Tags: red mesa navajo high school | moniker | redskins

Red Mesa Navajo High School Moniker: Team Is Proud of 'Redskins' Name

By    |   Wednesday, 29 October 2014 02:05 PM

Red Mesa Navajo High School in Arizona is proud of its football team's moniker: the Redskins.

Unlike the NFL's Washington Redskins, the high school football players are predominantly Native American, and live in a community composed primarily by members of the Navajo Nation, The Washington Post reported Sunday.

About an hour's drive from Red Mesa lives Amanda Blackhorse, lead plaintiff in a legal battle seeking to revoke the Washington Redskins' trademark, and pressure the team to change its name. Blackhorse, a Navajo herself, finds the name deeply offensive — putting her at odds with much of the Navajo in Red Mesa, most of whom are barely familiar with her campaign.

"I don’t know what she means that it’s a racial slur," said Mckenzie Lameman, 17, Red Mesa’s student government president. "It’s not a racist slur if it originates from a Native American tribe . . . It’s always used in the context of sports."

"I don’t find it derogatory. It’s a source of pride," said Superintendent Tommie Yazzie.

This season, students and faculty were offered tickets to the Washington Redskins game when the team visited Arizona to play the Cardinals.

Before the big game, Blackhorse called Red Mesa school officials, telling them they were being used by the NFL team.

"I told him they’d be mocked and treated as tokens and pawns," Blackhorse said.

Happy to treat their disadvantaged students to an exciting trip to an NFL game, school officials rejected Blackhorse's advice, and roughly 150 students and staff attended the matchup.

"We just let [Blackhorse] talk," said Al Begay, Red Mesa’s athletic director. "This protest feels like it’s coming from one person."

When the students and staff arrived at the stadium, Blackhorse and a group of anti-mascot protesters met them in the parking lot with picket signs and bullhorns. Many of the students report that they were taunted and mocked for wearing free Washington Redskins hats and T-shirts.

"I just kept my head down," said Kelvin Yazzie, a Red Mesa senior lineman. "[The protesters] were calling me a sellout."

According to a recent survey conducted by the school on the mascot issue, 88 percent of students and 71 percent of faculty members favored keeping the Redskins name and mascot. 60 percent of students disagreed that Redskins is a slur, one-third said they weren’t sure, and 7 percent said it's offensive.

In 2004, a Annenberg Public Policy Center poll found that 9 out of 10 Native Americans did not find the Redskins name offensive.

Outgoing Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly believes the so-called controversy is a "non-issue," according to one of his advisers.

"There’s more important things to worry about than 'Redskins,'" said Arlo Begay, a senior and wide receiver.

The students and staff say that clean drinking water, better education, and a host of other issues come before any concern they have about their mascot or a mascot a world away in Washington, D.C.

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Red Mesa Navajo High School in Arizona is proud of its football team's moniker: the Redskins.
red mesa navajo high school, moniker, redskins
Wednesday, 29 October 2014 02:05 PM
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