White tears and aggressive Indians: Native activists on the Daily Show

In longform takedown by Adrienne K.92 Comments

gregg instagram1

A couple weeks ago, a stellar, amazing group of my Native activist friends, colleagues, internet-friends, and people-I-wish-were-my-friends gathered in DC for a taping of the Daily Show (see photo above, via Gregg Deal). The episode hasn’t aired yet (I hear it might be tomorrow??), but already it’s causing a bit of a stir on the internets. The Washington Post published an article on Friday entitled, “The Daily Show springs tense showdown with Native Americans on Redskins fans”. It has since been picked up by Time, Gawker, Yahoo Sports, Uproxx and many, many other sites, though all seem to be relying on the Washington Post quotations and reporting.

You guys, I have some problems with the reporting of this. Surprised? Of course not.

So here’s the quick version: The Daily Show recruited fans of the Washington Racial Slurs via twitter to participate in a panel about the name change. They chose four of them, who sat in a hotel conference room with Jason Jones of the Daily Show for awhile, as he asked them a bunch of questions–even pulling out a dictionary to read the definition of “that word” and the like. The show also had a panel of the Native activists, asking them questions about why the name is racist, offensive, and needs to be changed. Then, the show brought the two panels together, and things, apparently, got “heated.”

Cue white lady Racial Slurs fan crying, getting up during the taping, taking off her mic, asking to rip up her consent form, going home and CALLING THE COPS the next day because she felt “threatened.”

Meanwhile, the next day, the bros of the 1491s went to the tailgate at FedEx field, where they were subject to abuse from fans yelling and confronting them.

So, you’re the Washington Post, how do you frame this story? By attempting to make us feel bad for the poor Racial Slurs fans who were “ambushed” and “threatened,” of course.

Let’s start with the headline: “The Daily Show springs tense showdown with Native Americans on Redskins fans” Not, “The Daily Show arranges showdown between Native Americans and Redsk*ns fans,” or any other more neutral framing. This immediately sets up the fans as victims to the Natives, as the innocent bystanders.

I really want to break down the whole article line-by-line, but it’s like 2,000 words…you know what? Screw it. I’m annotating the whole thing. Ready?

The four die-hard Redskins fans thought the opportunity was as golden as the vintage helmets of their favorite football team: “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” wanted them to appear on the Comedy Central program to defend the team’s name, which has been under relentless attack.

First paragraph, fine, whatever. Note that the fans were excited to “defend” the name, meaning they weren’t tricked or coerced.

The Redskins Nation citizens eagerly signed up, most of them knowing that they might be mocked in their interview with correspondent Jason Jones. But several hours into the Sept. 13 taping of the yet-to-air episode, the fans, all from Virginia, said they were suddenly confronted by a larger group of Native American activists — all of whom were in on the showdown prearranged by “The Daily Show.”

Vomit at the use of “the Redsk*ns Nation citizens.” No. *We* as Native peoples use that language to describe our tribal Nations and our tribal citizenship. To use that to refer to the team’s fans accompanied by a racial slur is disgusting and inappropriate. So they were “suddenly confronted by a larger group”–again, placing them in the role of victim to the big, scary, Natives.

The encounter at a Dupont Circle hotel was so tense that an Alexandria fan said she left in tears and felt so threatened that she later called the police. She has told “The Daily Show” to leave her out of the segment but doesn’t know whether the producers will comply.

Here’s the hook for the article–that one of the fan’s “left in tears” and “felt so threatened she later called the police.” So as the reader, we’re already on her side. Nobody wants a nice white lady to cry! I mean, she called the cops! That MUST mean the Natives were soooo mean to her! Shall we go on?

“This goes way beyond mocking. Poking fun is one thing, but that’s not what happened,”

Is this a quotation from one of the Native activists about how Racial Slurs fans constantly mock our culture at games? Sorry, no, it’s from the really oppressed fan. Won’t someone think of the white people? (that was an alternate title to this post, btw)

said Kelli O’Dell, 56, a former teacher who lives in Alexandria and doesn’t watch the show regularly. “It was disingenuous. The Native Americans accused me of things that were so wrong. I felt in danger. I didn’t consent to that. I am going to be defamed.”

Ok, pause. I do feel bad for Kelli, that she was put in a position without her consent where she was forced to defend a position that she deeply feels is right, only to be told over and over again that it is wrong. Welcome to every time that Native people open their mouth about mascot issues. Though, (this is me being genuine now) confronting your own privilege is hard and scary, and it’s not easy to have to do it on national TV.

But to say you “felt in danger?” of what? That one of the Native artists, comedians, journalists, educators, or lawyers sitting in front of you was going to physically attack you? Wow. Just, wow. No savage Indian stereotypes here…

(ETA side note: O’Dell is listed as a “former teacher,” which gets sympathy votes, but she also is a former employee of the team and an “official fan reporter,” just FYI)

Now I’m skipping three paragraphs. Apparently the fans specifically asked if they were going to have to talk to real Natives, and were told “no,” so there is potentially some “deception” involved. But really dudes. You voluntarily signed up to be on a political satire comedy show that has been vocal against Native mascots in the past. Need a reminder? This awesome clip about University of Illinois should help. Again, I’m still having a really hard time feeling bad for you.

The Native Americans who confronted the Redskins fans — including Amanda Blackhorse, the lead plaintiff in the case that stripped the Redskins of their trademark protections this year and is being appealed — said in interviews that they marched into the room and accused the fans of backing a racist mascot.

Note the word choices: “Confronted,” “stripped,” “marched,” “accused”–these are purposely aggressive and violent verbs.

“My heart goes out to them because they are people, too,” said Tara Houska, an Ojibwe from Couchiching First Nation who lives in the District and works for the grass-roots group Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry. “But it’s a weird position for them to take, because someone is crying over the loss of their offensive mascot when I am right there, standing in front of them. I don’t think they’re racist. I think their mascot is racist.”

Really sounds aggressive and horrible, right? Those mean Natives totally thought they were racists!

The Native Americans endured some abuse, too, when they were taken to FedEx Field on Sunday to interact with Redskins fans who were tailgating before the home opener against the Jacksonville Jaguars. That also got ugly. At several points, according to one of the Native Americans, Redskins fans yelled obscenities at them, and one guy shouted, ‘Thanks a lot for letting us use your name, boys!’”

This is the only mention of the ongoing abuse Native peoples receive in fighting the name, and it’s almost aside. “Some abuse too”! Meaning that the “confrontation” and the pain the white fans felt is equal to the abuse that Native peoples face. Right.

Skip a few more paragraphs that give the context I gave at the beginning of the post.

The fans found Jones mostly funny. “We kept telling him that we felt the name honored Native Americans,” O’Dell said. “And then we just felt like, ‘Are we done yet?’ ”

Another vomit break for the tired “honoring” argument. Clearly, judging by the angry Natives up in your face, we don’t find it honoring, dude.

Skip a little more, where Bobby Wilson of the 1491s says that the Native panel knew what was going on, and it didn’t seem unfair to him, since we’re constantly confronting racism that way. Boo-yah. So then the “surprise”:

Jones pulled out some beer and chicken wings, O’Dell remembered, and sat back and watched. Both the fans and Native Americans said the room first filled with awkward silence, then vitriol.

“I said to them, ‘You sound like an alcoholic, someone who’s in denial and who doesn’t want to believe what they’re doing is not right,’ ” recalled Blackhorse, who said the interaction with fans left her feeling “dehumanized.” “They don’t see anything wrong with it. ­That’s what the owner [Dan Snyder] is feeding their fans.”

You go, Amanda. Note she says the interaction left her feeling hurt and dehumanized–why didn’t the article focus on the pain of the Native panel? Between the interactions during the “confrontation” and the tailgate abuse, that’s a story right there. But nope. We need to focus on the poor fans. Ready for that?

O’Dell said she felt trapped. “I was told that I was ‘psychologically damaging Native American children,’ and every time we tried to say something, we got cut off,” she said.

She said she took off her microphone while they were still filming. As she packed up her belongings, Shroff, one of the producers, approached her.

“I said to him: ‘This is not how adults behave. This is not anything I signed up for.’ Tears were running down my face. I was shaking,” O’Dell said. “I told him to tear up my contract. He said, ‘I don’t know if I can do that.’ ”

She was trapped, “this is not how adults behave”…tears, shaking. This actually describes exactly how I felt after a panel I did in AZ where I had to defend my work to a white audience, including several white males who got in my face after the panel, one pointing his finger in my face, telling me I was wrong, denying my doctorate had any value, saying mascots were “not an issue.” The difference? This is my identity we are talking about. The very core of my being. My people, my ancestors, my heart, my work. This is the pain I, and other activists, go through daily in this fight. Ms. O’Dell? She was crying and shaking because folks wouldn’t let her defend a mascot of a sports team. This is not the same thing, at all.

All four fans said they still would have gone on the show if the producers had told them in advance that there would be a debate. But they felt misled and exploited because they weren’t told. Hawkins said he wouldn’t have worn his Redskins jacket — at the producers’ insistence — if he had been expecting to square off with Native Americans, especially one of the leading activists against the team name.

Again, “misled” and “exploited”–you want to talk about exploitation? Ask a Native. The line about the jacket kills me. So he’s admitting, right then and there, that he knows the image and name are disrespectful to Native peoples. Why are we still even having this conversation?

“Going up against Amanda Blackhorse? It’s like playing football and they’re going to have RGIII,” Hawkins said, referring to injured Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III. “I am just an average fan. These are activists who have media training and talking points.”

I love the comparison of Amanda to RGIII. haha. Au contraire mon dudebro, while some of the group have had experience being on TV before, none of them have had “media training” (maybe Amanda with the lawsuit?). We just learn by constant experience. But this is clearly trying to set up a power imbalance, the “trained” activists against the poor, “average” fans.

Skip a paragraph about O’dell trying to email the producers to edit her out.

Two days later, O’Dell said she called D.C. police and tried to submit a police report, but authorities told her no crime had been committed.

LOL at “no crime had been committed.” This act, to me, says the most of the privilege and power involved in this than any other part of the story. If we’ve learned anything in the murder of Mike Brown, or any of the other young, unarmed, men of color shot by police forces in the last few years, and continuing issues with stop and frisk and police brutality, it is that police in the US exist to protect and serve whiteness. People of color would never, in a million years, believe that calling the police after being confronted and harassed in this manner would make any difference. Because this type of harassment is something that happens every. single. day for people of color, often by the police themselves. I say this in the most non-snarky way possible: only a white person would think that police intervention could help in this situation.

The final paragraph:

The Native Americans, meanwhile, celebrated the experience on social media. “We had a blast shooting with thedailyshow Jason Jones is a master of his craft,” tweeted Ryan RedCorn , a 1491 member, linking to an Instagram photo showing him and his colleagues posing with Jones at Fed­Ex Field.

So the final image we’re left with is Natives “celebrating” their victory, while the white lady cries. An image perpetuated in tons of westerns and other images of the “savage” Indian. Okay.

It’s so fascinating to me how this was all framed. This fight against the Redsk*ns mascot is not about Native people. It’s about power. It’s clear that these fans know that the name is not honoring to Native people (case in point: the jacket comment), and according to my insider sources on the Native panel, after the “confrontation,” the fans conceded points and actually came to some levels of understanding–only to recant the next day on social media and play the victim. In this situation the fans felt powerless and struggled to have their voice be heard. Welcome to the club.

As I always say, you ask me why representations matter. They matter because in 2014 a panel of Native lawyers, artists, journalists, and activists, with several advanced degrees and decades of experience working with and in our communities, are still framed as aggressors, violent, confrontational, angry, and yes, implicitly savage. You can’t tell me that it’s not all connected. Our identities are erased and replaced with the stereotypes you see every weekend on uniforms at FedEX field.

But one final note: We have every right to be angry. We have every right to be aggressive. Society often wants us to confront racism the “right” way, which is the way that makes white folks feel the least uncomfortable. But we need to be loud, we need to make our voices heard. These are our identities and futures on the line. Respectability politics be damned.


There is a secondary purpose to this post, and that is to support Gregg Deal, one of the panelists (ok, spoiler alert, he’s my insider source). Gregg is a friend, an artist and activist fighting tirelessly to change the ways Native peoples are represented.

He’s doing a new performance piece (accompanied by murals and other art), in which he will endure 8 hours of abuse to demonstrate the pain Native peoples go through around these issues of representation, including mascots:

In his performance piece during Art All Night, Gregg Deal will subject himself to abuse mirroring the various types of injury routinely endured by Indigenous people. Executing this piece within the Nation’s capitol is especially provocative as it is part of an ongoing conversation about the problematic and racially charged name and imagery associated with the Washington Football Team, The Redskins. While Deal’s performance stands as an illustration of the racism directed towards Indigenous people (including Deal), it is part of a greater statement about the incredible amount of inequality, bigotry, and misunderstanding experienced by Indigenous people, often expressed through both covert and overt hostility. As an indigenous person, Deal will exhaustively endure abuse, a taxing effort mentally, physically and spiritually.

I find it especially timely and important given the Daily Show coverage. So how can you help? He needs funds to support the project, and has an indie gogo campaign that ends TOMORROW (9/23). Please support if you can! He still needs a couple thousand dollars to cover his costs for the event:

Support Gregg Deal Here! 


Washington Post:  The Daily Show springs tense showdown with Native Americans on Redskins fans”


  • Johnnie Jae

    Not to mention that the traumatized “former teacher” is an official fan reporter for the Washington team.

  • Chris Newman

    “The line about the jacket kills me. So he’s admitting, right then and there, that he knows the image and name are disrespectful to Native peoples. Why are we still even having this conversation?”

    Right? RIGHT???? I don’t know how many times I’ve had this exchange:

    Me: “Would you ever actually refer to Native people directly as redskins? Say if you had a Native friend but you didn’t know his tribe, and his heritage came up among your friends in conversation, would you say ‘hey, my friend Bobby here is a redskin.'”?

    Dudester: “Um… no. Why would I do that?”

    Me: “F**k if I know. You tell me.”

  • T.C. II

    I’m glad that you provided more details concerning the Daily
    Show segment. I read the article that you talked about in this post, and I laughed
    to myself at the poor, pitiful white woman who had to confront the fact that
    there are Natives who oppose the name and logo of her precious team.

    Amanda Blackhorse, Simon Moya-Smith, Ryan Red Corn, and the
    other Natives who participated in this segment deserve all the respect and
    support that we can give them for having the courage to face these fools. We
    are gaining ground in this fight, little by little, and it is the efforts of
    Natives such as these folks that are keeping this issue in the spotlight. It is
    going to be a glorious day when the name is changed, and I don’t think that day
    is far away from us.

    Keep doing what you’re doing, Adrienne. In a tribal nation
    filled with many folks who are only “Indian” for the “benefits,” I’m happy to see
    a fellow Cherokee citizen who has such passion for Native issues. Whether you know it or not, you are helping the genuineness of our tribal nation to heal after
    years of abuse by wannabes and those looking for hand-outs. Thank you for being
    a strong voice in this fight.

  • bloomie

    This is such a good article, thank you for writing it.

  • Creekgal

    Funny, a police report. Really.! Lmao

  • Sarah Stupar

    I found your analysis really interesting, because I read the same article as you and did not at one time even feel an iota of sympathy for any of those Washington Racial Slur fans. I was laughing out loud when I read that that lady started crying, like, that’s f*ing hilarious. The quotes they used from the Racial Slur fans just served to illustrate what morons they are. So what if the final scene that we are left with is victorious Native activists and a crying white lady? Is that not good? Am I horrible person for thinking that was awesome?

  • Jim

    It’s pretty sad that these Washington fans believe they have a right to offend Native Americans to the point of wearing apparel with a known racist slur written all over it, and racist images, whether it’s a pro-sports team or not. But when it comes to openly defending their choices to the people their offending and the media they cry that it’s unfair. The Daily show knew if these Washington fans had a heads up about having representatives from the Native nation there to confront them they either wouldn’t have shown or would of had a completely staged encounter. The one fan says he likely wouldn’t have worn the Washington team jacket had he known Native Americans were going to show. I still wonder if the fans will grow from this experience and realize that they’re dealing with a people and their culture and not some stupid sports team name.

  • The white privilege is strong with Keli ODell. It is as if she’s mainly angry that someone stood up to her and said no, no white person you can’t just do whatever.

    As for the 1491’s, and as a person of African-Native American mixed heritage I will never forget their use of blackface, and their choosing to confront, of all people, a woman of mixed African American and Navajo descent at a Utah game to try and make their point. They chose that woman thinking, I’d bet money thinking she was just black. In doing so those big strong men bypassed so many drunk white guys they could’ve confronted. So could they be a little, or a lot too aggressive when who they are bravely confronting is a woman sometimes. Hell yes.

    The Redskins mascot should be relegated, to the ash heap of history. It is a terrible racist caricature. But how our spokespeople have acted in the past and how they come off now matters.

    • Tyler Brown

      Washington dc is majority black americans when are they going to stop wearing the team merchandise the black panthers doing this are so racist.

        • Tyler Brown

          The majority of those fans are black Americans they are supporting, cheering, and playing for that team I think they might associated with the racist black panthers idk.

          • If it is a matter of appropriation then it must be admitted ndn’s do it too.

      • beenwiser


        Most Redsk*ns fans are white people from the suburbs of Virginia and Maryland, not black people from DC proper. The team is actually headquartered in VA, trains in VA, and they play in MD. The Redsk*ns incidentally were also the very last NFL team to desegregate and hire black players.

        • Tyler Brown

          you don’t know who proportion of fans are white or black your full of shit, my statement was a fact Washington dc is majority black American for you to think the black residents are not fans of there football team is ignorant and intellectually dishonest.

          • beenwiser

            DC is majority black. Doesn’t mean Redsk*n fans are majority black. Thats what you’re implying, and YOU have provided no proof

            • Tyler Brown

              The proportion does not matter quit holding only caucasions in contempt for what black American and Hispanic Americans are doing to. That’s racist.

              • beenwiser

                I don’t have any contempt for Redsk*ns fans. Some guy said DC is majority black and I responded. I think thats a non sequitir, it doesn’t mean that the majority of Washington football fans are black. Pretending a problem is “black” when its not is racism. Clarifying that the white majority also has that problem isn’t racism.

            • Jerimiah Johnson

              What you think someone implies doesn’t matter in a factual argument, I stated a fact, you stated a opinion with no facts to back it up you don’t know the fans proportions, census data proves my statement true Dc is majority black Americans.

            • Jerimiah Johnson

              The teams players are majority black Americans there is no denying that bubba, If you agree with the 1491’s than they are bigoted and insensitive and if you don’t agree with the activists opinions than they are not.

          • beenwiser

            I said MOST Redsk*ns fans are white people from the suburbs, not ALL. I’m not denying that a portion are black people from DC, I’m just saying that portion doesn’t constitute a majority. Don’t talk to me about “intellectual dishonesty” when you can’t even read a sentence accurately

            • Jerimiah Johnson

              I read your sentence and its ignorant because you don’t know the fans demographic data. Just like I said.

    • Jerimiah Johnson

      There is no such thing as white privilege its a fictional concept. The only thing white people cant do are the same things all others cant do under English-United states common law/ US constitution which applies to everyone.

    • Jerimiah Johnson

      Those drunk white men could of have native American heritage to as many caucasion looking people do, actually majority of native americans have caucasion heritage in them and many look very fair skinned and even white, the native American carry with them caucasion ancestors. This is just the history of North America.

  • Leah C

    Ugh, I read that story. Through work I know someone who was there and
    they said it was very dramatic but pretty satisfying to see. It sounds
    like the reporter got a call from the petulant fans and took the story
    from there.
    I take solace in the fact that MPD basically laughed at her when she called to report her hurt feelings.
    Also, proponents of the name change seem to be increasing in DC, just based on my own personal anecdata.

  • Natalie

    Is there gonna be a video of this on the internet? Im from Germany and I really want to see it! Great analysis btw Adrienne. :) Keep up the good work!

  • I found the framing of the article strange as well. Is the Washington media that in the sack for keeping the racist name? I had no idea.

    I am looking forward to seeing The Daily Show eviscerate these fans on national television. And if you feel like crying when confronted with the reality of your racism, maybe you should try not being a racist instead of calling the cops and the newspaper.

  • tecumseh

    great analysis. Thank you. So frustrating! Especially all the words – attacked, marching, stripped, crime, exploited, tricked – that so aptly apply to the treatment of First Nations by the United States, but have been flipped here to represent a verbal confrontation of racism by privileged, clueless white people.

    Truth is truly stranger than fiction.

    Keep it up sistah

    • Tyler Brown

      Go confront all the black American and latino fans.

  • Keone Rivers

    its ironic how often they tote the “thin skin, over sensitive” rhetoric in regards to people decrying acts of racism. it seems to me they quickly fall apart when they are personally confronted over their racism. i wonder how many times this woman has told a native american they are being oversensitive about the mascot, and the moment she actually meets native americans in person to tell her how they feel she straight up breaks out in tears and runs away like spoiled brat preteen and even CALLS THE COPS. she is like the poster child of white privilege.

    • Kamehameha

      Why is it that people like yourself that have mostly white blood feel the need to hate whites so much? Why the self loathing?

      • Keone Rivers

        lol if it isnt my little wanabe-Hawaiian stalker. hows that shrine your building to me in your basement? did i see you in my trash the other day trying to harvest my old toe nail clippings? lol ‘a’ohe ou mea aho e hana ai e ho’ohala manawa? ‘a’ohe kuleana kou, ‘a’ole pa’ahana, o wau no ka panepo’o o kou ola? lol ‘aue, ka na’aupo o ke’ia wahi keiki.

        • magicbologna

          LOL wut.
          well that was interesting. do you “know” that guy…?

          • Keone Rivers

            no he just likes to stalk me online, he has some kind of unhealthy obsession with me.

        • Kamehameha

          Just trolling a troll. How’s that spray on tan working for you?

        • beenwiser

          Hi Keone :) I remember you had some solid stuff to say in another thread, and then there’s this other character- Hawaiian nationalist, won’t admit any connection between European colonization of her island and European colonization of other indigenous people, wants Hawaii to return to monarchy, tries to tell black people their oppression is weak or imagined because Native Americans have/had it worse. What a pointless wedge to drive, its like some Stormfront dickhead came up with an online persona designed to pit POC against eachother

        • Kamehameha

          “wanabe-Hawaiian” Funny stuff Keone, you’re the poster child for wanabe-Hawaiians.

      • kilocharliecharlieoscar

        I thought it was only God’s job to judge? Why do you think you can deny someone of a heritage? Does that make you feel better than everyone else? Your skin is a little darker so you you think you are entitled to say what people believe? What makes you any better than the white man? All I see with you is bigotry.

        • magicbologna

          WTF are you guys talking about?

        • Kamehameha

          “go back to Europe where you belong. your like viruses filthy disease crying rats, the plague of the earth, you disgust me.”

          • kilocharliecharlieoscar

            Ah that’s cute. Apparently you never actually listened to your elders growing up. It is sad to see the traditions of old get lost in the anger and bitterness of the modern age. Funny how one speaks of plagues and viruses when all you are doing is spreading hate and anger which is far more of a virus than anything else. You enjoy your self destructive opinions but keep them to yourself. “Regard heaven as your father, earth as your mother, and all things as your brothers and sisters”

            • Kamehameha

              I’m just quoting your good buddy Keone Rivers.

              • kilocharliecharlieoscar

                Being Indian is an attitude, a state of mind, a way of being in harmony with all things and all beings. It is allowing the heart to be the distributor of energy on this planet; to allow feelings and sensitivities to determine where energy goes; bringing aliveness up from the Earth and from the Sky, putting it in and giving it out from the heart

                • Kamehameha

                  Put the weed down, Bear Claw. Being Navajo, Crow or Comanche means that’s who your ancestors were. If I like pizza it doesn’t mean I’m italian.

                  • kilocharliecharlieoscar

                    My ancestors were apache but just because their blood runs throughout my veins doesn’t determine who or what I am. I made that choice. I took the lessons of the elders and let them in my heart. I be a mutt in the eyes of you supposed pure breeds. The father knows who I am. And I could care less what someone like you thinks when you speak out of both sides of your mouth. Do not wrong or hate your neighbor for it is not he that you wrong but yourself

                    • Kamehameha

                      You show great wisdom on board of keys Bear Claw. The elders of dial up have taught you well. May your IP soar on the great server cloud.

                  • Mark Stoleson

                    That analogy is pretty crap.

              • Mark Stoleson

                I would like to know where he said it.

                • Kamehameha

                  He goes by Hawaiiansile on youtube, look it up yourself or have “Keone” deny it.

                  • Mark Stoleson

                    The fact that you put his actual name in quotes says a lot about you.

      • Mark Stoleson

        Why do you use the name and image of our first king? Is this supposed to somehow boost the credibility of your comments, or did you do this just to agitate or mock Keone and other Hawaiians? Whatever your true heritage may be, your race-based comment is un-Hawaiian in nature. An attitude of exclusion is not in the spirit of our kupuna. There is no hatred of whites in Keone Rivers, only hatred of willful ignorance.

        • Kamehameha

          A quote from Keone Rivers “and tell all your mongrel trailer park hordes to go back to Europe where you belong. your like viruses filthy disease crying rats, the plague of the earth, you disgust me.” Sure, no hatred there.

          • Mark Stoleson

            What was the context of this quote and where was it said? As you present it here, you’re right, it doesn’t sound like a right or pono thing to say. But does that then give you moral license to respond in kind? Keone’s initial comment on this article has nothing objectionable in it like the quote you bring up. Why do you choose then to masquerade as a revered Hawaiian figure and attempt to psychoanalyze and disparage Keone if not out of a spirit of spitefulness? You’re merely repaying ignorance with more ignorance.

            Moreover, you insult other Hawaiians with the notion that a certain blood quantum is required to be “Hawaiian enough”. Hawaiian-ness is a perspective, state of mind, and national identity, not some arbitrary amount of blood as determined by those outside of a culture. Neither you nor anyone else has the authority to deny people their own culture.

            • Kamehameha

              Are you 1/16 Hawaiian?

              • Mark Stoleson

                Can you read?

                • Kamehameha

                  I love how fake Hawaiians get so pissy when their 1% blood is questioned.

                  • Mark Stoleson

                    I am interested to know how you came to the conclusion that I am of low Hawaiian blood quantum simply because I refused to answer your frivolous question. What calculations and assumptions led you to that conclusion?

                    Your position seems to be that “real” or “fake” Hawaiian-ness is determined by blood quantum, but that is a highly faulty line of thought. For example, let’s say a baby with no Hawaiian blood is adopted into a full-blooded Kanaka Maoli family. That child is raised within the culture, learning the language, traditions, and practices, and as an adult they continue to perpetuate that culture. It would be silly to argue that such a person has no right or authority to claim Hawaiian as their culture or that they’re not Hawaiian simply because of their biological parentage.

                    The only way such a person could be considered a “fake Hawaiian” is if one defines Hawaiian solely as a required blood quantum and disregards all cultural aspects. However, such a definition is purely biological and has no bearing on one’s culture, which is wholly separate from biology. Does a half-blooded Kanaka Maoli who is culturally Hawaiian have less authority to speak on Hawaiian issues than a full-blooded Kanaka Maoli who is culturally Italian? That would be nonsensical. Clearly the important factor in Hawaiian-ness is one’s culture, not one’s blood quantum.

                    When Keone and I (and almost everyone else) say we are Hawaiian, we mean this in the cultural sense, which is the only sense that matters. Make whatever assumptions you want about my blood quantum, your position is based on a confusion of terms and thus is blatantly illogical. Moreover, your desire to play blood quantum arbiter and pass judgement on those Hawaiians (cultural) whom you feel aren’t “Hawaiian enough” (biological) is kinda creepy.

                    Here’s the adopted Hawaiian in question:

                    • Kamehameha

                      The mere fact that you won’t answer the question tells me you’re a fake. Hawaii is filled with posers like you and keone claiming to be Hawaiian. Why can’t you take pride in who you really are? I have a friend whose great grandmother is Navajo. He says with pride he’s an eighth Navajo. He doesn’t claim to be Navajo and then go on and on about how “his” land was stolen. He doesn’t because he’s not an ass.

                    • Mark Stoleson

                      The fact that I won’t answer your question does not, in fact, logically imply that I am a “fake”. It does, however, imply that I consider your question frivolous and rude and that I do not want to indulge you by answering it. You ought to take a course or two in logic before you attempt to use it.

                      I *do* take pride in who I am. Ethnically speaking, I am Hawaiian & Caucasian. I can appreciate both of these heritages, and I don’t believe that I have to choose between the two. Both are my culture. That is how I was raised. My Hawaiian ‘ohana considers me Hawaiian. The larger Hawaiian community sees me as Hawaiian. The only people who have ever told me that I am not Hawaiian are people who are not Hawaiian themselves and can’t seem to wrap their heads around the distinctions between race, ethnicity, culture, and national identity. Usually those people are online commentators who have never even met me, like you.

                      What exactly are you trying to say? That my parents were wrong for raising me as a Hawaiian? That Hawaiians are wrong if they see me as Hawaiian? That anyone who is Hawaiian and thinks I’m Hawaiian is wrong about me and anyone who isn’t Hawaiian and thinks I’m not Hawaiian is right?

                      Navajo comparisons don’t exactly translate to the situation in Hawai`i. Unlike the Native American tribes, Hawai`i modernized itself into a society governed by the rule of law i.e. a modern nation-state, and as such it has the addition of a national identity, which was the identity of all citizens of the Hawaiian Kingdom, including ones of Asian, European, African, or Native American heritage. This national identity has been maintained and is spreading more and more to the larger community of all Hawai`i residents every day. Also, unlike the Native American tribes, Hawai`i has a solid legal framework with which to claim that Hawai`i is in fact an occupied nation.

                      I suggest you actually figure out what it is that you are fighting against. Learn the history and context to which you are trying to speak. Until then you’re just tilting at windmills.

                    • Kamehameha

                      So people with 1/16 Hawaiian are Hawaiian, but people who are 1/8 Navajo are not Navajo? And was Sanford B. Dole, who was born in Hawaii and spoke Hawaiian, a Hawaiian? And was the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii then a legitimate revolution were a people overthrew a monarchy in favor of a democracy? If not, why did every government with a diplomatic presence in Hawaii recognized the Provisional Government within 48 hours of the overthrow?

        • Jerimiah Johnson

          Hawaii is USA territory after USA saved you from being ruled by Japanese and built every modern thing there Hawaii could never repay the value of those charities.

    • Jerimiah Johnson

      White privilege is a fictional term made up by reverse racists. Privilege is earned and never given freely.

    • Jerimiah Johnson

      There is no such thing as whit privilege, this is a concept rooted in reverse racism.

  • merchantfan

    Jeez, what did they expect when they signed up for a Daily Show segment? It’s ridiculous how whiny the privileged can get sometimes.

    • Tyler Brown

      They didn’t expect to be insulted by professional activists who debate controversial issues for a living.

    • Jerimiah Johnson

      privileges are earned and never given freely.

  • Dotherightthing

    One side knew what the setup ultimately was going to be and the other did not (perhaps even lied to rather than just not fully disclosed)… doesn’t seem right to me.

  • I wan’t to support the native people’s, and I’m not a sports fan, so it’s not like I feel defensive about a team. BUT as an actual leftist, I find the entire conversation is driven by critical theorists who some how believe progressive capitalist fighting legislation will trickle down… just as soon as that name is not used anymore. I’ve heard it from the twitter accounts of the activists. To top it off there would be one thing that would change my mind, a message from the native people themselves AND NOT THE ACTIVISTS. How about an official condemnation from the first nations? That would close the issue to my mind. BTW it isn’t stereotypes that stop meaningful change, it’s capitalism and the political systems it created. The ONLY thing that would change, would be addressing a genuine offence to the people themselves…. NOT you, not your BS critical theory, and not your funded social organizations. … In other words I hate you for choking up the political air, and refusing to fight genuine for the concerns of the people you “claim” you support. .. ” but why can’t we chew gum, and yadda yadda yadda”… Because we can’t OK, one look at our modern history shows a distinctive rightward march despite your feckless efforts.

    • Adrienne_K

      “a message from the native people themselves AND NOT THE ACTIVISTS. How about an official condemnation from the first nations? That would close the issue to my mind.”

      Dude: http://nativeappropriations.com/2014/06/who-has-spoken-out-against-the-redskns.html (there are at least 40 tribes on here, which is not even an updated list. NCAI, which is our National organization representing tribal nations as also issued an “official condemnation,” which is included on that link. Do your research.)

      I’m not even going to address the rest of your BS diatribe. The assertion that Native activists are not representative of “the native peoples themselves” is a new one.

      But if eradicating Native mascots isn’t going to help anything, I’d like to know what it will hurt to get rid of them. Honestly. I’d also like to ask what you’re doing for the to “fight the genuine concerns” of Native peoples, since apparently I’m not.

      • Kaylee6

        Agreed. Do we really need every single Native American to condemn the practice? Isn’t it enough that we have the voices we have saying “This is wrong”? Heck, it’s wrong, and that should be it full stop.

  • Great post Adrienne! Thanks for taking the time (we all know you loved it :p) to breakdown the article and give us an annotated version. I love the sarcasm in your writing on these topics – it literally had me laughing out loud at different points.

  • jackcaughran

    OK, you win. You’re a bigger victim than the Redskins fans.

  • Tyler Brown

    Washington dc is majority black American they have been buying merchandise cheering supporting and even playing for this team when are those racist black panthers going to stop.

  • HooHaSixO’Clock

    Fantastic break down. Thank you so much.

  • Hegetarian

    Why not just change their name to the Washington Crackaz? Or, in a nod to the highly government-focused business of the city, the Washington Pondscum?

  • Mesocyclones

    Adrienne, can you tell me how getting rid of the name Redskins is going to help the issues affecting Native Americans? What I predict is the name being dropped and the PC white social fascists moving on to another issuse to feign outrage over. But since you are a millennial I see you’ve swallowed that whole social justice-white privilege garbage hook, line and sinker. Where being offended is an art form and minority groups jocky for who can be the most offended. It reminds me of communists in Cuba arguing with each other over who was the bigger supporter of the revolution.

    Respectability politics be dammed? Victim politics be dammed!

    P.S. Tsi Tsalagi…..just like you!

    • Cara Williams

      If you can’t even get people to stop using a racist name that references killing Native Americans for fun and profit… then how can you possibly expect people to treat those same Native Americans with respect in their everyday lives? Social change starts with the small things – and once those small things start to happen, then the big problems aren’t so big anymore.

  • Vanessa Marie Niño-Tapia

    Reminds me of the Color of Fear and the white dude totally invalidating Victor. BTW u are awesome, your doctorate is awesome, and your work is so important. My non-native nephew is only 4 and already I’m fostering racial consciousness in him and hell yeah taking him to PowWow and teaching him some Yoeme stories so he becomes aware of the systematic abuses of racism and to have some tools to combat racism. So thank you for your work sister.Chiokoe uttessia ako.

  • samthor

    “We have every right to be angry. We have every right to be aggressive. Society often wants us to confront racism the “right” way, which is the way that makes white folks feel the least uncomfortable. But we need to be loud, we need to make our voices heard. These are our identities and futures on the line. Respectability politics be damned.”


  • Michael Johnson

    Well produced Adrienne! More media breakdowns like this are needed, as it is important to illustrate how they position words to manipulate public opinion, and WHY we feel the way we do about the subject of mascots. When analysis is done like this, you get a MUCH better picture, even if the comments are tainted in favor of a cause… it doesn’t matter, the points are made.

    One subject that every single news media outlet refuses to print or make public has nothing to do with sensitivity to native people. If has to do with Money. If the Redskins change the team name, it will inevitably snowball downhill causing other teams that also have offensive mascots (I’m looking at you atlanta, cleveland, kansas city, etc…) they too will have to change their names as well. It will cost the sports industry millions of dollars to do so.

    And the funny thing about that subject is that the fans all say the same thing… they will support their TEAMS regardless… so you would think that this would be a non issue for owners…. yes, they loose some initial money, but really, in the long run they won’t, so why not just do it?

    I also like how you positioned “White privilege”. Because it is a real issue in this country, and it speaks to the core of foundation of the United States. This country, like it or not, is founded on borrowed and stolen things. And as a result, be it intentional or not, whites feel empowered to make and enforce rules and laws. They feel it is their right. And that the rest of “Us” are expected to “just accept it”.

    You hear “We are a nation of laws” used in the news media all time. Especially regarding the subject of immigration. Well, America is a nation that was created by force. literally. We are here, and you all (natives) will comply or be killed. Tribes of the east coast have a history of death and eradication. Yet we survived. “Tho shal not be called Pequot”. There is a document called “The Treaty Of Hartford” that states that about my tribe, The Mashantucket Pequots of Connecticut, that sites in the library in Hartford. It states that we “no longer shall speak your language”. That is pretty much permanent folks. These are things that are not taught in public schools.

    Yet these Fans say “Deal with it”.

    I say No. We won’t. You will deal with us.

  • Scott Crofford

    Getting this out of the way, I support changing the team name. it is time we moved on and if it is genuinely offensive to a proud cultural heritage I appreciate and empathize with the need.

    Yet, I’d be more supportive at times if I didn’t hear or read the term “white people” , or “white privilege” so often. I doubt a single person using either term can properly define what they are supposed to mean, it is just bandwagon morality for the purpose of ego fulfillment at the express of compassion or real understanding.
    There is no such thing as white people, there is no unified cultural heritage, its just as racist as any other all encompassing generalization about ethnicity. Look up the struggles of the Irish and Scottish in the new world for example. Europe, the UK, Russia, and many other nations produce so called “white people” and their cultural views and experiences are vastly different.

    There is certainly a bias present in given communities and cultures and I don’t dispute that, but people fighting against the so called “white man” are just playing a fool game into the wrong hands. This kind of bias is equally present in all cultural or racial groups. As an example look at the often clever way certain east Indian cultures utilize the system in north America in culturally unique and at times perhaps opportunistic ways. The ability to use their methods requires a cultural heritage I lack. I am by definition excluded from these means by my race.

    The fact that a white man runs a corporation doesn’t do much for the average white man, just as the president being black hasn’t suddenly changed the social landscape in the USA profoundly. Perhaps aspirationally but that is very different from real immediate social impact. You don’t get my sympathy or empathy by perpetuating the very sins you claim to oppose.

    If you think all white people share some sort of advantaged position you are hopelessly ignorant of the nuances of reality. The fact that something can be an advantage is not the same as it being an advantage. Wings for example are not an advantage within a cave. A multitude of other factors come into play, certain racial heritages have cluster effects of advantages or disadvantages but being in those racial groupings does not guarantee any or part of any of those clusters. General statistics have little bearing in immediate reality, just because a group has a larger percentage of this that or the other thing, it is each individuals circumstances that are important. This fact of logic and understanding is why our legal system uses judges, the acknowledged fault of any general rule to be able to encompass or express all unique individual circumstances.
    You can lift a group up without pulling another group down, this does not need to be a crab bucket mentality of a world, that is the game you’ve been tricked into playing and you make enemies of your allies every day by playing it.
    You turn the dream into a nightmare and perpetuate your own hell.

  • Thank you for this excellent analysis, Adrienne. Spot-on as usual.

  • fenderbass


  • Jena

    I’m interested in asking you how you felt about the Cherokee portion of the segment, and the resulting vitriol from other Natives against Cherokees in the comments sections. On the one hand, I’m sick of people claiming Cherokee ancestry (whether they have it or not) without any knowledge of the culture. I was ashamed to see people claiming Cherokee ancestry and using it as leverage to support racist imagery. On the other hand, I felt that the piece added to a running narrative of de-legitimization of Cherokee people, especially those who aren’t members of the tribe. (Myself and several other people I know have either been barred from entry due to increased restrictions or lack of paperwork, or were even fully enrolled citizens who were removed from tribal rolls when acknowledgment criteria were changed, and we’re no less Native and no less invested in our culture.) I must admit it is disappointing and hurtful to see comments from other Natives punishing or accusing all Cherokee people of the sins of a few. It seems to me that every tribe has at least a few people willing to sell out, whether it’s scouting for Custer, wearing R*****ns jackets on a field, or what have you, and we don’t need to punish each other for the mistakes of those who happen to share tribal affiliation. Any thoughts (anyone)?

  • Jerimiah Johnson

    The Celtics, Cowboys, and Vikings mascots offend me wha,wha, wha, wha, wha, who can I cry to for attention and tv appearance contracts.

  • Jerimiah Johnson

    1491 is that all they go back ha they all do look like they have some caucasion or European descendants in them. My descendants where here much before 1491 from the clovis “caucasion” people in America 10,000 bc people to kinniwik man to the Viking Eric the Red 900ad in America. When the Asian immigrants later to be called American Indians which also have Russian dna got to America or anyone else. Is of little importance in the big concept picture of nation building and national sovereign identity.

  • Daniel Washburn

    So as a hypothetical, lets say the original Team name was not “the Washington Redskins,” But the “Washington Niggers” chosen as a way to Honor Black Athleticism. Does that put it into perspective for anyone? Eventually people will understand “Redskins” is a Racial Slur. Communicate directly.