Poll Finds Most Native Americans Don't Care About "Redskins" Nickname

A new poll finds that nine in ten Native Americans are not offended by Washington's team name.
May 19, 2016, 4:44pm

A new poll conducted by the Washington Post finds that nine in ten Native Americans do not find the term "Redskins" offensive. The Post conducted the poll by telephone and interviewed 504 Native Americans in every state as well as D.C. and the overwhelming result was that most simply didn't care. 73 percent of respondents do not think the term is disrespectful and 80 percent would not be offended if a non-native person called them a "redskin."

"I'm proud of being Native American and of the Redskins," said Barbara Bruce, a Chippewa teacher who has lived on a North Dakota reservation most of her life. "I'm not ashamed of that at all. I like that name."

There are a several responses similar to the one quoted above, and the Post reports that respondents "highlighted repeatedly" the relative unimportance of this debate compared to other issues facing the Native American community, including "substandard schools, substance abuse, unemployment." That is an obvious and fair point to make, but it's also worth remembering that in no way are these issues mutually exclusive. You can address and advocate on behalf of improvements in those areas while also campaigning against the use of a term you find offensive.

The danger here with a poll like this is that it will convince those who think The PC Police are out to get them that this is now, definitionally, a non-issue, while also delegitimizing the people who truly are offended by the name. Those people obviously exist, and they are not all "influential people," which is how the Post describes most of the non-Native folks who have come out in support of changing Washington's name. They are Native Americans. They have activist groups. They run commercials during the NBA Finals that literally ask you to stop using the word.

So, it's great that many of the polled Native Americans don't care about the name, but some are offended by it and are pretty fucking vocal about it. As just normal human beings interacting with other human beings, the goal should be to understand that position, instead of trying to bolster our own with raw data. Even though the results of the polls might lead some to think it, this isn't a case of arguing whether 2+2 = 5 where one side can and should be proven wrong. There is no way to prove wrong the person who says "This makes me feel bad about myself." Why would you want to in the first place?