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Native American Leader Opposing Redskins, Building 'Oz' Casino

By    |   Friday, 06 February 2015 06:35 PM

The same Native American tribe that is lobbying for the Washington Redskins to change its name is set to build a casino with a "Wizard of Oz" theme, despite the author's racist past.

L. Frank Baum wrote "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz" and was born in the Syracuse, New York, area where the Oneida Indian Nation is located, but he also advocated for a genocide of Native Americans, The Washington Post reports.

"The Whites, by law of conquest, by justice of civilization, are masters of the American continent, and the best safety of the frontier settlements will be secured by the total annihilation of the few remaining Indians," Baum wrote in late 1890 in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer in South Dakota, while working as the paper's publisher.

"Why not annihilation? Their glory has fled, their spirit broken, their manhood effaced; it’s better that they should die than live the miserable wretches that they are," he wrote.

Baum doubled down on the comments two weeks later when he said of the 300 Sioux who were slaughtered at Wounded Knee that the government ought to "wipe these untamed and untameable creatures from the face of the earth," the Post reports.

Oneida leader Ray Halbritter said the reason the Native American tribe is building the Yellow Brick Road Casino is to serve as a symbol of reconciliation because Baum's descendants have apologized for his racist remarks.

In 2006, Gita Morena and Mac Hudson, two of Baum's descendants, traveled to South Dakota, apologized to the Sioux Native Americans, and asked for forgiveness, the Post reports.

"I think that’s a wonderful message — that we’re able to overcome by repentance and by forgiveness," Halbritter said. "It’s looking forward rather than backward."

But some Native Americans don't agree.

"How can they be so ignorant of history and traitors to their own race?" wrote Ernestine Chasing Hawk, who is a Sioux descendant. "Would the Jews build a casino to honor Adolph Hitler?" the Post reports.

The casino is not intended to whitewash what Baum wrote, Halbritter said, adding that his children's books do include noble themes, which also has commercial appeal.

"We are aware that some people have difficulty separating the good from the bad," he said. "I think we can separate and try to extract the good and focus on the good."

Halbritter has been outspoken in advocating that the Washington Redskins change its name because it is offensive to Native Americans.

In an opinion piece the Oneida leader wrote for The Washington Post in 2013, he said the man who gave the Redskins its name was a "famous segregationist." 

Halbritter claims that "the word [redskins] is a slur that was screamed at Native Americans as they were forced from their lands at gunpoint."

"Changing the name is not some minor issue," he wrote, adding that it is an issue that "is not going away."

According to the Post, "redskins" was a derogatory term that Baum used a few times in own his writings about Native Americans, although he mostly referred to them as Indians.

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The same Native American tribe that is lobbying for the Washington Redskins to change its name is set to build a casino with a "Wizard of Oz" theme, despite the author's racist past.
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Friday, 06 February 2015 06:35 PM
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