Sunday, February 9, 2014

"Proud To Be" Video Promoting Indian Self-Esteem & Promoting Changing The Name Of The Washington R*dskins

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the National Congress of American Indians' 2014 video "Proud To Be". Also included in this post is information about the National Congress of American Indians and twenty-five comments from that video's viewer comment thread.

This post is presented in solidarity with the goal of the National Congress Of American Indians to promote self-esteem among people of American Indian descent, and the goal of removing the offensive term "Re*skins" from the name of the professional American football team and from the name of other athletic teams.

These comments are compiled in part because of the presence of profanity and racist comments in the video's full viewer comment thread. Hopefully, doing so will enable this historic video & those selected comments to be used as a supplemental resource in public schools and other institutions and groups which don't consider content that includes objectionable language.

Thanks to the producers and publishers of this video.

All copyrights remain with their owners.


National Congress of American Indians, Published on Jan 27, 2014

Watch the #BigGame commercial the NFL would never air. Get involved by contacting the Washington Professional Football Team, the NFL and the Washington Post: [email addresses are given in this summary]
Click for information about the National Congress of American Indians. Here's one statement from that website:
"The National Congress of American Indians, founded in 1944, is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities."

Here are twenty-five selected comments from the NCAI's
Proud To Be" video's viewer comment thread

WARNING: As is the case with many other YouTube video viewer comment threads, many comments in that viewer comment thread contain profanity and racist language. The comments below are free of that objectionable content.

These comments are given in no order of preference. They are numbered for reference purposes only.

1. Christopher Booth
"I think that among the Native American celebrities shown should have been the great ballerina Maria Tallchief of the Osage nation. She and Rosella Hightower were among the top dancers of her day with outstanding international reputations. Maria Tallchief was the wife of George Ballanchine, one of the co-founders of the New York City Ballet, and was the first-ever U.S. ballerina to dance at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. There are many beautiful and striking photos of her.

N. Scott Momaday would also be a good person to have selected, one of the outstanding writers in the U.S. He is Kiowa. He won the Pulitzer Prize, and teaches at the University of Arizona."

2. Sarah LittleRedfeather Kalmanson
"Mascota is the Spanish word for a pet, such as a cat or dog - We are #NotYourMascot ... and, not your pet or trophy to have, we are human beings who deserve respect. If one of us is harmed by these mascots, or team names, then we all are ...

3. Richard Moeller
"I know it's not quite the same, but very few would be okay with a team named after the n-word or other racial epithets, even if it was "tradition" or not meant in a hurtful fashion. I feel they should change their name, but also that law shouldn't be involved. They are free to have a racist name, but the public is free to denounce it."

4. MrNitro
"How come there was zero controversy when they changed the name of the Washington Bullets basketball team to the Washington Wizards?
If they can change the name for that team, they can certainly change the name for the Washington football team!
Do people think if the name of the team was "The Washington Blackskins" that name would somehow be acceptable in society today?"

5. Doppio3
"The song in this video is by Doppio. They can be found in iTunes by searching "Doppio". The song is called "The Battle"

6. [This comment was written in response to what the commenter Chris Ames called "the argument" that "The Washington Redskins have been playing football since 1932. By waiting 80+ years to make an argument, you've more or less deemed the term acceptable for mass consumption".]
Meteor Blades
"The "argument" began in the 1960s when the National Congress of American Indians first brought it up. The difference now is that people are listening."

7. John Tyrrell Jr
"Whiteskins, Brownskins, Blackskins, Redskins...all sounds wrong...I hope this team name gets changed."

8. Cornelious Wren
"I think it is foul that we came then took their land and they have to politely ask us to remove the offensive label of Redskin. And I am glad to see that although this was not aired during the Superbowl it is getting the much needed attention it deserves."

9. [This comment was written in response to a comment that this ad was made for the sake of "political correctness".]
Michael Barret
"This ad was paid for by the National Congress of American Indians to save the lives of children, who are dying at an alarming rate. Founded in 1944, it is the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization. If you knew anything about Native life you would know who the NCAI is and you would never accuse them of playing the PC game. You would certainly know about the largest cultural youth suicide epidemic in human history as well, you might even have been interviewed by one of the many inspectors sent to the USA by the United Nations to determine the level of ongoing genocide against Native Americans in the USA as a result of this epidemic. You would also certainly know that many of the children who are taking their own lives, some as young as 5 years old, are writing “I am not a mascot” on their suicide notes. The nice people who made this commercial actually DO represent almost every tribal government in the USA, and the youth suicide crisis is what prompted their action."

10. Kate Wheeler
"I work at a middle school of 80% Dine (navajo) and some other tribes here in New Mexico. I'm interested to show this to my students. I bet they haven't seen it and it will be inspiring for many of them. I liked the film."

11. [This comment was written in response to a comment by +613and802 that some Native Americans don't consider the use of "R*dskins" for team names to be offensive.]
"+613and802 How about this. I don't care if it's offensive or not. Lets not use racial sterotypes as names for sports teams, mascots ore really anything else. If you want to go 'round your city calling people this cause you don't think it's offensive go for it.. Just be ready for what may happen."

12. Patrick Boberg
"What does it say about us when we put some manufactured entertainment history before the dignity of an entire race? -"

13. Larry Arenas
"The best Super Bowl commercial you DIDN'T see. Being one-quarter Mescalero-Apache I found this pretty powerful."

14. [This comment was written in response to a commenter who indicated that he preferred the referent "Native American" to the referent "American Indian".]
Meteor Blades
"+Eagleman1988 That's fine for you if that's your choice. But almost all the American Indians I know (hundreds) prefer to be called Indian or their tribal name. Mine: Seminole."

15. [This comment also refers to the use of the term "Indian" instead of "native" or some other referent.]
"Being from Canada (where we respectfully always refer to our indigenous people as Natives, Native-Canadians, and avoid using the term 'eskimo,' etc.), it baffles me that an ad about the inconsiderate and incorrect use of a derogatory term would call itself the Congress of American Indians. Why have Americans, and Native Americans at that, internalized the completely incorrect use of the term "Indian"? Certainly very few people throw the term "redskin" around (and thankfully so), but why is "Indian" tolerated, and even embraced? Someone please explain this to me."

16. Rael Nidess
"What an uplifting ode to the only 'Real' Americans! It's time we stopped debating about whether one term or another is disparaging and merely accept that if those described by it feel disparaged, then it is disparaging regardless of any other consideration. R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find out what it means to me!"

17.Ham neggs
"Time for the announcers and sports writers to drop the name in their articles. The Washington football team will suffice for now.
Love All Ways"

18. lilah tov
"I wish this video had aired during the Superbowl. It's embarrassing to see people defend a name that's a racial slur. 

19. MorisotMusic
"If this is not a big deal, not racist, then tell me: What teams are named after other ethnic minorities?

We don't have other derogatory team names because we know it's unconscionable. The name, and people who defend it, shows how little Native American/Indians people are regarded in this county. The majority doesn't even recognize them as a group that can be offended or requires respect. They don't even register. It's shameful. We all deserve the same basic respect and consideration.

And please, white people, stop telling minority groups what should & should not offend them. You literally have no idea what you're talking about. You couldn't even.

20. Tyson Walker
"The health, education and economic issues of Native America won't be fixed by this commercial, but it is a small piece that could effect other pieces. As a whole these pieces will show how, in our equitable and progressive 21st century America, this country felt toward its first residents. Change the name because it's a step forward."

21. HeatherZen
"You're flat wrong that Native people don't care about the mascot.

22. hn Lawrence
"Obviously, there are other, more important matters relevant to Native needs. The terrible unemployment and rampant poverty on many reservations are things that need to be dealt with and rectified sooner rather than later.

However, just because those issues are more important than the name of a football team, it shouldn't take away from the fact that this clearly is an instance of blatant racism and frankly, it's just not right. So, I think it's silly to pretend as though a name has no value.

It's bad enough that the U.S. government took away everything tangible these people had. By keeping an obviously racist name for a major sporting team, the corporatists are robbing native peoples of the one thing they have left -- their pride and self-worth."

23. [This was written in response to the question Why don't Indians move off of reservations?"]
"Many natives do move off of the rez. The problem is that even when they do, they tend to be balkanized into the poorest parts of cities which often makes things even worse. Those that are able to get out and become educated oftentimes leave for good, depriving the community of its best and brightest. Those that stay for family, clan, and friendship ties oftentimes have a difficult time getting the skills needed to survive in our complex world. That is changing with the advent of tribal colleges.
Additionally, prejudice and ignorance are large factors in natives' decision to stay on the reservation. Many (not most) white people who live near reservations are extremely racist and white people elsewhere tend to be extremely ignorant about their culture, history, and beliefs.
Is it any wonder that many natives perceive the outside world as being inhospitable, especially if they wish to pass on their heritage to future generations?"

24. DijitalPants
"Is five centuries of indignity and degradation not enough? We in white America should be ashamed if we cannot make even the smallest gesture of respect that is ending the ongoing insult to the people from whom we have taken so, so much. I'm an ally to this cause."

"Check out The writer goes into a ton of detail about how Native Americans as mascots is damaging. Part of the problem is what fans of rival teams do to put down those teams. For example, there's a guy who shows up at Blackhawks games with a fake head on a stick. Which is more than a little disturbing...

Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.

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Visitor comments are welcome.

1 comment:

  1. Here's a link to a post from an American Indian blog about the "Proud to be" video

    An excerpt from that post:
    "I’ve got a few questions/criticisms/things to think about. My thoughts aren’t meant to take away from the visual power and importance, I just want to bring up some things to think about...
    1) Tribal names. In this video, the filmmakers are attempting to create a counter-narrative to the common stereotypes of Native peoples represented by Indian mascots. So why are we using the western/anglicized versions of tribal names? Navajo rather than Diné, Sioux rather than Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota, Chippewa rather than Anishinaabe, Creek rather than Mvskoke, ect. I know our peoples have different preferences of what we call ourselves, but I feel like it would have been an even more powerful message if there would have been a statement of our tribal names in our Native languages. (#decolonize!)"
    Commenters gave other critiques, including this one from Dzil Łigai Si'án Ndee:
    "...The video is also missing some of our Women leaders such as Wilma Mankiller, Lozen, etc."