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A Different Take on the Name Change Talk

Since Florio @ NBC, the local ESPN 'talent', some of the local newspaper guys and a few others in the national media wont shut up about this. I figured I would share a different take on this 'issue'. Here is my personal take on it...

The team was formed by George Preston Marshall in 1932 as the Boston Braves. They played at Braves field with the then Boston Baseball team (who later moved to Milwaukee and then to Atlanta). The team image came from this association, borrowing a start and fan base from an established following. The following year (1933) Marshall's business partners left the upstart. Marshall now the full owner decided to move the team to Fenway Park, where the Boston Red Sox still play. Marshall being a shrewd business man (frugal/cheap) from his other businesses, such as his laundry chain, was also now on his own. Following his first example of trying to latch onto existing fan bases he renamed the team, without changing anything else that would cost him money or the tie-in with the braves fan base. Too cheap to change and wanting to leach off of both fan bases in Boston, while keeping the name(s) of the popular baseball teams and the name of the new landlords at Fenway you get the present name. Red Sox + Braves = Redskins.

The image of the team never changed from that of the Braves. The new name is meant to allude to the native warrior theme. For those not understanding this... "Allude: suggest or call attention to indirectly; hint at." or "recall in such a way as to suggest a relationship with it." Obvious intent and connection to Braves, native warriors, war paint, etc...

Is there an outside correlation to the *assumed derogatory reference of "red skins," possibly at a personal level for Marshall. Was George Preston Marshall a bigot? From many accounts yes, but so were most rich white guys of the time, including those who owned most other sports franchises. The simple facts remain to the meaning, use of and history of the name of the team; as not being derogatory.

From 1933-1934 William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz was the now "Redskins" head coach (and player). Thought to be a member the Sioux Nation. Also having attended the Chilocco Indian Agricultural School and played at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, a teammate of Jim Thorpe. The reason Dietz is mentioned at all is because of how Marshall used him and his image (factual or not is unknown to Marshall.)

"On or about July 8, 1933, Mr. Marshall officially changed the name of his franchise from the "Boston Braves" to the "Boston Redskins." Mr. Marshall chose to rename his franchise the Redskins in honor of the team’s head coach, William "Lone Star" Dietz, who was a Native American."

This has become the basis of the contestation against the team name. That because his heritage is contested his image (and use of his image as native American) is a detriment to the teams name and history. He attended a native American agriculture school, native American "college" and was married to famous native American artist Angel De Cora until her death in 1919. His complexion and image was such that even the main historical proponent of Dietz false heritage wrote this... "Naturally, visitors to the St. Louis World’s Fair exhibit, including Dietz’s future wife, Winnebago artist Angel De Cora, thought Dietz was a Chilocco student." His heritage was not in doubt at the time with history at native American institutions and a famous native American wife.

George Preston Marshall using Dietz to grandstand the name change for attention is part of the current problem with the name. That was all it was though, grandstanding to draw positive (at the time) attention to the name and image to ignore his piggybacking and cheap business practices with the team name and image. He would go so far as to have Dietz wear Indian headdress on a few occasions and to have the media (at the time) write that Marshall had "dishonored" his Indian coach by firing him later on.

The team name is not and never has been racially motivated. The focus of the team name and image is that of its foundation, the Braves baseball organization; Which became the Braves in 1912. The name and imagery of the Boston Braves baseball organization came from the owner at the time being a member of Tammany Hall, which used an Indian chief as their symbol. The native American chief used for Tammany Halls imagery, name and lead to native words and titles being used was Chief Tamanend. "Under the name "Tammany", he was a popular figure in America, especially in Philadelphia. Referred to as "Patron Saint of America", he became an emblem of peace and amity." This is the absolute root and patron of both the Braves and Redskins name(s).

None of this is racially based, none of this is racially insensitive. The argument can be made for being culturally insensitive. Having the focus of a culture on its warrior or military aspect; or you can argue the insensitivity of the evolution from the base of a peaceful chieftain to the present imagery of the brave being used. Remember though, this is a discussion over a sports teams name, where aggression, fighting and all associated imagery is used.

So while the original owner may have been a bigot and culturally insensitive, he was also cheap and business savvy. It is not in any way believable that the team name originated from hatred or malice that would doom his own venture. The Redskins organization uses what they believe to be a "noble" image of a *Native American chief, sans the warrior garb or war paint. What was done out of cultural sensitivity is being thought of as the image of a "red skinned person" and racist by those looking to find a problems or causes to champion. The majority of studies show a very highly favorable percentage of the native American population to the Redskins name and imagery. It would be in the Redskins favor to explain the real history of the name and associated imagery; to get away from the grandstanding and now contested false history of the name.

*The reason I mention "assumed derogatory reference" is the simple verbiage (manner of expressing oneself in words) used in the conversation between the natives and the "white skins." This was the base of communication between different cultures and languages; using native verbiage and structure. The white-skins and red-skins communicating through reference.

* The Native American Logo was designed in 1967 by Walter Wetzel, a chief of the Blackfoot Nation and former president of the National Congress of American Indians.

_________________________

Redskin is first recorded in the late 17th century and was applied to the Algonquian peoples generally, but specifically to the Delaware (who lived in what is now southern New York State and New York City, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania). Redskin referred not to the natural skin color of the Delaware (natives), but to their use of vermilion face paint and body paint.

Tamanend was a chief of one of the clans that made up the Lenape nation in the Delaware Valley at the time Philadelphia was established.

google image search or bing image search for "Lenape warrior"

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