Actual Native Americans Set the Record Straight on Cultural Appropriation


My personal favorite sign of the times when it comes to virtue signaling is when sports journalists won’t say “Washington Redskins,” instead replacing it with some variety of “the Washington professional football team.” Yes, because that will solve everything.

It isn’t just that the name “Redskins” is offensive, mind you. It’s the fact that the name is culturally appropriating Native American heritage. Back during the controversy involving a certain NAACP leader who didn’t happen to be African-American despite her protestations otherwise, sports journalist and ESPN personality Kevin Blackistone wrote a piece for The Washington Post titled, “Washington football fans are as guilty of cultural appropriation as Rachel Dolezal.”

“For much of my life, at least on fall and winter weekends, I was Rachel Dolezal,” he proclaimed, clearly with no whiff of melodrama. “I donned a T-shirt, sweatshirt or cap emblazoned with some image and nickname of my hometown football team and cheered it on. In the beginning, it was a gold-and-white spear and arrowhead festooned with a single feather. Then it became a burgundy R with a circle around it and a pair of white-and-burgundy feathers dangling down the back. Finally, the R gave way to the silhouette of a dark-skinned man with feathers cascading from his scalp.

“He was an ‘American Indian,’ as we’ve come to call the original and native people of the Americas. And the feathers, the golden spear and arrowhead, the paint that some who sat in RFK Stadium near Dad and me streaked on their faces, the headdresses that a few fans wore and nicknames they gave themselves, such as a guy who went by ‘Chief Zee,’ were all that concocted Native American’s property — or his people’s.

“We stole it. That’s called cultural appropriation,” Blackistone concluded. “It’s misapplication. It’s misuse. It’s a callous disregard of the sensibilities of others who are not us.”

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Part of the problem with this logical construction is that Blackistone is not the other of which he speaks. This isn’t an argument from experience. He didn’t know “the sensibilities of others who are not us,” because he wasn’t one of them.

That’s something we actually never bother to ask when controversies like this arise. And, you know, with cheap airfare and tools like Skype, it’s not difficult to find out what Native Americans actually feel on this issue. PragerU did, and it’s probably not what you (or at least Kevin Blackistone types) think.

In the video, posted Wednesday, Will Witt visits the Window Rock, Arizona — the capital of the Navajo Nation.

The first person featured was actually a Washington Redskins fan who didn’t find the name offensive. The second pointed out that the team actually came to the Navajo Nation and put on football clinics. Same with the third.

Do you think cultural appropriation is a made-up problem?

“If someone came to me and called me a redskin to my face, hey, it’s my fault for letting that hurt me,” he said.

“I believe as Navajos and Native Americans, we have larger issues to deal with than name-calling.”

The Cleveland Indians also passed muster, even though Chief Wahoo has been another target in the cultural appropriation debate.

As for Elizabeth Warren, her quest for Native American heritage didn’t go over quite as well, with one person pointing out that if they went to Ireland and tried to claim a modicum of Irish heritage they’d probably face incredulity.

This also seems to jibe with a poll, taken by the same Washington Post, which found nine in 10 Native Americans had no problem with the Redskins name.

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“I think it has become very unfortunate that we live in a culture and a society where outrage has become a recreational pastime,” one of the Navajos said.

Watch the video below:

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture