A day after losing their trademark registration by the federal government, the Washington Redskin’s mascot controversy is hitting close to home.
Richard Whitman, a member of the Yuchi tribe, remembers being teased as a child – repeatedly being called a “redskin.”
“You live with it, you know?” Whitman said of the teasing. “It was part of our little survival technique, if you will.”
So he is glad to see pressure put on the Washington Redskins to change their name.
He says it represents the scalps that were collected by bounty hunters who made a living killing Native Americans.
“Medical health shows the impact of this kind of imaging for young native people,” Whitman said.
But if the Redskins name is changed, should Oklahoma change its name too?
The state’s name is from the Choctaw words “okla” and “humma,” meaning “red people.”
The Choctaw Nation website says following the trail of tears, it was a Choctaw Chief who suggested the Oklahoma name during treaty negotiations – and he was referring to the people’s skin color.
Whitman says the color carries a different meaning.
“It’s a symbolic color of life, the color red, in my tribe.”
But for several Oklahoma high schools, Capitol Hill, Tulsa Union, Rush Springs, Kingston and McLoud, their Redskins mascot name is a source of pride.
“I’m very proud to be a Redskin,” Joseph Wood, a member of the Kickapoo tribe, said Thursday.
Wood recently graduated from McLoud High School, proudly played quarterback for the McLoud Redskins, and says he wouldn’t want the state’s name changed either.
“It’s very ridiculous because then you’d have to change other states,” he said. “Indiana, land of the Indians.”
He says his tribal leaders, and many others, very much appreciate being represented by the NFL.
“If you ask them, it is an honor to have a mascot portraying them,” he said, “to represent them.”
Some research documents Native American chiefs using the terms “red skins” and “white skins” in the 1700’s.
The Washington Redskins remain adamant about keeping the name.