What's in name? Redskins find out from Indians

December 28, 1990|By Vito Stellino

The controversy over the National Football League's plans to pull the Super Bowl out of Phoenix because the voters turned down a Martin Luther King holiday took a new turn involving the Washington Redskins yesterday.

The president of the American Indian Bible College, David Moore, wrote commissioner Paul Tagliabue suggesting that the league should force the Redskins to pick a new nickname if the league really is concerned about civil rights and racial issues.

It was Page 1 news in Phoenix, where there's much resentment over Tagliabue's plans to move the 1993 Super Bowl because the voters rejected a King holiday last month. The league is expected to take the action in March.

"If the NFL were really motivated by ethnic concerns, why would they have a team called the Redskins?" Moore asked. "What if some other team came into the league and decided to call themselves the Blackskins and the Yellowskins?"

Moore said if the Redskins failed to change their name, "I and the American Indians who attend this college are forced to conclude that your concern about the lack of a Martin Luther King holiday is strictly business-motivated and has nothing to do with race consciousness."

Kee Ike Yazzie, a Navajo education official, said the name Redskin is "offensive and derogatory."

"We do not all live in tepees," he said.

There have been complaints in the past about the Redskins nickname, but neither the team nor the league gave any indication a change will be considered.

Charlie Dayton, a team spokesman, said the name is part of the Washington tradition "just like the Washington Monument and museums," and said it reflects such Indian traits as "courage, strength and bravery."

Greg Aiello, a league spokesman, said, "Team nicknames are often a celebration of American folklore."

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