The Native American Mascot Controversy
By Anna Yang
Origin of “Redskin”
The origin of the word "redskin" is debated. According to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), the term "redskin" came from the reddish skin color of some Native Americans, as in the terms red Indian and red man. The OED cites instances of its usage in English dating back to the 17th century and cites a use of red in reference to skin color from 1587. Multiple theories fight for prominence as to the true historical origin of the word. One theory, mentioned above, is that the term was meant as merely a physical indicator, similar to the words "white" and "black" for Caucasians and Africans, respectively. Another theory holds that it was first used by Native Americans during the 1800s as a way of distinguishing themselves from the ever-growing white population. An often mentioned third but not proven origin involves the bloody skins (red-skins) of Native people as "prizes," in which they would be scalped after battle and their skins bought and sold in local towns. To date, there is no historical documentation or evidence to support this theory. Yet another theory is that the term "Red Indian" originated to describe the Beothuk people of Newfoundland who painted their bodies with red ochre, and was then generalized to North American indigenous people in general. However, Smithsonian linguist Ives Goddard says the evidence to support such a claim is "unfounded" and further claims the term was first used in the 1800's.
Washington Football Team: The Truth
The Washington Redskins were originally known as the Newark Tornadoes and then the Boston Braves. Most accounts can agree that team owner George Preston Marshall changed the franchise name from the Boston Braves to the Boston Redskins in 1933 to recognize then coach, William “Lone Star” Dietz. Dietz, who claimed half-German, half-Sioux background, embraced what he perceived to be a Native American heritage....