Former Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL) said on a Sirius XM interview this week that, despite numerous calls from Native American groups to do so, he does not believe the Washington NFL team needs to change its name.
“I don’t think it should change it,” the Republican presidential hopeful said on the The Arena. “But again, I don’t think politicians ought to be having any say about that, to be honest with you. I don’t find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive.”
Last June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeal Board cancelled the team’s trademark registrations “because they were disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered,” though the team is pursuing an appeal.
Snyder also happens to be helping bankroll Bush’s presidential campaign. In April, he contributed $100,000 to the Right to Rise Super PAC, a legally unaffiliated pro-Bush committee for which Bush himself actively raised money.
Bush dismissed the controversy over the team name, comparing it to similar criticism over the Florida State University. “We had a similar kind of flap with FSU, if you recall, the Seminoles,” he said this week. “And the Seminole tribe itself kind of came to the defense of the university and it subsided. It’s a sport, for crying out loud. It’s a football team. Washington has a huge fan base — I’m missing something here, I guess.”
But unlike the tribal name of Seminole, the term “redskin” is offensive to many. A 2014 poll found 83 percent of Americans said they would not use the term to a Native American’s face.
And while the team and proponents of the current name often cite an 11-year-old poll that found about 90 percent of surveyed self-described Native Americans did not find the team name offensive, a website maintained by the Oneida Indian Nation lists the Hoh Indian Tribe, Penobscot Nation, Samish Indian Nation, Shoshone-Bannock Tribes, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians Gun Lake Tribe, Native American Finance Officers Association, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, Poarch Band of Creek Indians, Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Inter-Tribal Council of the Five Civilized Tribes, and the Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation as all opposing the team’s use of the “redskins” term.
The Oneida Indian Nation's Change the Mascot campaign released a statement denouncing Bush for "endorsing the NFL’s preferred racial slur against Native Americans."
“What is surprising is that in promoting the use of this slur, the governor somehow believes he speaks for Native Americans and can assert that Native American people do not find this slur offensive. He clearly is missing something," the group said. "What is even more appalling is the governor’s declaration that because he personally doesn’t find this slur offensive, that makes it acceptable. This should be a very simple open-and-shut issue in the 2016 campaign: No presidential candidate should be promoting this racial slur against Native Americans.”