Washington Redskins’ Name Offensive To More Native Americans Than Previously Thought, New Study Suggests

Previous studies have suggested that the name was a nonissue among Native Americans.

native americans protest the redskins name
Stacy Revere / Getty Images

Previous studies have suggested that the name was a nonissue among Native Americans.

The percentage of Native Americans who are offended by the name of the National Football League’s (NFL) Washington Redskins is higher than previous studies suggested, according to the results of a new study on the issue. As Yahoo Sports reports, the contradictory results call into question the methodologies of the studies and whether attitudes about the topic are changing.

For years now, the name of the Washington Redskins has been a controversial topic, to say the least. Some in the Native American community say it’s racist and offensive, while the team’s fans and management have insisted that the name is intended as an honor. The NFL, for its part, has so far refused to force the team to change its name.

But just how offended are Native Americans by the team’s name?

Over the decades, studies have suggested that it’s a nonissue in Native American communities. For example, a 2016 Washington Post poll said that as few as one in 10 Native Americans are bothered by the name.

Randy Whitworth, 58, who lives on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana, said that the Native American community, which is reportedly beset by poverty, drugs, and crime, has enough issues on its own to not have to worry about the name of a football team.

“Let’s start taking care of our people and quit worrying about names like Washington Redskins,” he said at the time.

ARLINGTON, TEXAS - DECEMBER 29: Case Keenum #8 of the Washington Redskins drops back to pass in the second quarter against the Dallas Cowboys in the game at AT&T Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
  Tom Pennington / Getty Images

Yet, a new poll from the University of California-Berkeley casts doubt into the results of previous surveys.

The new survey says that about half of poll respondents who identify as Native Americans are offended not only by the Redskins’ name but also by Native American mascots and in-game chants, such as the Tomahawk Chop.

The study’s authors are concerned about what the sharp contrast in their results versus the results of previous studies actually means, if indeed it means anything at all.

The Berkeley study’s co-lead author Arianne Eason suggests that previous studies have been hiding their methodologies and have possibly produced inaccurate results.

“Public opinion polls, with little methodological transparency, say that Native people are not offended. Things just don’t add up,” Eason says.

Meanwhile, changing the name of the team is pretty low on the list of the Redskins’ management’s priorities, posits Yahoo Sports writer Jay Busbee. Noting that the team has been disappointing on the field for the better part of a couple of decades, the team’s focus will be on issues other than their name.