Dear Commissioner Goodell, Feb
I read yesterday that two members
of Parliament have decided to join the ill-informed anti-“Redskin” name-change
campaign and voice their concerns.
It seems that Parliamentary
members Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin don’t know that the “ChangeTheMascot” group who
met with them last month were simply the front of an organization which is both
funded by gambling cash and centered on achieving the radical philosophy of
If you’ve never heard of
DeColonization before, you must know that it is a philosophical-based movement
that seeks to remove ALL native images and names from any non-native entity to
include eventually taking back all North American lands. In this case, a casino mogul, certain
political interests and one shoe company with anemic North American sales have figured
out how to work together in co-opting this disturbing movement for its own
political and financial gains.
I wonder if these two European-based
politicians know that they have joined forces with a $17 Billion dollar European
shoe manufacturer in calling for a team name change. But isn’t it ironic that Adidas maintains its name as a derivation of its founder “Adi”
Dassler who was both a Nazi Party member and maker of footwear for the German
armed forces -- a group that attempted to destroy the culture of the British
people much like casino mogul Ray Halbritter is doing to those who are
attempting to maintain our proud and positive Redskin heritage.
Further, both Adidas and
these MPs have been silent for years as professional rugby teams with indigenous-based
names such as Zwarte Duivels, Diablos Rojos, the Amazons or Os Tupis routinely
come to England. Moreover, Smeeth and Austin must realize that London has its very
own professional Redskins team which, amazingly, was founded in the very same
year as Washington D.C.’s team.
Hypocrisy aside, according to
the protest letter the MPs sent to you, the two politicians claim that they had
come to “learn” that the name Redskins pertains to “the production of a piece
of flesh as proof of kill by bounty hunters.”
While here in America even the expert testifying for name change in the Trademark
hearing was quoted as saying that Redskins, “…didn’t have anything to do with
those stories about bounties for bloody Indian scalps.”
In fact, the research done by
the Smithsonian Institute on the origin of “Redskin” was prompted, in part, by
this claim. Linguistic researchers there
found no evidence to support the “scalp” means Redskin claim.
So, while this often-repeated
canard is protected speech in the United States, British Law may yet hold
Halbritter’s “changethemascot” visitors in Contempt of Parliament as it’s illegal
to deliberately mislead a member of their legislature or a legislative
Unfortunately, the uninformed,
or those with an agenda, have routinely stripped our unique Native American
identities. We’re guessing that Smeeth
and Austin belong to the “uniformed” group but could use your assistance,
Commissioner, in reaching out to them.
You might note back to them that
our Navajo children attend not one but two local high schools which proudly call
themselves the Redskins. And please pass
along that, as a Navajo, I’ve been taught the existence of a red “world”; and that
our war dance - ushered by our Navajo gods Nayenezghani and Tqobajishchlni - demands
the painting our warrior’s skin with red clay. By the action of this sacred ceremony alone we
become literal Redskinned warriors, which is of great cultural importance when
facing down evil spirits or our enemies.
Smeeth and Austin need to
comprehend that our “red” concepts are powerful and meaningful within our
society and have been passed on for generations. They should know that many of our continent’s
native nations self-describe as Red-skinned, Red People, or Red Painted People,
including members of the Apache, Choctaw, Houma, Beothuk, and Red Fire just to
name a few.
What Smeeth and Austin fail
to realize is that we are as distinctive in our dress, language, and customs as
Romanians are from Norwegians, or as British are from Italians. It’s insensitive to lump us all together and
assume we all think or act as monolithic people as the Halbritter group would
like them to believe. Their politically
expedient sentiment does not represent the Navajo or any other red-centric
Native American. It is not appropriate
for them to weigh in on this topic. And
they certainly do not speak on our behalf of the 90 percent of Native Americans
who told the Annenberg School of Public Policy that they had no issue with the
These points may seem trivial
to them, but I assure you that they are of vital importance to our people. Once our red culture is snuffed out here in
the United States . . . it will be gone forever as we have no European
Continent to retreat back to when we desire a strong dose of our original culture
as so many others can.
It’s worth remembering that,
in 1710, a Native American delegation visited England’s Queen Anne to educate
her on the issues of North America. Likewise,
on behalf of the Native American Guardians Association, I challenge Smeeth and
Austin to learn about our ways—all of our ways, not just the talking points of
an agenda-driven special-interest group.
I propose the MPs Smeeth and Austin fly us to London and extend the same
courtesy to hear our side of the Redskin story much as they did to those well-funded
activists who visited them to demean the Redskins in their continuing push for
Mark Yellowhorse Beasley
Navajo, Phoenix Az.
Also standing in support of this letter and its
message are Navajo Nation members:
Jonathan Tso Crystal Tso Aaron Henderson Jeff Charley Shelby Benally Lisa Benally
letter is on point, and I strongly endorse our fight to keep our Native
(Fist People) culture and traditions alive! We must continue this fight
to preserve our Native history to ensure that our walk in this sacred
circle of life that our tracks are deep with purpose and we can look back and
truly say: "may you walk in this sacred circle of life make a difference
in the walk of another - especially our children."
Walt "Red Hawk" Brown
(Nottoway) Indian Tribe