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Native American Journalists Association criticizes Washington Post poll

Washington-Post-Getty Getty Images

At a time when Washington owner Daniel Snyder and supporters of his team’s name cling to an opinion expressed by 450 self-identifying Native American adults as the last word in the debate regarding whether the name should change, other Native American voices are chiming in with the opposing view.

The Change the Mascot movement has not relented in its opposition to the name, and the National Congress of American Indians calls the poll from the Washington Post “irrelevant.” Separately, the Native American Journalists Association has suggested that the poll is irresponsible.

“Not only does the reporting fail to pass the test of accurate and ethical reporting, it also attempts to legitimize a defined racial slur and is an egregious example of creating the news rather than simply reporting it,” the NAJA declares in a statement released Friday.

The NAJA takes issue with the poll’s reliance on “self-identifying” Native Americans, pointing out that this “is not a reliable indicator of indigenous tribal ancestry.”

“There are numerous available examples of statistical data sets, including the U.S. Census, that are skewed by non-Native individuals claiming to be Native American based on personal belief rather than verifiable citizenship with a tribal nation, or verifiable lineage from a tribal citizen,” the NAJA explains, adding that because only 44 percent of the persons polled claimed to be tribal citizens, the other 56 percent “were likely not Native American.”

The NAJA also points to a potential conflict of interest arising from the relationship between the Post and the team, given that the team “is a key part of its coverage and business model.” While this dynamic hasn’t kept the Post from criticizing the team in the past, it’s obvious based on the statement from Snyder that he’s currently feeling pretty good about the local paper for facilitating the “overwhelming support from the Native American community” for the team’s name.

The bigger problem, from NAJA’s perspective, is that the poll legitimizes a “dictionary-defined racial slur” by suggesting that the propriety of the term is the subject of a “nuanced debate.”

“It is our contention that the continued use of a racial epithet is an act of overt racism that is harmful to an entire segment of American society, in particular its young people,” the NAJA says.

“By framing this story as simply a matter of public opinion, the Post has willfully ignored the harm . . . that will inevitably result from its coverage,” the NAJA argues. “The reporters and editors behind this story must have known that it would be used as justification for the continued use of these harmful, racist mascots. They were either willfully malicious or dangerously naïve in the process and reporting used in this story, and neither is acceptable from any journalistic institution. . . . It is NAJA’s position that journalism should only be practiced when it is in the interest of public enlightenment and democracy, and should never be used as a tool of racial oppression or corporate cheerleading.”

Those who support the name tend to complain that opposition to it comes only from white, liberal journalists who are obsessed with political correctness. This persistent framing of the issue requires not simply high-level mental gymnastics but willful ignorance of the views being expressed by groups that speak on behalf of Native Americans. Native American groups like Change the Mascot, the National Congress of American Indians, and the Native American Journalists Association are strongly opposed to the name. That should count for something; it definitely should count for more than the random views of less than 500 Native Americans who may not even be Native Americans.

Although much of modern American discourse consists of developing a position, becoming stubborn about it, embracing any facts or arguments that support it, ignoring any facts or arguments that undermine it, and shouting down anyone who dares to disagree, the NAJA’s view is that the use of the Washington team name isn’t a proper subject for debate, and that the mere act of making it into yet another a red state/blue state/you’re-wrong-and-I’m-right talking point in and of itself is inappropriate.

In other words, the NAJA believes that this shouldn’t be a topic for debate or polling, and that the name should be recognized as the dictionary-defined slur that it is and no longer used. As conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer explained it three years ago, certain words that possibly were once acceptable become unacceptable over the course of time. At best, that’s what has happened in this case, and the best proof continues to be that no expansion franchise in any professional sport could get away would even try to adopt that name in 2016.

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61 Responses to “Native American Journalists Association criticizes Washington Post poll”
  1. sfitz0076 says: May 21, 2016 6:03 PM

    This poll came from the Washington Post. They are a historically liberal newspaper that hates Dan Snyder and the Redskins name. I don’t think they would do a half-assed job on a poll that goes against the beliefs of their writers and editors.

  2. raiderinva says: May 21, 2016 6:05 PM

    That’s the funny thing about the internet….

    If you search long enough you will eventually find a way to give your unrelenting point of view justification. Doesn’t mean you are correct, just means that you eventually found someone that would agree with you.

  3. dtriebel says: May 21, 2016 6:07 PM

    Insist it’s a racial slur all you want the rest of the world long since moved past it. Only native Americans opinion matter in this debate and at less than 5% native blood my opinion doesn’t matter but that trace percentage I carry feels more honored than insulted by the name. I am insulted by those who would tell others how they should feel about it.

  4. oscarxray says: May 21, 2016 6:24 PM

    Perhaps the National Congress of American Indians wouldn’t object to the name ‘Indians’.That sounds like a good compromise.

  5. f1restarter says: May 21, 2016 6:38 PM

    People need to get used to being offended.

    There wouldn’t be so many hypersensitive emo wussies scrambling for their “safe space” whenever someone says a word they don’t like.

    Keep fighting the good fight, Mr. Snyder.

  6. nofaceangler718 says: May 21, 2016 6:40 PM

    Thank you Florio. Finally a thoughtful response after several days of sports people shrugging their sholders and saying, “Well, if they don’t care I guess we shouldn’t either.” It’s a racial slur. It doesn’t matter how many people were polled!

  7. harrietknutczak says: May 21, 2016 6:41 PM

    SJWs are professionally offended. Persons from India should protest their racial identity being co-opted by North American aboriginals.

  8. tacomatiger says: May 21, 2016 7:03 PM

    Dan Snyder is an arrogant bigot

  9. whatjusthapped says: May 21, 2016 7:04 PM

    The NAJA takes issue with the poll’s reliance on “self-identifying” Native Americans, pointing out that this “is not a reliable indicator of indigenous tribal ancestry.”
    ======================================
    But it worked so well with Elizabeth Warren! That’s the way it is with Liberals, the facts don’t matter as much as advancing the narrative for their agenda.

  10. thevauntedchris says: May 21, 2016 7:12 PM

    As a very, very, VERY infrequent visitor to this site, I’m somewhat amazed at the amount of posts slanting negatively towards the Redskins. Between these posts about the name, the Shanahan/RG3/Snyder stuff…you would almost think someone has an obvious bias against a team/person. It’s strange to me. The Redskins certainly haven’t needed much help in being dysfunctional over the last 20 years. But to read all these articles, you’d forget they are coming off a division winning year with a QB who just broke all the franchise records. Maybe I just don’t visit the site enough to see that every other team gets the same treatment.

  11. mikeyhigs says: May 21, 2016 7:21 PM

    I find it curious that the opposition to the name has to keep saying “dictionary defined racial slur.” I think its because in 2016, the word redskin is not used as a racial slur at all. And Redskins was definitely not chosen as the team name because it was a “slur.”

  12. skinsprinting says: May 21, 2016 7:22 PM

    So lets see …Indians, Braves, Chiefs, Blackhawks, Seminoles, are all Okay ?
    The tomahawk chop is okay… not to mention the chant!!
    But Redskins is not okay?

    There are 62 high schools in 22 states with the name Redskins including Red Mesa High School.

    Red Mesa High School is located in Red Mesa, Arizona, which is about 25 miles southwest of the Four Corners. The school is located on the Navajo Reservation and is a public school. They have nearly 100% ( 99.3 % ) Navajo students.

    Mission Statement:
    “To provide quality education for successful interaction in the changing technological world while enhancing Navajo culture”

    Someone better tell Red Mesa High that they are offending them selves !

  13. mrfrostyj says: May 21, 2016 7:22 PM

    So in other words the poll is not fair because those polled might not know it’s a racial slur.

    If the people it’s meant to offend have to be told they’re supposed to be offended then it’s not offensive to those people no matter how this group tries to spin it. The terms “midget” and “retarded” are in medical journals yet the PC police have also labeled those to be offensive words as well.

    Best part about this is they use the dictionary as their backup as the dictionary mentions it’s offensive. If you google the definition and read the origin of how and why it’s “offensive” it pretty much spells out that it shouldn’t be since Native Americans came up with the term but it is because the only ones who stereotypically still use it are racist people. In other words even the dictionary states the term itself isn’t actually offensive and in reality it’s out dated which is a huge difference. So it isn’t like using the “N” word (which everyone knows is offensive) it’s the equivalent to calling a black person “colored”. The term itself is not offensive but if you hear a person use it there’s a 90% chance they are a racist person. Basically it’s offensive by association.

  14. asparatame says: May 21, 2016 7:23 PM

    “…it also attempts to legitimize a defined racial slur…”

    There isn’t a recognized authority on racial slurs. SJWs could call spaghetti a racial slur and that doesn’t make it one.

    To paraphrase Jon Luc Picard– The line must be drawn here. This far, no farther.

    Is it sad that Native American SJWs lose as rank and file Native Americans have lost so many times in the past? Probably. It is for the greater good that free speech has an unqualified victory and not the social fascists.

  15. nouhoh64 says: May 21, 2016 7:33 PM

    Why do we only hear about this during the off season? Can it be any more transparent?

  16. captainwhodat says: May 21, 2016 7:38 PM

    how do we kill this vampire?

  17. wreckintexin says: May 21, 2016 7:42 PM

    If my ethnicity had been all but eradicated from the face of the earth by another and then after we were cast off to be forgotten you start using images of my fallen ancestors as a symbol of great warriors I would find it insulting. Same reason hunters mount bears and other dangerous animals on their walls they have killed, to show that you conquered it. The bear does not want to be on the wall.

  18. bencoates57 says: May 21, 2016 7:45 PM

    Why not just do what Cleveland Indians did? Put a boxy letter R on your helmet.

  19. jimnaizeeum says: May 21, 2016 7:55 PM

    Remember when the restaurant chain “Sambos” was in business…they changed their name, it was the right thing to do.

  20. shlort says: May 21, 2016 7:58 PM

    Liberals will never accept anything that goes against their ideology. Now everyone knows what “Fundamental Change” represents.

  21. juanweiner says: May 21, 2016 8:00 PM

    The Redskins name can be removed from the NFL when the N word is eliminated from rap music.

  22. mackcarrington says: May 21, 2016 8:01 PM

    Just ask anyone if they think they should tell 6 year old children that it’s OK to call Native Americans “Redskins”.

  23. lingsun54 says: May 21, 2016 8:01 PM

    I don’t care who doesn’t like the term “Redskins”. It doesn’t even matter if Native Americans choose to not like it. It’s a sign of respect. It’s not derogatory. Most Native Americans agree. Except the fake 1/32 Indians like Elizabeth Warren.

  24. purpleguy says: May 21, 2016 8:07 PM

    Absolutely no dog in this fight, but how can any rational adult, liberal or conservative, not recognize the name “redskin” as a derogatory reference to an oppressed minority? And I don’t even really care if they keep the name or not and I am pretty damn far from a “liberal”.

  25. greymares says: May 21, 2016 8:10 PM

    I’m guessing the American Indian would be more concerned about being affiliated with a bigot owner and a loser franchise,than they are with a nickname.

  26. oldlthrneck says: May 21, 2016 8:15 PM

    “This persistent framing of the issue requires not simply high-level mental gymnastics but willful ignorance of the views being expressed by groups that speak on behalf of Native Americans.”

    Just because they are “self appointed” spokesmen, on behalf of Native Americans, does not make their opinions valid. There is no evidence, whatsoever, that they or their advocacy is supported by a majority of the Native Americans, in this country.

  27. romosmicrodongs says: May 21, 2016 8:23 PM

    Trump loves the political correctness, keep it coming!! More voters for the don when they get tired of this garbage

  28. sonhoodoo says: May 21, 2016 8:42 PM

    So, NAJA is saying that, as an organization that chooses to represent Indians, that it’s opinion is greater than the people they say they are choosing to speak for. No thanks to that line of thought.

    Yes, I used the term Indians. Does it matter? Probably to some. The point is the term “Native Americans” is just as incorrect as any other term used used to define people descended from people who lived here before it became America. Why are we seeking to define them with a nomenclature based on the civilization that overthrew them?

  29. charger383 says: May 21, 2016 8:51 PM

    I don’t think they would like Yankees as name for a new team

  30. davewr58 says: May 21, 2016 8:53 PM

    It’s not a racial slur. This stupidity was initiated by white liberals not Native Americans. The team has had the name for over 80 years and no one complained until recently. It’s the liberal PC police who are the enemy, not an imagined racial slur.

  31. revelation123 says: May 21, 2016 8:58 PM

    In other words: It’s “irrelevant” what 90% of Native Americans think because I’m still offended.

    Maybe instead of choosing to get offended by a name that’s meant to generate pride and respect, you could feel the same pride and respect that the Washington Redskins name was created with.

  32. ratsfoiledagain says: May 21, 2016 9:02 PM

    harrietknutczak says:
    May 21, 2016 6:41 PM
    SJWs are professionally offended. Persons from India should protest their racial identity being co-opted by North American aboriginals.
    *******
    Natives of this land never came up with the word ‘Indian’. Nor do they truly use it to describe individuals, a clan or tribe. I know a few people of Sioux, Cree and Eastern Shoshone decent. Not one of them has ever called themselves Indian. They call themselves by name of the people they belong to.

    My two cents in this discussion is like a drop of rain in the ocean. It won’t make a difference but, my casual observation over the years has shown that the least discriminated people tend to exude the most discrimination.

  33. bearflagfan says: May 21, 2016 9:03 PM

    Next up, the Colts play in Native Americanapolis, Native Americana.

  34. massappeal12345 says: May 21, 2016 9:08 PM

    Why isn’t Elizabeth Warren, the highest elected Indian in the country, if the Redskins
    name is so derogatory, leading the cry against the name.

  35. mediasloppy says: May 21, 2016 9:28 PM

    Man, nobody is changing their tune. This argument has no rational outcome. People are stuck in their ways. All I hear is that we are so PC these days and to a point we are. But lets not forget speaking PC actually has a purpose. It just seems funny or kind of sad that people actually think being PC is somehow apposed of values or some sort of wussification of America . Anyway, the Redskins name isn’t going anywhere soon even though you’d never walk up to a Native American and say the word. These are the times we live in…

  36. amaf21 says: May 21, 2016 9:29 PM

    The Post is about as liberal and anti-redskins (name and team itself) as it gets. Sorry, you lose.

    Hail to the Redskins!

  37. David Johnson says: May 21, 2016 9:30 PM

    As a West Virginian why are you against transsexuals using bathrooms they identify with? “Delegate Joshua Nelson, who represents Boone County, started a petition May 13 to “asking Governor Tomblin to stand up To President Obama and stop opposite gender children from using the same restroom/locker room facilities,” according to Nelson’s website.”

    Clearly as an elected official it would be willfully ignorant of me not to believe he speaks on behalf of the state of West Virginia.

  38. laserw says: May 21, 2016 9:34 PM

    With all due DISRESPECT, anyone who says that the Washington Redskins’ name is insulting to first squaters is a racist.

    You see – despite two polls conducted by non-friendly-to-the-cause entities, there are still people who insist that the name is racist – not because it is – but because they are leftist organizations hellbent on inflicting THEIR standards on everyone else.

    I loathe the concept of “native Americans” – there are no such things – these are people who have ancestors who invaded a prestine area and were the “first squatters” on this land. They did nothing special. They just assumed that this land they found was theirs and they took it.

    That is exactly what the first squatters are saying happened to their ancestors when the nasty white people arrived.

    Isn’t that just precious?

    The first land grabbers are whining that someone grabbed that land away from them as if being here first makes them so utterly precious from any logical perspective.

    It is time for these leftist, progressive, neo-communist entities to shove their indignation and their false cries of racism and to cease and desist their own racist perspective. Supporting first squatter claims on purity of their theft of land from mother nature does not make you virtuious – it makes you a racist and a hypocrite. You violate your own standards by advancing your position!

  39. raiderinva says: May 21, 2016 9:51 PM

    The movement behind trying to force The Washington Redskins to change their name has an awful lot of similarities to the movement behind letting a grown male use the same bathroom as my underage daughter. The same reasoning and tactics are being used, and the voice of the majority is being ignored.

  40. stevent92 says: May 21, 2016 10:06 PM

    Political Groups: “This is offensive.”

    People: “No it isn’t.”

    Political Groups: “Yes it is, and you WILL be offended because WE SAY you will be.”

  41. peytonwantsaflag says: May 21, 2016 10:34 PM

    Sooo, the argument from naja and Pft is they shouldn’t have to get in I’m right your wrong argument about the name because the opposition is so obviously wrong?

    My god.

  42. lambeaudungbarn says: May 21, 2016 10:51 PM

    I wonder why some people have such a desire to
    instigate trouble between others that is either not there before or very minimal.
    I’m not an American Indian so it is hard to understand
    the other side. It certainly is troubling because I had Never heard a single complaint until the Activists butted in a few years ago.
    I wonder when European Americans will get activists
    on our side because of us being unable to show our Traditions in public school or government Offices?

  43. keywordy says: May 21, 2016 10:59 PM

    “…discourse consists of developing a position, becoming stubborn about it, embracing any facts or arguments that support it, ignoring any facts or arguments that undermine it”
    That’s exactly what’s going on here. Journalists are ignoring or undermining the poll results because the facts aren’t convenient to them.
    If the poll had showed a majority of Native Americans find the name offensive, the same people would be running the results up the flagpole and declaring the results to be authoritative.

  44. dukeearl says: May 22, 2016 1:25 AM

    This is just an example of the owner of a football team having an over-sized ego and not wanting to do the right thing.

  45. briang123 says: May 22, 2016 1:39 AM

    Translation: That goes against the narrative we need to push to be relevant, so they are meanies!

  46. txmidnite says: May 22, 2016 2:33 AM

    R.I.P USA
    Cause Of Death:
    Offended To Death

  47. hlmatty1 says: May 22, 2016 3:27 AM

    Don’t like the name? Don’t go to games or don’t buy their stuff. otherwise, leave everyone else alone.

  48. richc111 says: May 22, 2016 6:04 AM

    I have said it before and I will say it again, I bowled in a league that had 2 teams of Indians. Guess what there favorite team was? You got it the Redskins. All 10 of them would be wearing hats jackets shirts , on Monday nights especially when the Redskins played. Tell me Mike F Maybe they should be called the Washington Apples. Should I ask you why that term is offensive to Indians because I know why it is. Why because I have hung out with Indians, just as I am sure you have. So you would know what the term Apple means to an Indian.. for those of you that are less wise the MF it means that you are Red on the outside ( you know redskined!!! but white on the inside. It is a derogatory term the Indians use to describe other Indians. Again note RED on the outside, and note this is a term Indians use.

  49. jsm08 says: May 22, 2016 6:24 AM

    I identify as a native american this weekend so I’m going to agree with their stance for now.

  50. thechickenexpress says: May 22, 2016 8:22 AM

    How many fans of Pearl Jam realize that they’re talking about semen every time they say the band’s name? Even people who know what it means aren’t thinking about semen when they say that Pearl Jam’s their favorite band, but that doesn’t erase the name’s first meaning. The long usage of Redskins has had a similar obscuring effect on the semantics of the word. To the folks who think it doesn’t matter, Redskins is just another noun–and a proper noun, at that, with specific historical associations that have nothing to do with Native Americans.

    Language is subtler than most of us who use it ever realize. And it’s powerful. And we need to be careful.

    For the sake of argument, let’s ignore the questions about methodology and take the Post’s poll at face value. 9% of the respondents consider the Redskins team name offensive. There are close to 5.5 million Native Americans in the US. So the poll suggests that about 500,000 Native Americans find the Redskins team name offensive. To me, that’s more than enough to justify changing the name. So why not just do it? We’re talking about a sports team.

    A sports team.

    Dan Snyder’s reasons for keeping the name are transparent. For him, it’s all about brand and marketing. If you think he cares about anything but the dollars, you’re nuts. If 75% of the team’s fans came out tomorrow in favor of calling Washington’s football team the Dung Beetles, he’d change the name to Dung Beetles.

    But all you folks who are so up in arms about keeping the name: you sound awfully sensitive and entitled and personally invested in this … just like the PC college kids you think are destroying America. What are your reasons for keeping the name, apart from “I like it” and “I don’t like liberals”? Because those aren’t good reasons, as at least half a million Native Americans, and probably many more than that, will tell you.

  51. grogan537 says: May 22, 2016 8:53 AM

    Does anyone find the “Fighting Irish” offensive?

  52. illogicalvoicesinmyhead says: May 22, 2016 11:09 AM

    It’s over, the name isn’t changing, get used to it.

    Hail

  53. jeff d. says: May 22, 2016 11:14 AM

    But all you folks who are so up in arms about keeping the name: you sound awfully sensitive and entitled and personally invested in this … just like the PC college kids you think are destroying America. What are your reasons for keeping the name, apart from “I like it” and “I don’t like liberals”?
    ====================

    PC college kids are destroying America.

    Maybe we should have separate bathrooms for PC college kids next to the transgender ones and opposite the “safe” zones.

  54. keys2heat says: May 22, 2016 11:45 AM

    Libs are squirming! Hail to the Redskins!

  55. lance19 says: May 22, 2016 11:56 AM

    Folks will continue to try to make it a “liberal vs. conservative” issue, but it’s not:

    “Redskin” is an ugly, outdated, racist term. I oppose it because I oppose racism. Period.

    It’s the 21st Century for god’s sake, stop defending racism, football fans. Move on, already.

  56. grumpyredskin23 says: May 22, 2016 12:18 PM

    Thanks chickenexpress for proving the point even though you didn’t mean to. You talk about pearl jam’s name, according to your logic if 500k people found their name offensive, which you imply that it could be, then they should be forced to change their name by the government. But most people don’t think that when you think of their name, same situation here. It’s their name, their team, their business, not yours, not mine, especially not the governments!
    As you say words have lots of meanings and meanings that morph over time; The Washington Redskins means nothing more than an AMERICAN National Football League team name. American highlighted to underscore freedoms under the constitution of the United States, on of which is speech!

  57. NinersRule says: May 22, 2016 12:22 PM

    LOL– The Native American Journalists Association probably has about 15 members.

    Like it or not, that 90% poll scalped any chance of changing the name.

    Face it everybody– IT IS OVER.

  58. illogicalvoicesinmyhead says: May 22, 2016 1:20 PM

    Words aren’t racist, people are. This is what opponents of the name don’t grasp. If I call a spade a spade, am I being racist? Do we water down our language and culture to prevent any possibility of offense? I’ve seen enough so-called progressives act in discriminating ways once they’ve left the safety of their ivory towers to recognize this for the hypocrisy that it is. If they were successful in getting the name changed, they would simply pat themselves on the back and then wonder why nothing actually changed, only to find another scapegoat to blame for the depravity of man.

    So, stand tall Redskins fans. Our team is named for a symbol of strength, courage and pride. It is not a slur, but a beacon on a hill. And, as we have found out, most Native Americans recognize it as such.

    Hail

  59. defscottyb says: May 23, 2016 2:57 AM

    Who cares… the name is not changing.

  60. cjas9298 says: May 23, 2016 11:37 AM

    “By framing this story as simply a matter of public opinion, the Post has willfully ignored the harm.” Or, just because the majority of women would likely not take offense at sideline cheerleaders doesn’t mean their presence doesn’t in fact do harm to women.

  61. grumpyoleman says: May 23, 2016 12:45 PM

    Sounds like it is time to update the dictionary to reflect reality.

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