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Harjo: Ruling expected any day on use of R-word

"Only a few wounding words carry pain so severe that they are not dulled by time. ''Redskins'' is such a word for most Native people. Once you've been stung by that word, you never, ever forget it or the venom of each modifier, most commonly ''dirty,'' ''lazy'' and ''stupid.''

Manley A. Begay Jr. was ''about seven or eight years'' when he was hit with the R-word by a non-Indian in his own Navajo land in Arizona: '''You dirty redskin, you stinky redskin, you dirty Indian, go back to your hogan.'

''And he kept on repeating that, you know, and yelling and screaming at me and making these racist and insulting and degrading remarks: you stinky redskin ... you stupid redskin.''

Norbert S. Hill Jr., who is Oneida from Wisconsin, was called the R-word during a high school football game. ''I remember tackling ... a conference top player for a two-yard loss, and he called me a 'dirty f***ing redskin.''

William A. Means Jr. was ''applying for a job to make hay'' when a ''white rancher'' referred to him ''as a redskin.'' Means, who is Oglala Lakota from South Dakota, then ''felt prejudice, intimidation, so I left.''

Begay, Hill and Means went on to run Indian education programs and schools, and to sue the Washington professional football team regarding its dreadful name.

Their statements are evidence in the lawsuit, Harjo et al v. Pro Football, Inc., now in its 13th year of litigation."

Get the Story:
Suzan Shown Harjo: Dirty word games (Indian Country Today 6/17)

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