Native American team names (like Braves) pass poll test

This iconic NFL helmet does not offend the vast majority of Native Americans, according to a Washington Post poll. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

This iconic NFL helmet does not offend the vast majority of Native Americans, according to a Washington Post poll. (Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

The slippery, sliding scale of what offends and what doesn’t tilted steeply last week.

Among the beneficiaries – unintended to the specific purpose of this poll – were the Braves, their marketing department and anyone who broke into a tomahawk chop when the team used to mount a rally.

A Washington Post poll of Native Americans showed that nine out of 10 took no offense to the nickname of that city’s football team, the Redskins. Further, 70 percent said they did not feel “Redskin” was disrespectful to Indians and 80 percent said they would not be offended if called that by someone outside their heritage.

And, heck, the team name “Braves” is a relative honorific compared with “Redskins.”

The findings – debunked by various Native American activists – seemed to bolster an oft-disputed 2004 poll that arrived at essential the same conclusion.

I won’t lie, I was a little surprised. Being somewhere in the middle on the White American Sensitivity Scale, I took it on faith that “Redskin” clearly was a pejorative. Even the dictionary notes that the word is usually offensive. But if those most affected by the term aren’t offended, who am I to feel wrong about employing it?

A Post associate editor, who often took his town’s football team to task for its nickname, faced the same kind of sudden directional change. Wrote Robert McCartney: “It’s unsettling to learn now that I vented all that energy and passion on behalf of such a small fraction of the Native American population.”

While not as volatile elsewhere, the issue does touch every team that still uses some form of Native American imagery.

The Braves occasionally are asked to answer for their name and the chop, but the controversy actually may have peaked way back in 1995 when the World Series pitted the Braves against the Cleveland Indians. The target of teams that have employed such images in the past as Chief Noc-A-Homa and Chief Wahoo was irresistible.

Appropriating someone else’s culture for use as a mascot still doesn’t seem like a terribly high-minded idea.

But, as my Post brother concluded, energies and outrages may be better applied elsewhere.

Turns out, considering the current state of affairs, their name is one of the least offensive things about the Braves.

Reader Comments 0

15 comments
Bogan
Bogan

Speaking of Native American teams, UNC just won men and women national championships in lacrosse.  And, Maryland was the opponent in both games.  

almmanduane75
almmanduane75

I'm a white boy and I'm not offended by those that call me a white boy.


it's actually fine with me, because it means the white race still gets under the skin of those that choose to use the term.


Shows me they are still as ignorant as always.


Have a nice day.  CHOW!!

JMitch788
JMitch788

Someone should poll a representative sampling of all falcons because I think they want their name back.

vespajet
vespajet

Meanwhile, calling your team the Fighting Irish is fine....  

TOJacket
TOJacket

Hoooooooeeeee, Ho, Ho, Ho Ho...........Hoooooeeee, Ho, Ho, Ho,HO!!

Gomez Addams
Gomez Addams

Well, the real life cowboys out west don't seem to mind The Dallas Cowboys name, so I'm with the majority of our Indian friends on this one.  (And by the way, I went to the National Indian Museum in Washington a couple of years ago and THEY said it's all right to them Indians!)

StillBill
StillBill

Such team nicknames should be considered as honoring Native Americans.  Without them Native Americans would be totally forgotten by many people.

TideDawg
TideDawg

@StillBill Right on! Those few who oppose the use of references to our Native Americans carry the nickname "Trouble makers", and shouldn't be given the time of day. I have a little "Redskin" in me from my Great Grandmother(A full blooded Native American) I'm only offended by anyone that wants to abolish any references to Native Americans.

St Simons he-ne-ha
St Simons he-ne-ha

"the team name “Braves” is a relative honorific compared with “Redskins.”

good, if you 'get' this, then you 'get' it

and i agree with the poll in your article

UltraElf
UltraElf

the gay of the week, the sex change of the month, the tranny of the year, no more morals in this country.

Kenny Powers
Kenny Powers

Most of this "outcry" is from the far left agenda of Espn. About time they give out another award for someone for being gay or changing their gender huh Espn. Nothing against those people but does it really warrant an award

TOJacket
TOJacket

Wow.......can't slip nothing past ole Hum?.......these names don't bother anyone except the stirrers of the pot!