State Considers Name Change For Squaw Bay

Library of Congress“Squaw” is not a Coast Salish word, and that renaming the bay “Sq’emenen” would recognize the island’s Coast Salish history.
Library of Congress
“Squaw” is not a Coast Salish word, and that renaming the bay “Sq’emenen” would recognize the island’s Coast Salish history.


Richard Walker, Indian Country Today


The Washington State Committee on Geographic Names was petitioned on August 23 to change the name of Squaw Bay – on Shaw Island in the San Juan Islands – to Sq’emenen Bay.

“Sq’emenen” is the Lummi name for Shaw Island, according to Lummi hereditary chief Bill (Tsilixw) James. The committee will give the proposal initial consideration October 23 in Olympia. The committee, which meets twice a year, will decide in May whether to recommend the change to the state Board on Geographic Names.

The petition is signed by 30 people, among them citizens of several Coast Salish nations with ties to the San Juan Islands.

Noting the controversial nature of the word “squaw,” the petition states that over time the word came to be used “as a term of condescension, as a racialized epithet, and in a way that implies Native American women are second-class citizens or exotic objects.”

It also notes that the word “squaw” is not a Coast Salish word, and that renaming the bay “Sq’emenen” would recognize the island’s Coast Salish history. The Lummi, Samish and other Northern Straits Salish peoples originated in the San Juan Islands, and for thousands of years maintained and harvested resources on all of the islands, including Shaw. The Lummi Nation, Samish Nation and Tulalip Tribes still own land on the islands and have treaty rights and obligations within their historical territory.

Among those writing letters of support for the name change: Washington State Rep. Jeff Morris, Tsimshian, who had a Samish grandfather and grew up on nearby Guemes Island. “The name Sq’emenen is a more authentic and appropriate name and honors the Lummi Tribe and the history of Shaw Island and the surrounding San Juan archipelago,” he wrote.

Residents of Shaw Island met on September 19 to discuss the name-change proposal; residents prefer renaming the bay “Reefnet Bay (Sxwo’le),” because reefnet fishing – which was developed by the Lummi people – is still done there. “Sxwo’le “ (pronounced “shwalla”), is the Lummi word for reefnet. “Using both names teaches the language by seeing the two words together,” a representative said. “We also want to change the road name, Squaw Bay Road [on the island].”

Other governments in the United States have changed place names that contain the word “squaw,” among them the states of Idaho, Maine and Montana; and the city of Buffalo, New York.

In 2003, Squaw Peak in Phoenix, Arizona, was renamed Piestewa Peak to honor Pfc. Lori Piestewa, the first Native American woman to die in combat for the U.S. In 2011, the California Office of Historic Preservation changed the name of a state historical landmark, “Squaw Rock,” in the Russian River canyon, to “Frog Woman Rock,” to honor and respect the cultural heritage of the Pomo peoples of the region.



It’s On! March, Rally Against Washington Team Name Set for Dec. 28 march and rally against the Washington football team name is slated for December 28 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, organizers said.
A march and rally against the Washington football team name is slated for December 28 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, organizers said.

Simon Moya-Smith, Indian Country Today


A massive march and rally will meet the Washington football team as it closes its season on December 28 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, organizers said.

“As the Washington team’s season comes to a dismal close, we call on Dan Snyder to claim a simple win: change the name. Washington’s ongoing use of a Native American slur and mascot promotes the dehumanization, marginalization, and stereotyping of Native peoples,” reads a press release sent to ICTMN.

The march will begin at 10 a.m. and will conclude with a rally at a yet to be determined location, according to the release.

Organizers of the event include the National Congress of American Indians, the Oneida Indian Nation’s Change the Mascot campaign, the American Indian Movement, the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, Not Your Mascots and other organizations.

For more information, go to the event’s Facebook page.



Redskins Road Slated for Name Change

Lincoln County News
Lincoln County News


Simon Moya-Smith, Indian Country Today


Concern over more scrutiny – and possibly a lawsuit – has prompted residents of a town in Maine to rename a private road to something less offensive.
In August, the board of selectman in Wiscasset, Maine voted s 3-1-1 to name a road there “Redskins Drive” after the now-defunct name of the town’s high school. In 2011, the school’s mascot and name were changed to the Wolverines. Recently, property owners of where the road is located submitted a request to rename it “Micmac Drive” to evade further confrontation.
A letter signed by property owners, dated September 23, gave consent to change the road name “to avoid any further conflict or potential lawsuits with the Indian tribes in the state.” They offered Micmac Road as an alternative, The Times Record reported.
Activist and artist Gregg Deal of the Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe commended the move to change the name, but he questioned the ubiquitous practice of honoring Native Americans by naming streets and cities after them.
“I think it’s a good move to get away from a racial slur for street name, but I still find it disconcerting that they want to gravitate towards something Indian,” he told ICTMN. “It looks like a case of romanticism. Naming a road after a tribe to honor – that seems really strange when you begin to look at the history and relations with the people and even the specific tribes.”
Deal, who advocates for changing the name of the Washington football team, added sovereign nations have the right to decide whether or not they want to be honored in such a manner.
“If the [Micmac] are all about it, I honor their decision and their right to make such decisions for themselves. I do, however, question the constant need to honor indigenous people in weird materialistic and arbitrary ways.”
Regardless that the name “Redskins” is no longer the high school mascot, and given the road’s name is on its way to a change, people in the town of Wiscasset still have affection for the old moniker.
“It doesn’t bother me,” Julie Groleau told ABC-affiliate WMTW. “The word redskin – I know some people may look at it as derogatory but, um, it’s part of the heritage of the United States and it’s like a tribute to Native American Indians.  I don’t think of the term as something bad.”
Chief Edward Peter Paul of the Aroostook Band of Micmacs told The Lincoln County News he approves of the name Micmac Drive, according to The Associated Press.
The selectman will consider the name change on Tuesday. Representatives of Wiscasset did not respond for comment.



FCC Considering Move To Ban Washington Redskins Nickname

By Alina Selyukh, Huffington Post

WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to punish broadcasters for using the moniker of the Washington NFL team, the Redskins, a word many consider a slur to Native Americans, the agency’s chairman indicated on Tuesday.

The FCC, which enforces broadcast indecency violations, has received a petition from legal activist John Banzhaf III, asking that regulators strip local radio station WWXX-FM of its broadcasting license when it comes up for renewal for using the name “Redskins.”

Banzhaf says the word is racist, derogatory, profane and hateful, making its use “akin to broadcasting obscenity.”

“We’ll be looking at that petition, we will be dealing with that issue on the merits and we’ll be responding accordingly,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters.

“There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used over time that are inappropriate today. And I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those,” Wheeler added.

The FCC could formally deem use of the team name to be indecent, and thus impose a de facto ban on it on over-the-air television and radio.

Despite protests, vigorous lobbying and even intervention from President Barack Obama, team owner Daniel Snyder has vowed not to change the name of his National Football League team.

Some TV football analysts, including CBS’ Phil Simms and Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy, have said they will no longer use the term Redskins. On the other side, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, a Hall of Famer, says the issue is “so stupid it’s appalling.”

Half of the U.S. Senate asked the NFL to endorse a name change and the Washington Post editorial board has also said it will stop using the team’s name, although it will still be used in the rest of the paper, including the sports section.

In June, a panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademark registration because it considers its name and logo disparaging. The team has appealed the decision in federal court.

(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Ros Krasny and Dan Grebler)

Tribal chief: No FedEx until Redskins change team name

By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN

(CNN) — A Native American chief has asked all tribal employees not to use FedEx until the Washington Redskins changes its team name.

“Until the name of the NFL team is changed to something less inflammatory and insulting, I direct all employees to refrain from using FedEx when there is an alternative available,” Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear penned in his directive to all employees.

The tribe also issued a news release saying that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder “chooses to stick with a brand which dictionaries define as disparaging and offensive. FedEx chose to endorse that brand through their sponsorship of Mr. Snyder’s organization.”

It concludes, “The Osage Nation chooses not to use FedEx services. We encourage other tribal nations to consider similar actions.”

Standing Bear was not available for an interview, but Assistant Chief Raymond Red Corn said the tribe would “stand-pat” on the press release.

“It was not our intention to become a news item,” he said, adding that “ethics” drove the tribe’s decision.

The Redskins play their home games at FedExField, to which the shipping giant purchased the naming rights in a 27-year, $207 million deal in 1999, Forbes reports. Fred Smith, FedEx’s chairman, president and CEO, is part of the team’s ownership group.

Patrick Fitzgerald, FedEx’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, released a statement Wednesday saying that his employer values its sponsorship of the stadium and “we are proud that FedExField is a venue that is used by a wide range of community groups.”

“FedEx has closely followed the dialogue and difference of opinion concerning the Washington Redskins team name, but we continue to direct questions about the name to the franchise owner,” Fitzgerald said.

Snyder has repeatedly defended the name and wrote in a March letter that the name “captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.”

The team has employed Native Americans to defend the name and launched a site called Redskins Facts to promote its stance that the names honors Native Americans rather than disparages them.

The team also has created a foundation to provide resources to tribal communities.

The good deed hasn’t stemmed the controversy as opposition to the name persists, and President Barack Obama said last year that if he were Snyder, he might change the name.

In June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six trademarks belonging to the team, saying they were offensive. The team appealed the decision, saying it spent millions defending the trademark, and the patent office ruled the Redskins could use the logos until the years-long appeals process was complete.

The National Congress of American Indians has spoken out against the use of Redskins and other Native American mascots, and the Native Voice Network, which represents numerous Native American organizations, has targeted FedEx in its effort to convince Snyder to change the team name.

The Native Voice Network says use of “R-word” has a negative, dehumanizing effect on children, a major concern when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Native American people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Chrissie Castro, the Native Voice Network’s “network weaver,” says her group “definitely” supports Osage Nation.

“We’re very proud of their position and we’d love to see other tribal communities do the same,” she said.

The Oklahoma tribe has about 18,000 members and is situated in Osage County, the setting for the Meryl Streep movie, “August: Osage County.”

CNN’s Devon M. Sayers contributed to this report.

‘Redskins’ Players Weigh in on Name; Team President Says It’s ‘Respectful’

 Associated Press
Associated Press

Indian Country Today

Redskins President Bruce Allen sent a response to Senators Maria Cantwell (D-MD) and Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-NV) letter on Friday, saying that the team’s name was “respectful” toward Native Americans. “Our use of Redskins as the name of our football team for more than 81 years has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans,” Allen wrote in the letter addressed to Reid.

On May 22, 50 senators sent a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell urging him to endorse changing the team’s name. Goodell has yet to publicly respond to the letter, but Allen and his franchise remain defiant.

In his letter, Allen said the name “originated as a Native American expression of solidarity” and that its logo was designed by Native Americans (ICTMN reported that this story about the logo’s design was fabricated; as did the The Washington Post). He also wrote that a majority of Native Americans as well as all Americans supported the team’s name, a fact that has been frequently disputed; most notably by the Change the Mascot Campaign.

RELATED Change Happens: Majority of Wash Post Readers Now Say Change ‘Redskins’

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Some of the team’s players have tweeted their support for Allen’s letter. Each tweet from Ryan Kerrigan, Desean Jackson, Alfred Morris, Brian Orakpo, and Pierre Garcon said something similar, “President Bruce Allen sets the record straight in response to Harry Reid’s letter.“ Other players also weighed in in support of the letter.

Bruce Allen is the President and GM of the Washington football team (AP Photo)
Bruce Allen is the President and GM of the Washington football team (AP Photo)


In January, however, cornerback DeAngelo Hall told Mike Hill of Fox Sports that the team should “probably change its name.” He’s the only ‘Redskins’ player who has dared even whisper a public name-change endorsement. And the Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman, told, that the NFL would not take action similar to what the NBA did in banning soon to be former Clippers owner Donald Sterling for his racist comments“because we have an NFL team called the Redskins.”

RELATED ‘Redskins’ Player Says Team ‘Probably Should’ Change Name

But the National Congress of American Indians is hoping for more than just a few players to speak out. The organization reportedly sent more than 2,700 letters to players and former players in the NFL asking them to speak out against the name. The letter included some of Sherman’s comments on the Redskins name.

“Because you are in the NFL, you command a level of respect and credibility when speaking out about the league’s behavior,” NCAI’s letter said. “Indeed, players are the most publicly identifiable representatives of the league, which means your support is critical to ending this injustice.”

Players — some former players and coaches — were asked to respond using the hashtag #rightsideofhistory.

Here are a few tweets in support of the name change: