Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

NCAI representative calls Washington Post poll “irrelevant” to team name debate


The National Congress of American Indians describes itself (without any opposition of which we’re aware) as “the oldest, largest and most representative American Indian and Alaska Native organization serving the broad interests of tribal governments and communities.” And the NCAI continues to oppose the name of the Washington franchise.

So what about the recent Washington Post poll, in which 90 percent of 504 self-identifying Native American adults said that the name “Redskins” doesn’t bother them?

“To be honest, I think it’s irrelevant,” NCAI legislative associate Brian Howard said on Friday’s PFT Live on NBC Sports Radio. “No other racial group has to be polled on an issue of social justice, especially when it comes to racial identifications or racially-driven names such as this.”

That’s a very fair and accurate point. The term already has been defined by the custodians of the English lexicon as a slur. Why do the targets of it need to chime in to confirm that?

More importantly, how do the views of roughly 450 Native American adults overcome the consistently-articulated position of the National Congress of American Indians?

“There was a lot of criticism in the Washington Post article saying, ‘Well, tribes have a lot bigger issues to worry about,’ and as a Native American myself I don’t prioritize our issues in terms of importance,” Howard said. “I think that all of these issues are interchanged, interlinked, and affect each other. . . . I think that in terms of this poll it definitely is getting a lot of recognition but there’s also a lot of tribal people and tribal organizations out there that are saying, ‘Wait a second, you’re polling a significantly small portion of the Native community and you’re also polling people that are self-identifying as Native American,’ which as we all know with issues around cultural appropriation, it doesn’t really capture what the movement has been about for the last few years.”

Although supporters of the name would love to declare victory and end the debate forever, that apparently won’t be happening. Perhaps the poll result will cause a movement that often operates in sputters and spurts to coalesce and grow, with more and more Native Americans speaking up to say that they side with the NCAI’s longstanding position over a limited number of people who simply called themselves Native Americans in response to a random polling effort.