“An Indian from the State of Montana created that logo, and did it the right way.”
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The Washington Redskins have been one of the best-known and best-loved franchises in the National Football League for 81 years, have played in 11 NFL Championship Games and won five World Championships. Today, thousands of Redskins alumni and millions of supporters keep the team’s spirit and traditions alive.
Here at RedskinsFacts.com, we’re thinking football fans. We’re passionate about the game, and even more passionate about the “Burgundy and Gold.” None of us believe in offending or discriminating against people of any ethnicity for any reason.
We believe the Redskins name deserves to stay. It epitomizes all the noble qualities we admire about Native Americans—the same intangibles we expect from Washington’s gridiron heroes on game day. Honor. Loyalty. Unity. Respect. Courage. And more. On this page, you can read more about the storied history of the Redskins identity.
History of Our Name
Before all the fanfare associated with Redskins football, there was the name itself.
- More than a decade ago, in the authoritative linguistic survey “I Am A Red-Skin: The Adoption of a Native American Expression (1769-1826),” Ives Goddard—the senior linguist and curator at the Smithsonian Institution—concluded that the word “redskins” was created by Native Americans, and that it was first used as an inclusive expression of solidarity by multi-tribal delegations who traveled to Washington, D.C. to negotiate national policy towards Native Americans. “The actual origin of the word (redskin) is entirely benign,” Goddard is quoted as saying.
- Prominent Indian leaders of the 19th century—from Sitting Bull (a Hunkpapa Lakota Chief) to French Crow (Principal Chief of the Wahpekute band of Santee Sioux) to Tecumseh (a Shawnee chief)—are documented as having referred to themselves as “Red Men” or “Red-skins.”
- On the inaugural Redskins team in 1933, four players and then-head coach William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz identified themselves as Native Americans.
History of Our Logo
- The Redskins logo in use today was first designed in 1971 in close consultation with Native American leaders. Among those who unanimously approved and voiced praise for the logo was Walter "Blackie" Wetzel, a former President of the National Congress of American Indians and Chairman of the Blackfeet Nation. Years earlier, Mr. Wetzel had been deeply involved with U.S. President John F. Kennedy in the movement for civil liberties, civil rights, and economic freedom for all. In 2014, Mr. Wetzel's son Don commented, “It needs to be said that an Indian from the State of Montana created that [Redskins] logo, and did it the right way. It represents the Red Nation, and it's something to be proud of.”
- Similarly dignified images of Native Americans in traditional headdress are still in use by other American organizations, as well. For example, The National Congress of American Indians—which, coincidentally, was founded after the Washington Redskins football team—has such a logo.
- High schools on Native American reservations, including Red Mesa High School in Teec Nos Pos, AZ (Navajo Nation) and Wellpinit High School in Wellpinit, WA (Spokane Tribe), continue to embrace and use the Redskins name and logo.
The Redskins Today
It’s been determined time and again over the years that The Washington Redskins’ use of the terms “Redskin” and “Redskins” in connection with its brand has been done respectfully.
- Between October 2003 and September 2004, the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania (under the direction of a former Chief Washington Correspondent for The New York Times) conducted a national survey of people self-identifying as Native Americans throughout the 48 contiguous U.S. states to gauge responses to the Redskins name. More than 90% of respondents polled said the name was not offensive.
- Recently, the Navajo Code Talkers—who were instrumental in coding communications during World War II — have publicly announced their support for The Washington Redskins’ use of the Redskins name.
- In 2014, the Associated Press conducted a national survey that confirmed 83% of Americans are in favor of keeping the Washington Redskins name.
- An October 2013 study by market research firm Survata found that just 19 percent of respondents supported a name change for the Redskins, while 30% did not, and 51% had no opinion.
- A 2002 poll commissioned by Sports Illustrated found that 75% of American Indians surveyed had no objection to the Redskins name.
For our part, we at RedskinsFacts.com contend that the Redskins name is a self-reference in the context of the football team itself—and in no way should it be considered a slur targeted at a specific ethnic subgroup of Americans.