Washington Redskins, UND Fighting Sioux: A Native Elder's Perpective written by: Jennifer Kruse, LMT CRMT - Holistic Healing Expert - Fargo
I am not convinced Native people would celebrate the Washington Redskins losing their patent if they knew the whole story of where the team's name came from.
Forming opinions quickly without knowing the whole story is nearly unavoidable in these fast modern times. What if native supporters are actually being tricked into helping erase natives from public view... again?
I felt the same way over the UND Fighting Sioux, especially because a respected Sioux medicine man gave the team it's spirit name in a series of sacred naming ceremonies.
Why aren't native people furious that these agencies are disrespecting their medicine people by reversing their sacred naming ceremonies... again?
Here's a picture of that head coach 1933. He looks native to me. There is an easy way to figure out what's true or not. Simply ask the older native elders if they believe anyone would "pretend" to be native in 1933.
I know native elders, mixed-bloods didn't advertise it, they hid it if they could because of how both whites and natives treated them at that time. Dietz wasn't on a reservation trying to collect anything, he had no reason to lie about his ancestry.
If the team was named "Redskins" to honor a native man in 1933, is it really a good thing they are taking that honor away from him?
Native American Elder provides a different perspective
He explained that it was tough growing up in the mandatory reservation mission schools, but sometimes they would get to watch a movie and that was a really big deal. All the years growing up there, they only showed cowboy and Indian movies.
The cowboys were always the good guys and the indians were portrayed as the bad guys who always ended up dead or defeated. He explained how watching those movies made them feel demonized and defeated.
Like other children did, they tried to play cowboys & indians, but they always ended up just playing cowboys because none of the indian boys wanted to play indians. As indians, they felt defeated enough, so most of them ran around playing & pretending they were cowboys.
Insult or Compliment?
He said, "The white people remember the strength of my ancestors. See how they show up ready to play? Even the white adults are playing dress-up, they are all pretending they are as strong as the indians now."
He really enjoyed watching all of that.
Some native elders feel comforted that their people will always be remembered this way. They feel sad that native people are unknowingly supporting causes which work to erase the memory of their ancestors from the public view.
Sporting teams with native names or logos, they have chosen a symbol to represent the strength of spirit they want their team to have. Some natives enjoy the compliment to their ancestors and are thankful their people's strength of spirit is still remembered and celebrated.