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Why Native Americans deserve more as Redskins consider name change

Yeah, the Washington Redskins name change consideration could  mean that the NFL may finally be taking a more culturally in tune approach to their insanely rich industry.

Yes, this is a great win, not just for Native Americans but also for our society in order to progress forwards. What’s another recent win?

Remember the Dakota Access Pipeline that was built back in 2017?

Both environmentalists and Native-Americans particularly the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe protested the pipeline due to the dangers it posed on land.

The land is also sacred and religious land for the Sioux Tribe. Finally, a judge ordered a temporary shut down of the pipeline in order to complete an in-depth environmental review.

Still, although these wins are great, they’re only slight wins in a big pile of losses. They’re not even surefire wins.

We need to push further than a Redskins name change, fam

Remember, the Redskins name change hasn’t been confirmed and the company running DAPL refuses to shut the pipeline down, despite the court orders and vows to appeal the judge’s decision.

Cultural insensitivity towards the First Nations peoples is arguably nothing new; it’s woven into the very fabric of American history. From Thanksgiving to even Mt. Rushmore.

Ignoring and disrespecting Native American culture and rights is a consistent plot device in the story of America. Hell, even in 2016 the make-up company named Mac released a ‘Vibe Tribe‘ collection that imitated Native-American, specifically Navajo designs.

Talk about making money off of cultural appropriation.

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Let’s talk history

If you’re wondering what Mt. Rushmore has to do with disrespecting Native Americans, here’s a quick historical recap. The area in which it is built upon, aka the Black Hills, is a sacred region originally belonging to the Sioux tribes.

Sioux men, Black Hills, 1875, detail
Sioux men, Black Hills, 1875

This was not just prior to colonists’ arrival. In the Treaty of Fort Laramie, the Sioux tribes were promised this territory, and more. This crucial land is even more important because the Sioux used it for religious purposes.

It’s not really surprising a photo went viral of an Indigenous trio flipping off the site.

Imagine a new neighbor forces you to make room for them on your land and you begrudgingly agree. You both sign a contract on who gets what.

Then that neighbor finds out you might have gold on your land. Your neighbor pressures you to give up more of your land. Did I say pressure? I meant kills your family and anyone related to you for saying no.

That’s what happened during the massacre of Wounded Knee in 1890. Troops killed members of the Sioux tribe that carried out resistance to the forced removal.

Later the U.S. government ordered the desecration of one of the Black Hills, a sacred mountain “The Six Grandfathers.” President Coolidge had a KKK affiliated artist etch into it presidents of the same government that slaughtered the Sioux tribe’s ancestors and took their land.

But again, Mt. Rushmore is really not half of it. Genocide, forced removal, and stolen land are ubiquitous among U.S. history when it comes to indigenous peoples. It’s the deeper larger end of the iceberg, of which the tip of it is cultural appropriation.

Appropriation is Not Cute

That Mac collection is not the only merch you can find online that appropriates Native American culture. Think of how many Halloween costumes that are up every year, from sites like Spirit,  that have at least nine different variations of costumes or even Party City.

Even if you dodged big retailers, you can still find loads of merch, like ‘tribal-style’ jewelry, on websites like Etsy and eBay. The problem is that a lot of these sellers are not actually celebrating traditions or even actually Native-American.

They are instead catering to an audience that wants the aesthetic choice that has a basis in harmful stereotypes, for trivial celebrations like parties and festivals.

And yes the cultural appropriation issue is nothing compared to larger life and death issues. But again part of the same iceberg.

Stand With Indigenous People

Right now, Native-American people are dying from the lack of funds from the United States that they were promised.

An estimated 30 percent of the population of the Navajo Nation do not even have clean water. So while people continue to make an entire culture a wearable aesthetic, the people of that culture are actually dying.

It’s simple enough, stop appropriating cultures. And if you’re really down for a change, stand with the Indigenous peoples via protest, calling your representatives and voting.

Doesn’t hurt to donate the money you were going to spend on that costume either. And don’t forget to support Native businesses.