A recent poll suggests that a large portion of the Native American community doesn’t have a problem with the Washington Redskins’ team name. Of the 504 people polled by The Washington Post, 90 percent said the name of the team doesn’t offend them.
The poll falls in line with the sentiments of Washington owner Daniel Snyder, who has claimed that the name isn’t offensive. Despite a growing call for the team to drop the name, Snyder has not budged.
“The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride,” Snyder said in a statement. “Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.”
In the past, Snyder has used other polls to justify his stance that Washington shouldn't alter its name. He’s cited a 2004 poll conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center that produced the same result.
An ESPN poll from September 2014 found that 23 percent of Americans surveyed believed the name “Redskins” should be dropped. That was up from eight percent in 1992 and nine percentage points from 2013.
The results of the latest poll, however, won’t deter many opponents of Washington’s name. The “Change The Mascot” campaign has led the charge over the past few years, and the organization remains steadfast in its call for the NFL team to do away with the name.
“The results of this poll confirm a reality that is encouraging but hardly surprising: Native Americans are resilient and have not allowed the NFL’s decades-long denigration of us to define our own self-image,” said Change the Mascot leaders National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata and Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter. “However, that proud resilience does not give the NFL a license to continue marketing, promoting, and profiting off of a dictionary-defined racial slur -- one that tells people outside of our community to view us as mascots.
“Social science research and first hand experience has told us that this kind of denigration has both visible and unseen consequences for Native Americans in this country. This is especially the case for children, who were not polled and who are in a particularly vulnerable position to be bullied by the NFL. It is the 21st century -- it is long overdue for Native Americans to be treated not as mascots or targets of slurs, but instead as equals.”
But Snyder has continuously shown that he won’t give an inch. Washington has been fighting to keep its trademark protections on the team name after a federal judge ordered the cancellation of its trademark registrations last summer. But a recent ruling by a federal appeals court indicates Washington could win their appeal, since the court said the U.S. government can’t ban trademarks because they are offensive.
The recent poll, however, probably won’t do much to end the argument surrounding the team name. Even President Obama has asked for Snyder to change the team name.