Florida State Goes To The Rose Bowl (mascot, poetry, arts)

Editor’s Note: This poem was sent to Native News Online on January 1 prior to the Florida State Seminoles versus the Oregon Ducks appearance in the 2015 Rose Bowl. Melissa Bennett (Umatilla/Nez Perce/Sac & Fox Nations) is the Portland State University Program Coordinator for the Native American Student & Community Center. She earned her Master of Divinity degree from Marylhurst University along with graduate certificates in Pastoral Care & Counseling and Theological Studies. Melissa is a writer and emerging storyteller and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize after her poem “Church of Frida” appeared in the Fall 2013 issue of Yellow Medicine Review. She is interested in story as medicine, especially its ability to heal historical trauma among indigenous communities. Melissa is a member of the 2014-15 Native American Youth and Family Center LEAD Cohort, the Northwest Indian Storytellers Association, and WordCraft Circle of Native Writers and Storytellers. 

“FSU Goes to the Rose Bowl”

By Melissa Bennett

Unwrapping my new stainless steel French press when you
On the couch three nephews away from me
Unwrap your 1996 flannel shirt and show us all
With a big smile on your face that pints nowhere near me
Your new Florida State Seminoles t-shirt

And that pasty white face
With the two red war paint stripes
With the low hanging feather
And the mouth open in a battle cry or mourning wall

Is the only thing I see in that room

The Christmas tree with its white lights and red ornaments has disappeared
The presents left underneath fade away
The smell of holiday ham and Grandma’s pineapple sauce evaporates
The laughter of your boys as they open gift after gift has never existed
Mom and Dad are gone
Your wife an illusory mirage at the edge of my vision

It is you
And it is me
And it is that shirt

Almost 38 years I have been a daughter in this room
36 of those years I have been your sister
In the time it took you to unwrap your flannel
And reveal your allegiance
To racism and oppression and colonization
Your made me the Indian sister to the white brother
The adopted one
The outside one
The alone one
The one no one listens to
Or cares about

And it all comes back

When I was four and overheard Mom defending her choice to adopt an Indian baby
When I was six and our Great Aunt told her friend standing next to me,
“You know she has that red blood in her”
When I was twelve and everyone began asking, “What are you?”

When I was sixteen and became a “Half Breed” certain to get one of those “Indian scholarships”
When I was twenty and my abusive boyfriend reminded me I was a “Lazy Indian”
When I was thirty-two and a man in my grad school class said,
“I bet you could sneak up barefoot on a white man and slit his throat”
And on Monday when I heard that an Indian man was killed because the police officer mistook his sweetgrass braid for a knife and shot him
And how my friend was the dead man’s cousin

All of it comes back

Every cut
Every mirco-aggression
Every feeling associated with
Every word
Every look
Every act of violence

All of it

The adoptions
The sterilizations
The relocations
The reservations
The suicides
The homicides
The blood quantum
The boarding schools
The 522 years of genocide

All of it hides in that pasty white face on your shirt that is supposed to be me

An Indian
Your sister

washington slurskin (mascot)

National Congress of American Indians

Watch the ‪#‎BigGame commercial the NFL would never air.

Get involved by contacting the Washington Professional Football Team, the NFL and the Washington Post:

DC Team




Roger Goodell & NFL





Washington Post

DC's hometown paper is still using the R-word in its coverage of the team.




Contact the Washington Post:



Thank you to all of the filmmakers who donated their footage.



Donate To Quechan Memorial Skate Park (mascot)

Support the Youth of The Quechan Tribe and the decision to not take reds**n bribe money from OAF


The Quechan Tribe turned down a "blank check" from the foundation run by the owner of the Washington Redskins because it didn't want to be used to prop up the reputation of the controversial team, a tribal member who attended the meetings said Thursday.

Representatives from team owner Daniel Snyder's Original Americans Foundation offered the Quechans money to build a memorial skate park on the Fort Yuma Reservation on the Arizona-California border, according to Kenrick Escalanti, who attended the meetings at the tribal administration building.

Full story at:


Fedex Call In (mascot)



Fed-Ex National Call-in Day

Thursday, July 17

Call 1.800.Go.FedEx, and ask CEO Fred Smith to stop sponsoring racism and harm to children

Native American organizations and communities from across the country are calling on Fed-Ex, the Washington NFL team’s main corporate sponsor, to do what is right for America’s children, and cancel their sponsorship of the Washington football team.

Please join the call to action by using the sample script below to call Fed-Ex and let CEO Fred Smith know that you don’t want Fed-Ex to sponsor harm against Native children.

 Call: 1.800.Go.FedEx (1.800.463.3339)

When you call in:

1) Please be respectful to the customer service representative.

2) Please refrain from yelling or using profanity.

3) Please make sure you stay on the line until you receive a case ID number.


1) When prompted by the automated operator, ask for "Customer Feedback"

2) You will be transferred to a customer service representative. Ask to submit a Complaint to CEO Fred Smith.

3)  They will ask for your contact information. You can choose to share some or none of your information.

Hi, my name is _______.

I am calling as a consumer to let Mr. Smith know that I am very unhappy about Fed-Ex continuing to sponsor the Washington team. The name and mascot harms Native children by contributing to their negative self-image. I urge Fed-Ex to stand on the right side of history. Please withdraw your sponsorship of the Washington Team immediately.

4) You will be given a case ID number. You can call back with this number for a response to your complaint. 

For more information: http://nativevoicenetwork.nationbuilder.com/take_action

Chrissie Castro


Take Action


Walk A Mile In My Redface (information/education/mascot)

Professor’s TEDx Talk about Native American Mascots Selected as Editor’s Pick by TED

Author: TEDxUOregon, Portland State University
Posted: June 12, 2014

This spring, Indigenous Nations Studies program Director and Professor Dr. Cornel Pewewardy spoke in Eugene as part of TEDxUOregon. Professor Pewewardy, who is a nationally recognized expert on Native American mascots in schools and in the media, gave a talk entitled, “Walk a Mile in My Redface: On Ending the Colonial in Schools, Sports Culture, Mass Media and Civic Life.” 

Professor Pewewardy’s talk was recently selected as an “Editor’s Pick” amongst thousands of talks for a feature on the TED website. 

Professor Pewewardy is Comanche-Kiowa and an enrolled member of the Comanche Nation of Oklahoma. He was named “Teacher of the Year” by the National Indian Education Association in 2009 and was awarded the Carl A. Grant Multicultural Research Award by the National Association for Multicultural Education in 2011.

About TEDx
In the spirit of “Ideas Worth Spreading,” TEDx is a program of local, independently organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. A combination of live presenters and TED Talks videos help to spark deep conversation and connections in the community. Over the past five years, there have been more than 10,000 TEDx events in 167 countries.

FedEx Facing Pressure (mascot)


Shipping giant FedEx is facing more pressure to end its business relationship with the Washington NFL team.

FedEx holds naming rights on the stadium in Maryland where the team plays. And its president, Fred Smith, is a member of the team’s ownership group.

The company, however, isn't taking a stand on the team's racist mascot. TheOneida Nation of New York, the National Congress of American Indians, theUnited Church of Christ Central Atlantic Conference and the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ say that needs to change.

"At FedEx field, your company is allowing its iconic brand to be used as a platform to promote the R-word – a racist epithet that was screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands," a letter from the groups to Smith states.

The letter points out that a section of the stadium is named for George Preston Marshall who refused to allow African American players on his team. He relented under pressure from the administration of president John F. Kennedy.

"As you and FedEx officials probably recall, the stadium was officially opened in 1997, meaning the decision to name the George Preston Marshall section after this proud racist happened quite recently," the letter states.

Separately, the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin is leading an effort for FedEx to re-evaluate its relationship with the team. The tribe is an stockholder in the firm.

Get the Story:
Activist group targets FedEx over Washington NFL team name (USA Today 6/25)
Press Release: Oneida Nation, National Congress of American Indians and United Church of Christ React to FedEx Field Section Named for Segregationist George Preston Marshall (Oneida Nation 6/25)

Related Stories:
Oneida Nation asked Bank of America to break with NFL team (6/24) 
Oneida Nation puts pressure on FedEx in campaign over mascot (6/20) 
Church group approves boycott against Washington NFL team (6/16)

White America’s shocking ignorance (mascot)

White America’s shocking ignorance on racist mascots

What the rabid defense of egregious racial stereotypes says about America's social and political culture

Last Wednesday, ESPN 980 Radio sports announcers Chris Cooley (a former tight end for Washington’s pro-football team), Steve Czaban and Al Galdi reacted to the announcementthat the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office had canceled six of that football team’s trademarks:

Czaban: The only good counter argument is to say as soon as the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Indians and the Florida State Seminoles all want to do this then we’d certainly listen to them if they want us to join their movement to change their names….[Otherwise] say we’ll be the Washington Chiefs and paint a more racist picture on the side of the helmets, a buck-toothed Native American that says Chiefs. It won’t say Redskins, but it’ll be a really ugly Native American. It will not be a proud, dignified Native American. It’ll be very cartoonish, like Chief Wahoo, with a big buck-toothed smile.

Cooley: Chiefs and spell it wrong. Put the [e before the i]… No, I think if, God forbid, they were forced to change the name, they should just change it to the Smurfs. Something just out there. And then make the Smurf a little Indian Smurf, a red Smurf.

Yes, more racism is this ESPN crew’s reaction to the successful trademark challenge by Native American plaintiffs against Washington’s team name — an ethnic slur referring to the bloody scalps of Native American men, women and children that the U.S. government once paid bounties for.

This ruling has been a long time coming. The Native American community has been calling upon the team to change its name since the civil rights era, led by  longtime Muscogee Creek activist Suzan Harjo of the Morning Star Institute, who filed the first suit in 1992  – which was overturned on a technicality in 1999 — and organized the second one, decided on Wednesday. Additionally, the National Congress of American Indians, the oldest and largest national organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, has been in long-standing opposition to the use of “Indian” stereotypes such as mascots, logos and symbols. In 1968, the NCAI established an organizational campaign to bring about the end of these harmful and archaic depictions of Native people. In recent years, individual tribes, like the Oneida Indian Nation, have been using their new wealth to press the issue harder. And support has been growing. Last month, the Navajo Nation, the largest tribe in population and land base in the United States (they are not represented by NCAI) joined the movement with a resolution demanding the Washington, D.C., NFL franchise change its name.

Still reeling from the news Wednesday morning, ESPN’s Steve Czaban proceeded to taunt Native people’s reaction to the trademark cancellation:

[They're] going to dance around like in the final scene of Star Wars, like they just defeated the evil empire. Go ahead dance around and do whatever it does that assuages your white liberal guilt but nothing has changed, nothing will change. This is the biggest nothingburger story ever … Maybe we can get therapy for [them], chip in, get to the core of their guilt and understand what is it that’s nagging you.

Well, we didn’t dance around like Ewoks, but myself and other Native people from across the country celebrated together via social media at a Facebook Event page called, appropriately enough, “Redsk*ns Trademark Cancellation Day.” And it didn’t “assuage our white liberal guilt” but it did mark an important step for Native people fighting against defamation and stereotypes and toward obtaining protections under the law that other ethnic groups in the U.S. have enjoyed for decades and that we are only starting to realize now 50 years after the March on Washington.

I had to laugh as Cooley and company wondered aloud why this is an issue, and the only reason they could come up with was that it’s an attack on the team’s improved performance. It’s obvious that, insulated in their conservative world of professional football, they have been completely blindsided by the social media organizing of Native people and our allies in organizations like Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, which I helped found, and which now has more than 900 members from across the United States and Canada representing tribal members from hundreds of tribes and communities both urban and reservation.

For decades we have lagged behind other groups in getting recognition for our concerns, because we are only 1 percent of the population — a staggeringly low figure that is itself a legacy of U.S. policies designed to remove us as a threat to expansion into our lands. I know from arguing with the team’s supporters online that virtually none of them have ever even met a Native American person. Railing against me and other Natives is often the first time they’ve had a conversation with an actual citizen of a remaining Native nation.

What I find the most amazing when talking to supporters of the team name is the complete absence of knowledge about the Native community that they speak from, yet they nonetheless feel emboldened to speak for us, insisting, for example, that we don’t find the name offensive.

This all falls in line with studies showing that the use of Native mascots actually inflates the self-esteem of non-Natives, while having the opposite effect on Native people themselves. In a 2008 research paper, Stephanie Fryberg, a cultural and social psychology scholar and an enrolled member of the Tulalip Tribe, reported that exposure to mascot images like Chief Wahoo decreased Native youth self-esteem even more than that of stereotypically negative images (such as those depicting alcoholism and homelessness). These results even held true for Native people who claimed to find Native mascots positive.

These contrasting responses to Native mascots may serve as a clue as to why they are so difficult for fans to let go of, and why Native people, even when polled, may be unaware of the damage they do to their communities. The results also speak to a normative level of isolation Native people experience from American culture every day, both on and off the reservation. We have become acclimated to this and it comes at a heavy price. Native suicide rates are at 18 percent — twice as high as the nearest ethnic group.

In their ability to inflate non-Native self-esteem while doing great damage to those directly represented by them, Native mascots constitute another taking by the United States from our people. The phenomenon gives life to the term “Redsk*ns” as a present-day form of bounty on another generation of the indigenous population. As a mascot it lives up to its historic meaning as a war trophy.

And yet, Cooley and company claimed during their show that 70-to-90 percent of Native people are proud to call themselves “Redsk*ns.” They appeared not to have heard of the most recent study done by California State University, San Bernadino, that found 67 percent of Native Americans found the Washington team name offensive. (By contrast, only 20 percent disagreed and 12 percent were neutral, while a full 60 percent of white respondents said they did not find the term racist.) The constant reiteration by Cooley and other Washington supporters — that Native Americans don’t care — shows an extreme ignorance about Native people.

My organization, Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry, has its origins on Twitter, where we met after arguing together with Washington fans. About 120 of us began meeting on Facebook during the football season to file FCC obscenity complaints online every time the word was used during Washington games. (I have, in my time, filed many FCC forms reporting the usage of the ethnic slur by the ESPN 980 announcers, in particular. My hope is that with this trademark decision that I will never have to file another one.) About 450 of us trended #NotYourMascot during the Super Bowl, and we will continue our hashtag activism as a way of creating that environment where the use of a slur for an NFL team in the nation’s capital will become more and more unacceptable. We will also apply public pressure on sponsors to distance themselves from a slur that has been denied a federal trademark.

Our group has grown to more than 900 members from across the country, and from nearly every tribe in the United States. We are Native American parents, professors, lawyers, journalists, teachers, small business owners, artists, elders and tribal leaders. Our organization is completely volunteer and yet the depth of the talent in our group means there is never any limitation to what we can do. This is the real Native America that our fellow Americans need to know about. Yes, we are just 1 percent of the population; yes, 30 percent of us live on sometimes remote reservations, and 70 percent are dispersed in urban communities where we exist as minorities among minorities. But we still have the right to basic human decency and respect.

Lack of Power (mascot)

In an extended clip from this weekend’s Moyers & Company, writer Sherman Alexie, who was born on a Native American reservation, talks to Bill about feeling “lost and insignificant inside the larger culture,” and how his culture’s “lack of power” is illustrated in stereotypical sports mascots.

“At least half the country thinks the mascot issue is insignificant. But I think it’s indicative of the ways in which Indians have no cultural power. We’re still placed in the past. So we’re either in the past or we’re only viewed through casinos,” Alexie tells Bill. “I know a lot more about being white than you know about being Indian.”

Honest Engine (mascot)

If the Redskins Name is Racist, What About Honest Engine?


Ryan Burns / Today @ 4:03 p.m. / Business , Media

The Internet is abuzz today with news that the U.S. Patent Office has canceled several trademarks belonging to, as John Oliver calls it, “the-football-team-for-some-reason-not-yet-formerly-known-as the Washington Redskins.” The patent office ruled that the term “redskins” is “disparaging to Native Americans.”

The move comes — coincidentally it would seem — at the crest of a wave of public backlash. Last month 50 U.S. senators wrote a letter urging team owner Daniel Snyder to change the name, and President Obama recently suggested the same thing. (Snyder has vowed repeatedly that he’ll never do so.)

Anyway, all this hubbub got us thinking about a certain auto repair shop near Costco in Eureka.

Honest Engine has been in business since our nation’s bicentennial, and lest you miss the pun, its logo features an “injun” in a feather headdress — an apparent riff on the old Indian Head penny.

Is that racist? In our experience, opinions locally range from totally blasé (“Meh, I never even thought about it.”) to fairly incredulous (“How can they still have that name?!”).

While the phrase “honest injun” is arguably less incendiary than “redskins,” it has nonetheless caused offense in the past. Four years ago, for example, then-Republican National Chairman Michael Steele dropped an “honest injun” during an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, prompting the last living founding member of Chicago’s American Indian Center to ask, “How can you be so stupid?”

According to the Chicago Tribune, “She said that ‘injun’ is one of two words — the other is ‘squaw’ — that should never be used because they are throwbacks to a time when Native Americans were defined almost exclusively by negative stereotypes. (Also, this happened.)

In his 1994 book Watch Your Language! Mother Tongue and Her Wayward Children, the late (and notably white) English professor Robert M. Gorrell says the term is “probably offensive” in origin but has since become “relatively harmless, like honest to gosh or honest to goodness.” His use of “probably” here is a bit curious given his account of the term’s origin: “Honest injun goes back to the eighteenth century,” Gorrell says, “when it began as sarcasm based on the notion that an honest Indian was a rarity.”


We tried and failed today to reach Honest Engine owner Robert Neely. We’ll update if and when we hear from him.

The more lighthearted folks online today are having fun suggesting new names for the Redskins. So how about it, LoCOtariat? Any good auto shop name ideas?

If you want to talk with the Honest Engine Shop about their logo choice their email is: honestengineman@yahoo.com

Please use email as they are a business and we do not want to dominate their phones