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When news that the United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled six federal trademark registrations for the Washington Redskins broke on Wednesday, many were relieved that the disparaging name would be no more.

But as with anything that causes controversy, there was some pushback.

Well don’t you worry, @Luke_sw2. We’ve got you covered. And as for changing tradition, let us tell you how this one started.

Many Redskins fans will argue that the name stands for the achievements of Native Americans. Some say it stands for the bravery. Some, including owners of the team, believe it’s an honor.

Washington Redskins v Minnesota Vikings

But did you know:

– The name was said to be coined by early settlers in reference to the skin tone or body paint of certain native tribes. Tribes they eventually systematically exterminated…because of said skin tone.

– Redskin is similar to other racial slurs that are not socially acceptable to use. To drive that point home, here’s an excerpt from “Unkind Words: Ethnic Labeling from Redskin to WASP:”

Nearly half of all interracial slurs …refer to real or imagined physical differences. … Most references to physical differences are to skin color, which affirms what we have always known about the significance of color in human relations. Asian groups were called yellow this and that and Native Americans were called redskins, red men, and red devils.

– Redskin was also the term used for scalping natives. The use of the name today glorifies the early genocide of natives from American land:

Spencer Phips, a British politician and then Lieutenant Governor of the Massachusetts Bay Province, issued the call, ordering on behalf of British King George II for, “His Majesty’s subjects to Embrace all opportunities of pursuing, captivating, killing and Destroying all and every of the aforesaid Indians.” They paid well – 50 pounds for adult male scalps; 25 for adult female scalps; and 20 for scalps of boys and girls under age 12.

These bloody scalps were known as “redskins.”

The mascot of the Washington Redskins, if the team desired accuracy, would be a gory, bloodied crown from the head of a butchered Native American. (Read more of this Esquire article here).

– Dressing up like this if you are not a Native American (and abide by the traditions that surround these sacred items) is never OK:

Minnesota Vikings vs Washington Redskins - September 11, 2006

– Calling the Washington Redskins the “redskins” is not tradition. Technically, the team was originally known as the Boston Braves. Which, nope, not any better, but let’s cut the traditional bullshit. (Also, let’s respect the tradition of others while we’re at it.)

– Quite simply, the Oxford dictionary labels a “red-skin” as an American Indian — which is offensive in itself. Not that anyone is calling the early (but certainly not first) settlers of America “white-skins.” We’re just saying.

– And for anyone who disputes the etymology of the word, take a look at this 1863 document, posted by Esquire’s Baxter Holmes:

redskins1

Need we say more? For more information on the Washington Redskins’ name change, click here.

PHOTO CREDIT: Getty, The Daily Republican newspaper in Winona, Minnesota

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