A prominent Native American activist criticized the team name and branding of the Washington Redskins last night in an event held by the American Indian Student Union in the Atrium of Stamp Student Union, days after a member of the group publicly invited team owner Daniel Snyder, a panelist last week at the university’s annual Shirley Povich Symposium, to the discussion.
At “Redskins: Why Mascoting is Wrong,” Suzan Shown Harjo, a Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee poet, described the name of the team as “objectionable” and compared the appropriation of Native American culture, symbols and stereotypes by sports teams to the desecration of Native American burial sites and remains during the mid-1800s.
“Grave-robbing and mascoting seem to share the same small space in American culture,” Harjo told about 25 attendees. “It hearkens back to a time in our history when our people were skinned and scalped for bounties.”
AISU President Erin DeRiso, a senior government and politics and journalism major, said she was disappointed by the relatively low turnout. Earlier yesterday afternoon, Max Edwards, AISU ambassador and vice president of finances, predicted between 180 and 190 people would attend, enough to fill the Atrium to capacity.