Did anyone outside of the Upper Midwest notice the big demonstration yesterday against the Washington Redskins’ name?
The protest should force the team to reconsider its name. The assertion comes from Mike Wise, a columnist for the Washington Post. He met Joe Horse Capture at the demonstration .
Supporters of keeping the name are, by and large, good and decent people. They would call for help if you were in trouble. But other than to fiercely protect their right to remain believing they are good people, how admitting a symbol or name they treasured all their lives might actually hurt someone else, I can’t think of any other reason not to acknowledge Joe Horse Capture for who he is and not what you want him to be.
So that even after the masses gather, drum and sing here this weekend, the newest rationalization takes root — “Well, it was Minnesota. They have, like, 11 tribes in that state.” And the continued marginalization and degradation of the people who want the name gone can continue, at least until the next social conscience flare-up makes us uneasy.
Why is Washington’s team name still okay? Because people haven’t met or heard Joe Horse Capture. They haven’t met or heard Tara Houska, an Ojibwe lobbyist for Native American tribal rights who also lives in Washington and returned to her University of Minnesota alma mater for a week of events targeting the name and the protest.
She cringes when she is lectured about “more pressing issues in Indian Country,” when, in fact, she and most advocates of taking back their culture fight all those other issues with the same fervor.
“The name change is just the lowest-hanging fruit,” Houska said. “We should have control of our own identities at the minimum. And look how hard we have to fight for that. Really, what other race do people get to dress up as me?”
“They are still here,” Wise told his East Coast audience of the Native Americans who showed up to the demonstration in Minneapolis.
They survived colonization and genocide. There were fewer than 250,000 Native Americans left at the turn of the 20th century. Today, there are more than 5 million. And the one purpose uniting many this weekend is they have to come to say they are actually dishonored by the name of Snyder’s team.
The questions shouldn’t revolve around how many show up or how much the noise of their gathering reverberates. The questions are for us, the non-Native Americans:
Now that we know, why won’t we listen?
The racists, not surprisingly, turned out in force in reaction to his article, disproving at least one of Wise’s assertions.