Poll Vault: Are American Indian team names racist?

  • Team owner Dan Snyder has vowed never to change the name of the Washington Redskins.

    Team owner Dan Snyder has vowed never to change the name of the Washington Redskins. Associated Press/Sept. 9, 2013

  • Antioch High School uses American Indian imagery in its logo, even though there is no tribe known as the Sequoits.

    Antioch High School uses American Indian imagery in its logo, even though there is no tribe known as the Sequoits.

  • The Chicago Blackhawks logo, proudly worn by team captain Jonathan Toews, generates relatively little protest.

    The Chicago Blackhawks logo, proudly worn by team captain Jonathan Toews, generates relatively little protest. Associated Press

  • The University of Illinois' teams are still known as the Fighting Illini, but players no longer wear Chief Illiniwek insignia.

    The University of Illinois' teams are still known as the Fighting Illini, but players no longer wear Chief Illiniwek insignia. Associated Press

 
 
Updated 9/20/2013 1:10 PM

Billionaire NFL team owner Dan Snyder has so far resisted mounting pressure to rename the Washington Redskins to something more politically correct.

On the surface, the name is cringe-inducing. But ESPN's Rick Reilly wrote a thought-provoking column this week on whether American Indians are actually offended by "Redskins."

 

Here in the suburbs, Naperville Central and Huntley high schools replaced "Redskins" with other mascot names (the RedHawks and Red Raiders, respectively). Antioch High School's teams are known as the Sequoits and sport a logo with Indian feathers and an arrow, but there's no tribe by that name.

Chicago's Stanley Cup champion hockey team calls itself the Blackhawks, and fans proudly wear the Indian head logo.

There is definitely a fine line between a symbol and a caricature. I think Chief Wahoo, the Cleveland Indians logo, is offensive, but I staunchly defended the use of Chief Illiniwek by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, my alma mater.

Are all American Indian team names racist? Is it possible to have a mascot that honors Indians? Which do you approve of and which do you find offensive?

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