The United States National Football Leage (NFL) and it’s Hunky Dory Saucery Thing (which is beyond my scope of imagination) have never held any interest for me. The sport doesn’t elicit any reaction other than sympathy for the players’ bodies, although my disinterest bears no grudge against those who enjoy a game, whether from within the dynamic minefield of titanic collisions or from the comfort of their own home’s sofa, or anything in between. In fact, I know so little of the culture, statistics, and geopolitical implications of the sport that before last week I couldn’t have named three teams off the top of my head. Today, I unsuspectingly watched this:
This unaired – due to lack of funding, unsurprising due this year’s <$4,000,000 price-range – Super Bowl commercial stopped me in my tracks. The American Indians (known widely as Native Americans) are a widely unacknowledged and marginalized people in the United States. Since 1932, Washington D.C.’s NFL team, the Washington Redskins, has disgraced and insulted them carte blanche, steady in its firm conviction of etymological propriety. Because the United States of America is regarded and identified internationally by its largely immigrant (of many generations or not) population and subtly hegemonically ruling class, American Indians are seemingly hidden from the public eye, underrepresented and underserved. Within the country itself, the same tragedy seems to hold true. Ignorance and profiling abound, quite often with its purveyors unconscious of its offense, though blatant racism towards those of Native heritage is by no means unheard of in some US locales.
I’m no activist, but I recognize injustice when I see it. The National Congress of American Indians has represented American Indians and their interests to the political waters of the United States for fifty years, and it is they who are leading this powerful campaign to change a (hopefully) perfectly decent sports team’s outdated and offensive name… and mascot.