Redsksin at Patriots - Much More Than A Football Game - It's a Family Reunion

The Redskins vs. The Patriots - Sunday’s Unique NFL Battle of Historic Namesake “Cousins”

A Perfect Celebration of Native American Heritage Month


WASHINGTON D.C. -- Some NFL fans may see Sunday’s matchup of the struggling Redskins (3-4) lead by Kirk Cousins (9 TDs) at the Patriots (7-0) lead by Tom Brady (20 TDs) as a football 19th ranked “David” vs. 1st ranked “Goliath” . 

While gridiron enthusiast may pan watching what looks like a lopsided matchup, those curious about how the Redskins and Patriots are historically related should take note as these they have much more in common than any other two teams in the NFL.

The most commonly known fact, albeit surprisingly not well known, is that both franchises call Massachusetts their state of origin.  A lesser known fact is that these teams will be playing under the watchful eye of an Algonquian Warrior.  Matter of fact, it is the same Native American representative who just so happened to watch these same NFL’s teams play in the shadow of the Green Monster at a time when each organization called Boston’s Fenway Park home so many decades ago.

What’s that… you didn’t know about the Native American Warrior tribute happening on Sunday? 

Well, while November is actually Native American Heritage month, the unique warrior honorific is displayed on the Massachusetts state flag which will fly over Gillette Stadium on Sunday.  It’s the same native representative who has graced the New England region since the early 1600s when the region’s unique tribes (one of those tribes is actually state’s namesake of Massachusett) were first encountered in a region known by archeologists to be inhabited thousands of years ago by the Red Paint People.  

The Massachusetts’s motto which surrounds this warrior on the flag gives us our next Redskin and Patriot tie.  It reads, “Ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem” which translates to, “By the sword we seek peace, but peace only under liberty.”  If we explore the ideal of Liberty - especially in Massachusetts - it is most famously manifested in the Son’s of Liberty who – like the NFL Patriots and Redskins – also called Boston home. 

The Son’s of Liberty arose in 1765 to fight the unfair tax burdens and, after eight years of running battles, they were first referenced by Ben Franklin simply as “Patriots”.  While some might know that Son’s of Liberty gave us the NFL Patriots’ name, most don’t know that they also spawned the Order of the Red Men which is America’s oldest Congressionally recognized fraternal organization.

It is the Order of the Red Men proudly credit their namesake to the painted warriors living in and around New England who gave the young nation so much.  This group traces its roots to the Boston Tea Party where warrior Colonists dressed and painted themselves like the local native warriors they honored.  They describe their beginnings as “patriots [who] concealed their identities and worked "underground" to help establish freedom and liberty in the early Colonies. They patterned themselves after the great Iroquois Confederacy...”

The unique warriors of the northeast U.S. region, called Redskins, were not only heralded on the Massachusetts flag and in the state’s name, but also when the University of Massachusetts was established as the “Redmen” in 1947.  Like the NFL’s Boston Redskins, the University sought to honor of their region’s unique relationship with native nations which not only provided the Colonists the governing framework for their new democracy via the Iroquois Confederacy’s Great Law of Peace but that native warrior gave their woodland warfare tactics to young American leaders like George Washington which allowed the Colonial Army to win despite being outgunned and out-numbered.


Thus, Sunday’s game gives all NFL fans an opportunity to consider that without Native American training, tactics and the gift of their democratic framework we’d probably be playing British style rugby on Sunday – not football.  Either way we are in for a historic treat in Foxborough Ma. Not since 2007 has the only NFL native-themed team honoring this continent’s unique red-painted warriors competed in a state named after a native tribe where the Son’s of Liberty made Boston the nation’s historic basis for appreciating both the NFL Redskins and Patriots as cousins.

  Story by Andre Billeaudeaux.  Andre is a retired veteran residing in Virginia.  During his 29 year career, he was at times a military journalist, television show host and magazine editor.  His published topics of interest include political communications, history, national identity and racism amongst others.  His current focus is on the history and traditions of Native Americans as well as the politics behind the name-change campaign.  He is the Senior Writer for Save the Name. Some of his published print and broadcast work can be seen here

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