University of Virginia reached the year 1812 did this and another use of redskin from the same meeting come to light.
Either way, contrary to reports, Dan Snyder has showed no willingness to change the team’s name — neither has the NFL. That’s why we’re calling this one fiction.