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 owner of the Redskins drops the moniker due to its arguably base racist meaning, then the state of Oklahoma needs to be held to the same standard.
As Deneen Borelli noted earlier this week, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board ruled that the name “Redskins” was “disparaging of Native Americans” and that the team’s trademark protections should be revoked. Yet as John Torres wrote at Florida Today, the word Oklahoma, in the language of the Choctaw, translates to “the state belonging to Red People.”
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. When the franchise was based in Boston, William Henry “Lone Star” Dietz was its head coach. In 1933, the Boston Herald ran a story titled “Braves Pro Gridmen to Be Called Redskins.” In it, the newspaper wrote, “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 made to honor the fighting spirit of Native Americans.
Some academics openly question whether Dietz was actually an American Indian or merely a “poser,” but none of his doubters 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 have beeb accepted to the prestigious Carlisle Indian Industrial School of Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he was a teammate of Olympic champion Jim Thorpe.