September 19, 2014
The name of the Washington Redskins football team has inspired protests, lawsuits, letters from Congress, even nudge from the president. Yet behind the headlines, it's unclear how many Native Americans think "Redskins" is a racial slur.
Some say this uncertainty shouldn't matter because the word has an undeniably racist history. Others say it shouldn't matter because the team does not mean to be racist. There are 2 million Indians enrolled in 566 federally recognized tribes, plus another 3.2 million who tell the Census they are Indian. And it's difficult to tell how many of them are opposed to the name.
Certainly many Indians believe the name is racist, but it is used affectionately by some, and the only recent poll of Indians found most did not consider the term offensive.
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