Summary: Just before the 2014 Superbowl, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) released this PSA targeting the use of the name "Redskins" for the famed NFL franchise. The video moves through a great variety of images of American Indians with words that they use to describe themselves (e.g. proud, forgotten, Navajo, Blackfoot, survivor, patriot, Sitting Bull, mother, father, son, daughter, chief, Apache, etc.). The final words from the narrator are: "Native Americans call themselves many things; the one thing they don't ..." and the video ends by focusing on a Washington Redskins football helmet, and refers the viewer to Change the Mascot. For a full analysis of this specific topic, see the Washington Redskins Name Controversy. But more broadly, and like many other posts on this site, this debate begs the question: who has the right to represent whom? For example, Adrienne Keene, a member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, and author of the Native Appropriations Blog, insists that it must be "the right of the community to represent themselves" (see our full analysis of an interview with Keene). While proponents argue that the mascots of professional sports teams are forms of appreciation, Keene counters that the such representations are actually "a continuing form of colonialism and oppression." Like the NCAI, Keene argues they are racist depictions of Native Americans and that they "shrink an extremely diverse community of over 565 tribes in the United States alone down into one stereotypical image of the plains Indian." Viewers may also be interested in our other videos examining depictions of American Indians in Hollywood films, Native appropriation in a parade, or this satire from South Park.
Submitted By: Paul Dean