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Inside Story Americas

Washington Redskins: Native Americans see red

Are indigenous racial sensitivities treated differently from other ethnic groups in the US?

Last Modified: 03 May 2013 13:15
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Since 1939, indigenous groups in the United States have protested the name of Washington's National Football League team, the Redskins, saying it is offensive to native groups.

Although there are scores of sports teams across the US using indigenous names and mascots, the term "redskin" - coupled with the team's prominence - is considered particularly offensive to Native Americans.

For years, the team's owners have firmly refused any possibility of a name change, and current Redskins owner Dan Snyder, is no different.

A redskin is actually a scalp ... and the scalps were taken as bounty to count the number of dead .... It just makes you turn ill inside to think your people are referred to in such a derogatory way.

Chad Smith, former Cherokee Nation chief

This sentiment seems to be echoed among sports fans across the US.

A new AP-GFK poll found that almost four out of five people, 79 percent, in the US are against the name change.

At 11 percent, those in favour of the name change in the recent poll represent a four percent increase over a similar survey in 1992, but they are still far outweighed by those who oppose any changes.

Some fans say the name actually honours indigenous traditions.

But campaigners argue that the situation would never be tolerated if another ethnic group was subjected to similar treatment.

A legislation recently proposed by a DC council member has reignited the debate over the team's name.

But Washington is not the only US sports franchise to have come under scrutiny for racist mascots.

In baseball, the Atlanta Braves were represented by a character named Chief Noc-A-Homa until 1986. The character was known to emerge from a teepee and dance whenever the team scored a home run.

Though the character was eventually replaced, Braves fans are still known for the Tomahawk Chop, a hand gesture meant to replace chopping wood with an axe, to cheer the team on.

So, are American Indian racial sensitivities treated differently from other ethnic groups?

Inside Story Americas, with presenter Kimberly Halkett, discusses with guests: Chad Smith, a former Cherokee Nation chief; and Kevin Blackistone, a sports journalist.

USAID expelled from Bolivia

On Wednesday, Evo Morales, the president of Bolivia, announced he is expelling the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), a government agency responsible for aid and development, from his country.    

He has accused USAID of overstepping its stated mission and funding political opposition groups.

The United States Department of State has called the allegations baseless.

Patrick Ventrell, a state department spokesperson said: "The US government does deeply regret the Bolivian government's decision to expel the US Agency for International Development. We deny the baseless allegations made by the Bolivian government .... All USAID programmes have been supportive of the Bolivian government's national development plan and it fully co-ordinated with appropriate government agencies."

So, how true are Morales' claims and what really is the role of USAID in Bolivia?

Inside Story Americas discusses with Kathryn Ledebur, the Andean information network director. 

"I think it's the very structure and system of the way USAID works and USAID policy compared to other foundations or other international co-operations that creates further suspicion or friction and doesn't allow transportation or information .... I'm really surprised Morales hasn't expelled USAID earlier than this."

Kathryn Ledebur, Andean information network director

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Source:
Al Jazeera
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