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Native view: NFL team's racist name must change

The results of a recent poll indicated a majority of people want the National Football League team in Washington, D.C., to retain its name, as the News Tribune reported.

The results of a recent poll indicated a majority of people want the National Football League team in Washington, D.C., to retain its name, as the News Tribune reported.

Well, if you polled people about the smoking ban, I bet most would want it removed, also, but sometimes you have to do the right thing.

It is time for Washington's NFL team name to go. (I refuse to use the name.)

The name comes from Colonial days when there was a bounty on Native people. You were paid so much for adult males, adult females and children. It became too cumbersome to deal with bodies, so the government said you only had to bring in the hair. The problem was that people killed other non-Native people and brought in their hair. So the government decided that in order to get a bounty a little skin had to accompany the hair. Then the government could verify the person was Native.

When you came in they would ask, "How many red*****s you got?" The term became part of the language. I think you can see why, as Native people, we might find that offensive. And to have it used in the capital of our nation is the biggest slap in the face of all.

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Many people will say the name is tradition.

So was slavery.

Some say it is only a symbol.

So is the stars-and-bars rebel flag, right?

As director of the First Nations Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior, I have been asked to talk about this many times. Invariably, someone will come up to me after the talk and will start pointing their finger in my chest, telling me, "You people shouldn't be offended. We're honoring you!"

This, of course, is a great example of white privilege. Why should they -- or anyone -- be able to tell me what does or does not offend me? How can they honor something about which they know very little?

Studies have shown the effects these logos and mascots have on Native children's self-image and identity. One out of five Native children attempts suicide -- not thinks about suicide but attempts it. These logos and mascots are not only offensive, they are dangerous.

Gary Johnson of Foxboro is director of the First Nations Center at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

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