The Red Mesa Navajo High School moniker erupted Friday night as fans yelled “Let’s go, Redskins!” amid a national debate.
The nation’s largest Native American reservation is promoting it’s Redskins moniker at its Arizona high school, according to the Washington Post. Nearly everyone on the field and in the bleachers belongs to the Navajo Nation. Most of the people in Red Mesa not only reject claims that their team’s nickname is a slur, they have emerged as a potent symbol in the heated debate over the name of the more widely known Washington Redskins NFL NFL team.
It’s all taking place because teachers and students accept the new Red Mesa Navajo High School moniker. They want to keep their football team’s nickname as the Redskins. A recent poll conducted by the school shows that 88 percent of the students and 70 percent of the faculty are in favor of keeping their longtime mascot.
Moreover, 60 percent of the students said they did not agree that “Redskins” is a racial slur. Just 7 percent find the word is offensive, while the rest (33 percent) said they weren’t sure. Red Mesa superintendent Tommie Yazzie told The Washington Post:
“I don’t find it derogatory … It’s a source of pride.”
A sign on a nearby highway advertising the high school moniker with the word “Redskins” along with an image that bears close resemblance to the Washington Redskins logo, according to Red Alert Politics.
Around the country, the NFL team’s name has stirred a contentious debate, with lawmakers, civil rights leaders, and sports journalists protesting the name, and Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder vowing to never change it.
The Red Mesa Navajo High School moniker just might help Snyder. He offered students free tickets and transportation to the Redskins’ Oct. 12 game against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.., and more than half (150) of the school’s 220 students accepted them.
Inside the stadium, Snyder sat in the visiting owner’s box with Ben Shelly, the outgoing president of the Navajo Nation. Outside the stadium, Amanda Blackhorse, who is the lead plaintiff in a case threatening the Washington Redskins’ trademark protection, criticized parents and faculty for allowing the Red Mesa High students to be used as pawns by the NFL team owner in his charm offensive. Blackhorse had a lot to say.
“We want to let our children know who are being used today that we are here for them, … We are not going to disparage them … because they don’t know any better. The adults in that school should know better, and they are not informed of this issue — and shame on them for that.”
Mckenzie Lameman, Red Mesa High School student government president, doesn’t think the moniker is a racist issue.
“I don’t know what she means that it’s a racial slur … It’s not a racist slur if it originates from a Native American tribe. … It’s always used in the context of sports.”
This debate is far from over. Wesley Cobb, a government teacher at Red Mesa High, said the nickname is racist.
“The Washington Redskins is a profoundly racist name, and I think we as educators need to provide some history and context.”
Most parents believe the Red Mesa Navajo High School moniker not a serious issue. Most people said they are worried about other things in the reservation — such as cleaning up their contaminated drinking water, hiring more teachers and updating schools, Ktar notes.