A poll in the Washington Post has found that nine out of 10 Native Americans are not offended by the Washington Redskins name.
The poll surveyed 504 people who identified as Native American in every state in the US, and reflects the findings of a similar poll in 2004. Washington’s NFL team has been under pressure for some time over its name, which many say is offensive. The survey also asked respondents whether the word “Redskin” itself is disrespectful: 21% said it is.
Washington’s owner, Dan Snyder, has long resisted calls to change the team’s name, and said the poll backed up his stance.
“The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride,” said Snyder in a statement. “Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.”
Suzan Harjo, who has challenged the team’s trademark protection, said she did not agree with the poll’s methods.
“I don’t accept self-identification,” Harjo, a member of the Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee tribes, told the Post. “People say they’re native, and they are not native, for all sorts of reasons. Those of us who are leaders in Indian Country know who we are representing. We also know if we are representing a minority view. And this is not the case here. Our experience is completely the opposite of the  Annenberg poll and this one. I just reject the whole thing.”
Ray Halbritter and Jackie Pata, two other figures in the name-change movement, also pointed to the impact imagery in sports can have on young Native Americans.
“Social science research and first-hand experience has told us that this kind of denigration has both visible and unseen consequences for Native Americans in this country,” they said in a statement. “This is especially the case for children, who were not polled and who are in a particularly vulnerable position to be bullied by the NFL. It is the 21st century – it is long overdue for Native Americans to be treated not as mascots or targets of slurs, but instead as equals.”
The Washington Post poll found that opinions among Native Americans towards the team’s name were consistent regardless of factors such as age, income and level of education. Non-Native Americans are, in fact, more likely to favor a name change. A 2014 ESPN poll found that 23% of the US population thought the team should change its name. Barack Obama, the Guardian and the Washington Post itself are among those to have urged Snyder to change the team’s name.
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