At the close of November's observance of Native American Heritage Month, a self-appointed spokesman for Native Americans has delivered the latest attack on the Washington Redskins' nickname. Julian Brave Noisecat, who's associated with open-borders journalist/advocate Jorge Ramos, writes on The Undefeated blog, "Washington's football luck won't change until the team's mascot does." His attempt to speak for all Native Americans flies in the face of a 2016 Washington Post poll that revealed 90 percent of Native Americans are "not bothered" by the NFL team's nickname.
Noisecat, who writes for Ramos's Real America web TV show, ignores The Post's poll, but cites studies saying Indian nicknames are harmful to the health of young Native Americans. "Some people just don't realize how destructive, stereotypical and painful these logos are," he complains.
The commentary on the ESPN blog says many Indian nicknames are disappearing, in part due to a 2005 NCAA policy punishing universities not doing away with Indian nicknames. Nevertheless, he's concerned that Indian sports nicknames are not disappearing fast enough.
Sounding like a mouthpiece for the nine percent in The Post's poll who were bothered by the Redskins' nickname, Noisecat writes, "For many Native Americans, this marks a welcome, if not glacial, sea change in popular culture." He cites a study by university researchers at Stanford, Arizona and Michigan that suggests "American Indian mascots are harmful because they remind American Indians of the limited ways others see them, and in this way, constrain how they can see themselves.":
"Peer-reviewed studies have shown that these depictions are detrimental to the mental health of Native youth, who demonstrate a lower sense of self- and community worth and express a more pessimistic outlook on their own opportunities for achievement after exposure to these images. And among non-Native people, Indian mascots strengthen prevailing biases."
The studies dealt with the response of American Indian students to Pocahontas, the Cleveland Indians' longtime logo Chief Wahoo (abandoned by the team after the 2018 season) and Chief Illiniwek (the University of Illinois mascot from 1926 to 2007). The Washington Redskins were not included. Students at some Native American high schools would disagree with the study, like the Wyoming Indian High School Chiefs, who are proudly selling apparel bearing their nickname.
Noisecat associates Indian nicknames with strengthening biases against people plagued by "intergenerational psychological wounds" — including poverty, suicide, alcoholism, domestic abuse and more. He writes that the word "Redskins" is a racial slur, a disputable claim when viewed in the lens of The Post's 2016 poll.
Lamenting that 2018 has been a quiet year for activists seeking name changes, Noisecat is discouraged that the Redskins "have mounted an aggressive public relations campaign to reframe the team’s name as honorific." Prior to their Nov. 18 game against Houston, Washington held a ceremony to honor members of the Blackfeet Nation. The Redskins' logo is a depiction of their ancestral Chief Two Guns White Calf (depicted in photo above).