Washington Post conducts poll on Native views of racist mascot

Activist Winona LaDuke speaks at a rally against racist mascots in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on November 2, 2014. Photo from Simon Moya-Smith / Twitter

The overwhelming majority of "ordinary" Native Americans aren't bothered by the NFL team's racist mascot, according to the results of a poll conducted by The Washington Post.

The poll reached 504 self-identified Native Americans in every state, according to the paper. Of those, 44 percent said they were enrolled in a tribe and 56 percent said they weren't.

Among those 504 respondents, only 9 percent found the team's name to be "Offensive," according to the results. The remaining 90 percent said the mascot "Does not bother" them.

The results mirror a 2004 Annenberg Poll that the Washington team has repeatedly cited when asked why it won't change the name. But it does not reflect the views of nearly every inter-tribal and Indian organization that has taken a stand against the mascot or the positions of dozens of tribes that have done the same.

“I just reject the results,” activist and Presidential Medal of Freedom winner Suzan Shown Harjo, who has been fighting racist imagery in sports for decades, told the Post. "I don’t agree with them, and I don’t agree that this is a valid way of surveying public opinion in Indian Country.”

The poll itself was part of a larger survey that asked people for their views on "a range of topics," the paper said. Only when a respondent self-identified as Native American were they asked more specific questions.

Of those 9 specific questions, six were designed to elicit views about the mascot and the use of Indian imagery in sports. None directly asked whether the respondent wanted the team to change its name or whether the person supported or was indifferent to such efforts.

“The results of this poll confirm a reality that is encouraging but hardly surprising: Native Americans are resilient and have not allowed the NFL’s decades-long denigration of us to define our own self-image,” the leaders of the Change the Mascot campaign said in a press release. “However, that proud resilience does not give the NFL a license to continue marketing, promoting, and profiting off of a dictionary-defined racial slur -- one that tells people outside of our community to view us as mascots.”

The leaders of the campaign are Jackie Pata, the executive director of the National Congress of American Indians, and Ray Halbritter, the official representative of the Oneida Nation in New York.

Get the Story:
New poll finds 9 in 10 Native Americans aren’t offended by Redskins name (The Washington Post 5/19)
How The Washington Post conducted the survey on the Redskins’ name (The Washington Post 5/19)
Change the Mascot on Redskins name: Profiting off ‘dictionary-defined racial slur’ (The Washington Post 5/19)
Native Americans’ indifference on ‘Redskins’ could reset D.C. stadium talks (The Washington Post 5/19)
Some in the news media are still offended by Redskins name, even if Indians aren’t (The Washington Post 5/19)
In complex Redskins name debate, poll should give both sides pause (The Washington Post 5/19)

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