The controversy over the nickname of the Washington, DC football team has just been taken to a new legal level, but at least one media organization is noting that if the ownership of the Washington Redskins drop the moniker due to its arguably base racist meaning, then the state of Oklahoma needs to be held to the same standard. As reported by Florida Today/Gannett News on June 19, 2014, the trademark nickname of the NFL franchise has just been nixed by the Feds.
In a recent 2-1 ruling from the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, the federal government has ruled the word “Redskins” was “disparaging of Native Americans” and that the team’s trademark protections should be revoked. Yet as reporter John Torres of Gannett News cited, if the name of the state of Oklahoma was held to the same standard, the people and government of the Sooner State would soon be in search of a new name.
According to ChoctawSchool.com (authorized by the Choctaw Nation), the tribe’s words for “people” and “red” are “okla” and “humma.” Per the Choctaw Nation, “The State of Oklahoma” literally translates to “The state belonging to Red People.” Also cited was the Oklahoma community of Tuskahoma. The name is derived from the words “tvshka” meaning “warrior” and “humma” meaning “red”. The name literally means “red warrior.”
The sports-centered internet portal Football Nation published a history of the Washington Redskins with an emphasis on the how and why of the current team name. As referenced, while the franchise was based out of Boston, William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz was named head coach on Mar. 8, 1933. A few months later, the Boston Herald reported “Braves Pro Gridmen to Be Called Redskins.” According to the Herald, “The explanation is that the change was made to avoid confusion with the Braves baseball team and that the team is to be coached by an Indian, Lone Star Dietz, with several Indian players.” Many supporters of the current team name claim that the choice of “Redskins” was to honor the fighting spirit of Native Americans.
Despite many present-day academics openly question if Dietz was actually an American Indian or merely a “poser” none of his critics can explain why he attended school initially at Oklahoma’s Chilocco Indian Agricultural School. Nor can those who question his lineage fully explain how a non-Indian could be accepted to the prestigious Carlisle Indian Industrial School of Carlisle, Pennsylvania where he was a teammate of Olympic champion Jim Thorpe.
As the American pop singer Ray Stevens illustrated in his 1970 hit “Everything is Beautiful,” utilizing a particular word doesn’t necessarily always mean a derogatory or insulting meaning is meant.
“Jesus love the little children
All the children of the world
Red and yellow, black and white
They are precious in His sight
Jesus loves the little children of the world”