Retired Patawomeck chief says he’d be offended if Redskins change name


Washington Post photo.

I’m ready to never write another word about the Redskins name, but the dang issue just won’t take a break. So, in the same week that 10 members of Congress sent a letter to Daniel Snyder, Roger Goodell, FedEx’s CEO and others, urging a name change, SiriusXM NFL Radio hosted Robert Green, the longtime and recently retired chief of the Fredericksburg-area Patawomeck Tribe, to ask him about the name issue. And he said he’d be offended if the team does change its name.

Now that’s a spicy pickle! Looks like someone will be offended no matter what happens.

“I think that first of all, you have to make a decision whether you consider it offensive or not,” Green said. “And frankly, the members of my tribe — the vast majority — don’t find it offensive. I’ve been a Redskin fan for years. And to be honest with you, I would be offended if they DID change it.”

Why is everyone so quick to take offense nowadays? Oh wait. Um. Anyhow, Green was asked why some Native Americans have described the term as offensive.

“Well, I think that first of all, our country has become too politically correct,” he said, as 73 percent of my commenters threw up their arms in praise. “And you can find it in any number of areas. Little League, where everybody has to get a trophy now, or otherwise the poor child that doesn’t get a trophy will have his psyche hurt.

“And I think what you have to do is look at where the name Redskins originated,” he continued. “There are some that give the term Redskin a negative connotation — to indicate that it was created by the white man to offend the Indians — but in reality the term Redskins came from the Indians. And they referred to themselves oftentimes — in treaty negotiations, in meetings with the early settlers – as Redskins. So it’s not a term that the white man created; it’s actually a term that the Indians themselves created.

“So I just believe we have people in this country that try and gin up problems where problems don’t exist,” Green said. “Now, our investigation into the term goes back pretty far, to 1608, when John Smith was traveling from Jamestown to meet with the Indian people. And he remarked in his diary that when they’re born they’re as white as we are; it’s only as they age that their skin darkens. And we believe that there was a reason for that. We use a bug repellant, for lack of a better term, that was made up of animal fat and the dye of the Pocoon (?) plant. And coincidentally, the Pocoon dye, when it’s crushed and dried, is red. And so for years, the Indian people were rubbing this red dye into their skin. And some of the other early settlers remarked that their skin turned red. So was that a comment made to denigrate the Indian people? I don’t think so.

“I don’t think the name was created by George Preston Marshall to be offensive,” Green concluded. “And if you look at the logo, there’s nothing offensive about the logo. I think one of the great things about the logo is that it’s an Eastern Indian, and they didn’t go to the full war headdress and things. So it was never intended to be offensive. I think sometimes we’re a little too touchy in our society these days”.

And then Green probably sent a melon baller to RGIII or something.

Dan Steinberg writes about all things D.C. sports at the D.C. Sports Bog.
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Dan Steinberg · May 29, 2013

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