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national congress of american indians leaders speak out against “redskins”

Representing the interests of American Indian and Alaska Native people, seven elected tribal leaders from the National Congress of American Indians speak out against the professional football team from Washington D.C. using the derogatory slur “Redskins” as a team name and mascot.


One of the leaders talks about popular stereotypical representations negatively impacting young people’s sense of identity as Native people. What kinds of popular representations can you think of that represent Native Americans? How are they portrayed in terms of class, gender, sexuality, and religion and spirituality? What historical time are these representations usually situated in? Are there certain times of year when they more and less visible in mainstream media and popular culture? Are Native peoples usually represented as powerful protagonists, foreign villains, or helpless victims?

Cathy Abramson, Councilmember from the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is shown saying, “the simple fact is, we are not redskin, we are beautiful brown-skinned people.” How is she using skin color categories to appeal for a change in team name and mascot?

What other racial categories in the U.S. directly reference skin color? Are racial categories dependent on physical appearance? How has race been historically measured through biology, such as drops of blood, and how is it still conceptualized in these terms today?

Dennis Welsh, Chairman of the Colorado River Indian Tribes, is shown saying, “After all the things we’ve been through, and all the things we’ve done for this country, I think the time has come for us to change that name.” What is he referring to when he says, “all the things we’ve been through” and “all the things we’ve done for this country”?

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