Welcome to the Ginned Up Issue   Leave a comment

A new Washington Post poll found that 90 percent of Native Americans aren’t offended by the Washington Redskins‘ nickname and an overwhelming majority consider it an unimportant issue.

The Post polled 504 people who identify primarily as Native American from across the country, including those who lived on reservations and those who were not part of a tribe.

The general population appears to care more about the name than Native Americans. A 2014 ESPN poll found that 23 percent of the population favored a name change.

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/15608840/native-americans-say-unbothered-redskins-team-name-washington-post-poll

So, here I am, a tribal member who does not live on the reservation. The three Lower 48 Indians that I’ve met who care about the name of a football team they don’t follow also want all whites removed from the Western hemisphere. I know some Alaska Natives who say they’re offended on behalf of their Lower 48 “brothers”, but really, this is a “white” and liberal issue.

The poll found that of Native Americans who identified as liberal, 80 percent considered the name inoffensive. Moderates were at 92 percent and conservatives at 96. Of college graduates, 85 percent were not offended, compared to 91 percent of those who attended some or no college.

This is yet another ginned-up issue over political correctness that is designed to divide us and keep us from talking to one another. Those who want the name removed generally also want “white” society to transfer the proceeds of their hard work to the indolent Indians on the reservations. Everything a white man or woman does is offensive to these cousins. You could twist yourself into knots trying to please them, but nothing you do will ever accomplish that.

New Redskins logo? I kinda dig it.: Here in Alaska a jury just convicted Nathan Kangas of 1st degree murder for the ambush shooting of two police officers who were arresting his father for threatening someone with a gun. The Kangases were members of the Athabaskan Nation — an Indian supremacist group. Yes, I called it what it is. I didn’t PC-ot. It’s the KKK for Athabaskans — a widepread Indian people in Alaska that also shares linguistic roots with Navajos and some others. Not many Athabaskans actually subscribe to the idea that all whites should be deported to Europe (or outright killed) and they were quick to condemn the Kangases when the news broke. The movement has existed for decades. I first encountered it as a separate group in the 1980s in college. Similar movements exist in other tribes, largely as an outgrowth of Wounded Knee. While the vast majority of Athabaskans felt only relief that Nathan Kangas will likely be in jail for the rest of his life, there are a few who are quietly burning with anger and turning the Kangases into martyrs for their cause.

Personally, I couldn’t care less what a football team is called. I’m comfortable in my skin in white society. In fact, it is usually my reservation cousins who make me feel “less than” because I stubbornly refuse to be a Native-American (hyphen deliberate). They talk about whites as if you-all are just sitting around thinking of ways to wipe Indians off the map. They talk in front of me, forgetting that I’m comfortable with my European DNA.

I am comfortable with being human. I live in a city surrounded by white people. I don’t experience racism … or, if I do, I don’t recognize it as such. People are rude. Sometimes it’s like you’re invisible to the waitress when your coffee cup is empty or to the store clerk with 20 customers all demanding attention. Do they pass me over because I’m Indian? I doubt it. I’ve experienced racism on the reservation. I’ve experienced racism from an old black man because he thought I was white. Friends thought I was experiencing racism in a tourist shop in New Mexico once, but I thought the woman was just upset because I was looking and not buying. Yes, we were just outside the Navajo Reservation and maybe my tan and dark braids seemed suspect to her in 1980, but I wasn’t looking for racism, so I saw a rude store owner, not a bigot.

If we could stop ginning up issues like the names of football teams, maybe we would have time and energy enough to address the real problems of Native Americans living on the reservation … namely, the lack of an economy to support real jobs and the lack of private property that would make it worthwhile for Indians to invest in their own economy, the drugs and alcoholism that is rampant on reservations, the domestic violence that exists in far too many homes, the isolation from mainstream life that encourages the racism I see there every time I visit, but above all the dependence on government handouts that takes away any incentive to build something better and gives the individual an excuse for blaming white society for their deprivation, boredom and anger.

Ultimately, what is wrong with Indian society is not the fault of white society and it will not be fixed by whites. It must come from Indians because it is Indians who choose to be angry and resent the opportunities that lay beyond the boundaries of the reservation rather than taking advantage of them by accepting that whites long ago moved away from overt racism and that once they get to know you, they really don’t care that you’re an Indian. In fact, most of the time, unless you bring it up, they don’t even notice.

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