December 06, 2008

Mohawk slams Redskin "rubbish"

We get e-mail (complete with misspellings):Grettings Mr. Schmidt,

This morning I came across your article, slamming redskin magazine! As a Mohawk from Six Nations, the same place that Redskin originated from, the place where Jay Silverheels was born and who is my great uncle, the same place that Robbie Robertson spent many summers as child, I am deeply offended that a White American would write such rubbish, about a magazine that started to give all thriving Native artist's a platform. The magazine was started by some individuals with a goal of helping our native musicians, our native actors, and our Native Models. The Magazine is not about glamorizing Native issues in the slightest. It's about subsistence. It's about growing our heritage, it's about being proud to be a Native recording artist, or Actor. Their are plenty of Natives in Northeastern Canada and United States who are very talented, but have no voice or platform for media. Redskin serves as a sort of platform where Natives can present themselves to other Natives and for all Natives to appreciate. As for your sites and articles,I only came across them as I searched for Redskin, they are very interesting and it's cool to see you have Native advisors, but i would advise you to get an advisor who represents the Iroqouis or Chippawas, or someone from the northeast. All you have is Southern peoples, and when you attack something the represents us from the north, it does not sit easy. I don't buy or enjoy Redskin, but many of my friends and family have interest in the magazine do well.

Gregory Cal Smith
My response:


>> I am deeply offended that a White American would write such rubbish, about a magazine that started to give all thriving Native artist's a platform. <<

Slight correction: I've written mainly about the magazine's title, not its content. The so-called platform you refer to is unrelated to the magazine's title.

I'm "deeply offended" that you've attacked my postings without addressing their claims: that many Natives consider "redskin" offensive. Now that you've vented your emotions on an unrelated issue, see if you can rebut my arguments.

>> All you have is Southern peoples, and when you attack something the represents us from the north, it does not sit easy. <<

Wrong. The people listed include Natives who are EastMain/Free Cree, Onodowaga/Lenape, Athabascan (Alaskan), Anishinabe, and Ho-Chunk. They're from the northern parts of Indian country.

But that's irrelevant because I'm not relying on them.

FYI, I work in the Native news business. I'm an editor at, the Internet news source, and I write articles for Indian Country Today and other publications. That means I base my opinions on dozens of news items from Indian sources every day. I'm not limited to what my advisors think no matter where they come from.

How about you? How many dozens of Native news items do you read a day? What are your credentials for knowing what Natives across the United States think about the word "redskin"?

Apparently you're unaware that many Natives consider "redskin" an ethnic slur. That includes many Natives who are Iroquois or Chippewas, or from the northeast. If you disagree, take it up with them, not me. They're the ones saying "redskin" is offensive.

You can read about the word "redskin" and what Natives think of it here:

Red·skin n.  Dated, Offensive, Taboo

In particular, check out these postings:

Chinks, Sambos, and Redskins
Survey on Redskin magazine
Colusa drops "Redskins"
Reactions to Redskin magazine
Indian watches Redskins
R-word = n-word
The Redskin-macaca connection
R-word tackled again

Educate yourself first, then get back to me about what you've learned. We can discuss which of us understands the Native consensus about "redskin" better.



gaZelbe said...

This is a tricky issue because in general, I support the young people reclaiming the "r-word" like many young black people have reclaimed the "n-word". However, I have to see "N****r Magazine" on the shelves. I think that is an important point to make. Reclamation is one thing, but at what point does reclamation start to look like sanction? There is a good reason we don't see "N****r Magazine". As hip as some people might find such a title, most would perceive it as endorsing greater acceptance of the word; an acceptance which would be necessarily perceived as an attempt to move past(dismiss) the suffering of a community that still feels oppressed.

As if that wasn't enough, it most certainly undermines the efforts to expose the racism of sports teams' names like the Washington Redskins. While we still struggle with such blatant racism, it is inappropriate to send the message that "redskin" is in any way acceptable.

dmarks said...

Very good points. Also to be considered that R***** magazine is probably seen by far many more Natives than non-Natives. Just as N***** magazine would be, if it existed.

Rob said...

I support Natives' right to define "redskin" as offensive or inoffensive to them. From what I've read, the "offensives" have it at the moment.

If and when Natives reclaim the word and declare it neutered, I'll support that position too. I'm all about agreeing with Natives (except when I disagree with them).

But asserting that the word is reclaimed, as Team Redskin seems to have done, doesn't make it so. It isn't reclaimed until the majority of Natives say it's reclaimed. And that hasn't happened yet.

Therefore, I'm sticking with the mainstream position for now. It's the one you'll find in the dictionaries. You know, the ones that define "redskin" as dated, offensive, or taboo.

arty martin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
arty martin said...

i've read all your articles pertaining to redskin as a name. I see you have a very condescending and arrogant nature about you, very nice. The people defending the issue have made interesting retort and in defense you insult grammer & spelling mistakes? WTF, Rob? Inner-net dun meen shite whn it cums ta proppa grammerz and letter-put-togethering, you should know this! But, this isn't about you, is it rob.

See, I was born and raised on Six Nations. When I started going to school off-reserve, I started hearing insults, such as: dirty natives, fucking natives, piece of shit indians, etc., from teachers, classmates, even people at the malls and convenience stores. This article, Red·skin n. Dated, Offensive, Taboo, Harjo and Michael Tamosky write about the same situation but with 'Redskin' as the subject.

So, because they had that experience with that name, redskin bad. I get it. But, the people in my community are insulted with the words, native and indian? What now? I got it, to relieve the issue, how about everyone who uses the words native, indian, and redskin just stop it right now! Matter of fact, how about we all start blogging, we'll be condescending arrogant pricks to our readers who try to defend what they feel is right, because WE have the answers.

Naw, that wouldn't change nothing. You take those words away and maybe they'll start yelling, "You dirty, fucking Ongwehon:we!!". And thats the last thing I need to hear, is a non hurling insults at me in my language. HOLY ATHEIST SHIT!!! All hell would break loose!

Difference is something that should be encouraged. I encourage you to continue your snide-isms, your champion of native people-ing, your blogging. Because Rob, you have talent. But don't you think you should use it to benefit a greater cause. Six Nations on-going land disputes for example.

No, i'm not going to pay you. But someone might.


Anonymous said...

Hi there, Just saying hi to the forum.