One of the oft-repeated statistics in the on-going debate over the name “Redskins” is that very few Native Americans are actually offended by the term. You’ve likely heard Roger Goodell, or Dan Snyder, or Rick Reilly claim that only 10 percent of Native Americans object to the term. Even those who have argued for changing the name have generally accepted this statistic as fact, stating their case as ‘well, isn’t 10 percent still too much?” And honestly, that would be an interesting conversation to have, but as it turns out, we don’t need to have it, because all that talk about Native Americans supporting the name is a great big pile of horseshit. Try and look surprised.
According to a recent survey conducted by California State University, 67 percent of Native Americans find the name Redskins as well as the imagery around it to be racist. Additionally, 65.5 percent of respondents believed that non-Natives using the phrase was racist, compared to just 17.8 percent who didn’t.
But what about the infamous 2004 survey that so many defenders of the name have cited, in which it stated that only nine percent of Native Americans found the name to be offensive? Well, as it turns out that study was a lot of bunk. As the Buzzfeed article points out, no effort was made to verify the tribal status of the respondents. So basically, any white dude with a tan could respond to the survey and say they were fine with the name, and be counted as a Native American. Conversely, Professor James Fenelon, who put the study together, put verification of respondents as a top priority, making sure every respondent was an “active enrolled member of a tribal group.” One more note about that infamous 2004 study: it also entirely left out Alaska, where more than half of all identified Native Americans live.
The debunking of the 2004 study, as well as the presence of new information that a shit-ton of native Americans are angry about the name is bad news for the pro-Redskins crowd. The 2004 survey has been a huge part of their argument for years. It made it all-too-easy to frame any non-Native person who disliked the term as a perpetually cranky member of the PC Police. “Hey, you’re more offended by than they are,” they’d say. Another popular one: “who are you to tell these proud people what they should be offended by?”
Both of those arguments are out the window now, and Snyder and his ilk will have to defend the name knowing that a huge chunk of the people they claim to be honoring are really fucking pissed off. My guess is, whatever faint shreds of credibility their arguments may have still held will evaporate rather quickly.