While the heated debate over the Washington Redskins name has once sparked up again, a lot of myths and flat-out lies have been made about the meaning behind the team’s name. Though there’s a list that could go on for pages, here are the five most popular fabrications debunked.
MYTH: Fan logo alterations such as the Indian drinking or facepalming were meant to offend Native Americans.
FACT : Alterations made to the Redskins logo which shows the Native American facpalming was in fact created by ESPN during 2009 to mock the Redskins horrendous 4-12 record. Additionally, the edits made of the Indian drinking were made by fans to not mock Native Americans who have drinking problems, but to express how to deal with a team that bad.
MYTH: The name Redskins offends the majority of the Native American population.
FACT : In 2004 the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Election Survey found that only 9% of Native Americans found the name Redskins offensive and or racist. Native Americans who speak out in support of the Redskins have been kept out of public eye so only those against it have a voice.
MYTH: Washington’s Native American logo is an offensive caricature much like Cleveland’s [Indians] Chief Wahoo, and Atlanta’s [Braves] Screaming Savage.
FACT : By 1965 the Redskins moved away from the Native American logo and changed to a spear (1965-1969), followed by the Vince Lombardi “R” logo in 1970. Walter Wetzel, President of the NCAI (National Congress of American Indians) at the time went to the Washington Redskins with photos of Indians in full headdress’ and said, “I’d like to see an Indian on your helmets.” The Redskins drew up a logo from the features within the photo and was approved by Wetzel who said, “it made us all so proud.”
MYTH: Redskins came from the time when bounties were given for Indian people’s scalp’s during the French and Indian War (1754-1763).
FACT : The term “red” was adopted by French and English by the 1750′s after the reference to “red man” was made in 1725 by a Taensa chief. According to the French (1725), the Taensa referred to themselves as “Red Men.” Three chiefs of the Piankashaws wrote (1769), “…You think that I am an orphan; but all the people of these rivers and all the redskins will learn of my death.” In 1807 French Crow (Wahpekute, Santee Sioux) said, “I am a redskin…”
MYTH: George Preston Marshall had the team’s name changed to Redskins in order to cater to the racist South as the Southern most team in the NFL.
FACT : After leaving Braves Field where the team played, Marshall had the team name changed from Braves to Redskins in order to pay homage to the Boston Redsox and Fenway Park, while also keeping the Native American imagery from when they were the Braves. Marshall didn’t move the then Boston Redskins (1933) to Washington D.C. until 1937, when they ultimately became the Washington Redskins.