10 February 2016

Name Changing: Washington Redskins and Kansas City Chiefs

Yesterday's post on how team names change as the team moves from city to city ended with a mention of the football Washington Redskins. That is a name that has been controversial for a long time and particularly in the past few years.

The Washington Redskins name controversy involves the name and logo of the team. Native American individuals, tribes and organizations have been questioning the use of the name and image for decades. Over 115 professional organizations representing civil rights, educational, athletic, and scientific experts have published resolutions or policies that state that the use of Native American names and/or symbols by non-native sports teams is a harmful form of ethnic stereotyping that promote misunderstanding and prejudice which contributes to other problems faced by Native Americans.

The Washington Redskins team is only one example of the larger controversy, but it receives the most public attention due to the name itself being defined as derogatory or insulting in modern dictionaries, and the prominence of the team representing the nation's capital.

Redskins scriptlogo.png
a "less controversial" script logo used by the Redskins (1972–present) Sportslogos.net, Public Domain,

When an NFL franchise was bought for Boston in 1933, the team was set to play at the home of the baseball Boston Braves so it adopted the same name. The following year, the Braves moved to Fenway Park and changed their name to the Redskins. The Redskins name traveled with the team to become the Washington Redskins. Of course, the baseball Atlanta Braves, also use American Indian imagery - and a pretty tasteless "chop" motion in the stands by fans.

The Kansas City Chiefs (NFL) also use Native American imagery in its logo of an Indian arrowhead.. The team was supposedly named in honor of Kansas City mayor Harold Roe Bartle who was instrumental in bringing the AFL Dallas Texans to Kansas City, MO in 1963. Bartel earned his nickname as founder of a Boy Scouts honor camping society Tribe of Mic-O-Say in which he was "Chief" Lone Bear.

In 1989 the Chiefs switched from Warpaint, a Pinto horse ridden by a man in a feathered headdress, to their current mascot K. C. Wolf. A horse named Warpaint returned in 2009, but is ridden by a cheerleader.

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