By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – David Grosso, 42, was born and raised in the metropolitan Washington area so it's not tough to see why he's a diehard Washington Redskins fan. Been going to games since he was a boy. Season ticket holder.
But Grosso, like so many others, objects to the name and mascot of his favorite team.
"The term Redskins is a racist and derogatory term," he says.
These days, Grosso has the power to do something more than air his opinion. He was elected to the D.C. Council in November, and he plans to introduce a resolution Wednesday to rename the team to the Washington Redtails. That's a tribute to the Tuskegee Airmen, though, Grosso says, there are plenty of redtail hawks in the area.
He's open to other suggestions. He just wants the current name gone. FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Suzan Shown Harjo remembers when she walked into a store with her grandfather in El Reno, Oklahoma. She wanted to get something cool to drink on a summer day. It was the early 1950s and the storekeepers told the 6-year-old she had to leave.
“No black redskins in here,” they said.
At that moment, Harjo felt small, unsafe, afraid. Because she was a dark-skinned Native American – Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee – she was being identified by just her coloring. She wasn’t even a whole human being. Not even her grandpa, whom she saw as all-powerful, could do anything to protect her.
Later in her life, that incident made her angry. Angry enough for Harjo to launch a lifelong mission to protect her people.
Part of her work took aim at sporting teams that use Native Americans as mascots. With the start of the baseball season this week, some of those teams have been front and center. The Cleveland Indians, for instance, feature a smiling Indian dubbed Chief Wahoo, criticized by Native Americans as a racist caricature.
The most offensive example of a mascot, says Harjo, is the one used by Washington’s football team. She has been fighting for years to get the Redskins to change their name.
The R-word – she can’t even bring herself to say it – is the same as the N-word, says Harjo, president of Morning Star Institute, a national Native American rights organization.
She finds it unbelievable that more than half a century after she was told to get out of that El Reno store, after decades of civil rights struggles and progress on race relations, Americans have no problem with rooting for a team called the Redskins.
Fans say the name is an honorific. But the Merriam-Webster dictionary says this: “The word redskin is very offensive and should be avoided.” And to many Native Americans, nothing could be more derogatory than the use of that word.
“The Washington team – it’s the king of the mountain,” Harjo says. “When this one goes, others will.” FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – In the end, the Braves are keeping with tradition - as in the signature 'A' that is the team's logo.
MLB.com posted a photo of the new navy blue batting practice caps with a red and white scripted 'A.' The team will wear those hats at spring training, which starts Tuesday.
The Braves said a decision on the batting caps had not been made yet when a potential design was leaked several weeks ago. That design drew ire for its "screaming Indian" logo.
"I like the selection we made this year," Braves President John Schuerholz said in a statement Monday. "We had a variety of choices that we looked at, some more thoroughly than others. But at the end, we liked this one."
But writer Paul Lukas of ESPN's Uni Watch blog, who broke the news of the cap design in December, wasn't buying the Braves' statement. He suggested the Braves withdrew the design because of the furor it caused. FULL POST
By Bill Mears, CNN Supreme Court Producer
Washington (CNN) - A custody battle involving the "best interests" of a 3-year-old Cherokee girl will be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court, an issue spanning the rights of adoptive parents and the desire to preserve Native American families within tribes.
The justices announced they will hear an appeal from Matt and Melanie Capobianco, who legally adopted little Veronica in 2009, shortly after the birth mother agreed to give up the child. Oral arguments in the case will likely be heard in April with a ruling by late June.
The South Carolina Supreme Court in July ruled for the biological father, who had sought custody shortly after the child's birth. He is a registered member of the Cherokee Nation and is raising the child in Oklahoma.
Dusten Brown had earlier signed a legal document agreeing to put the girl up for adoption, but his attorneys say the father did not understand the extent of the waiver, and that the birth mother misrepresented the child's American Indian heritage to social service workers when the adoption was finalized.
At issue is whether Brown, as the onetime non-custodial father, can gain parental custody, after the non-Indian mother initiated an adoption outside the tribe.FULL STORY
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Who in Congress doesn't want to pass a bill that helps protect women against acts of violence? No one, of course.
But the Violence Against Women Act, first passed in 1994 and reauthorized previously without fanfare, hit a snag this time around.
The hiccup in the bill involved groups of vulnerable people: Native Americans, immigrants and those who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT.
That’s the reason there was no consensus over a law that primarily provides support for organizations that serve domestic violence victims, said Rep. Gwen Moore, D-Wisconsin, herself a rape victim.
"The violence Against Women Act has always been bipartisan, but this time, because of best practices from advocates, from people in law enforcement, they saw the need to expand this to communities of color, to Native Americans, to the LGBT community and young women who needed protection on campuses," Moore said.
The differences over provisions affecting native, immigrant and LGBT women led to separate bills in the House and Senate. No compromise was reached. Time ran out and the Violence Against Women Act was not reauthorized.
"It’s a shame that we’re at this point," Moore said. "Certainly we’re very concerned about whether or not we’re going to have these particular communities ignored."
The National Task Force to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women said it was deeply disappointed that a final bill could not be agreed upon.
"The U.S. House of Representatives continued to voice strong opposition to offering basic protections to certain vulnerable populations," the task force said.
What happened? FULL POST
By Moni Basu and Greg Botelho, CNN
Atlanta (CNN) – The Atlanta Braves are reportedly bringing back a controversial screaming Indian logo in their new design for batting practice caps, unveiled in a blog post on ESPN.
Writer Paul Lukas of Uni Watch, who broke the news of the new cap design, said he got a first look at the hat designs from an "industry source."
He gave a failing grade to the Braves logo featuring a Native American wearing a mohawk and a feather in his hair and belting out a tribal yell.
"Last year the Braves conspicuously avoided using their 'screaming Indian' logo as a sleeve patch on their retro alternate jersey - a welcome move for those of us who oppose the appropriation of Native American imagery in sports," Lukas wrote. "Unfortunately, it turns out that the logo hasn't been permanently mothballed. Disappointing. Grade: F."
Braves officials deferred comment to Major League Baseball, which told CNN that the new batting practice cap designs for several MLB clubs, including the Braves, were still in development and may never end up on the diamond.
"We will unveil the program when it is finalized," the MLB statement said. "We do not know where (ESPN) obtained the designs. We can not make them available to CNN because they are not finalized or approved." FULL POST
By Sarah Edwards, CNN
(CNN) – The maker of a Google app thinks it's fun to make yourself look Asian by changing the shape of your eyes and wearing a Fu Manchu mustache and rice paddy hat.
Another app - "Make Me Indian" - makes you a Native American with brown skin, war paint and a feather headband.
“This is just a fun app (that) lets you indulge you and your friends," says the description of the "Make Me Asian" app created by user KimberyDeiss and available on Google Play.
"You can for a few seconds to make (yourself) a Chinese, Japanese, Korean or any other Asians," the description says.
Not amusing or cute, say Asian-American organizations that launched a petition to get Google to remove both apps. FULL POST
By Moni Basu, CNN
(CNN) – Buried on page 45 of the 2010 Defense Appropriations Act, after pages on the maintenance and operation of the U.S. military, is an official apology to Native American people.
Mark Charles, a member of the Navajo Nation, stumbled onto the apology about a year ago after he heard GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney say that he would never apologize for America. That comment didn't sit well with Charles - nobody is perfect, he thought.
He wrote a blog post that cited several situations in which he believed it was prudent for America to say sorry. One of them was to native people.
A reader responded that such an apology had already been issued. Charles went online and found the 2010 Defense Act.
The United States, acting through Congress ... recognizes that there have been years of official depredations, ill-conceived policies, and the breaking of covenants by the federal government regarding Indian tribes; apologizes on behalf of the people of the United States to all native peoples for the many instances of violence, maltreatment, and neglect inflicted on native peoples by citizens of the United States ...
It went on to urge the president to acknowledge the wrongs.
Charles wondered why he had never heard President Barack Obama publicly issue this apology. And if he had never heard it, then most certainly native people who lived isolated lives on reservations had not either.
He set himself on a path to rectify that.
By Emanuella Grinberg, CNN
But a few high profile missteps surrounding the use of indigenous cultural imagery made bigger national headlines than any heritage month event.
First it was the release of No Doubt's Wild West-themed music video "Looking Hot," featuring teepees, fire dances and singer Gwen Stefani on horseback, a feather crowning her long blond braids. Then, supermodel Karlie Kloss walked the runway in a floor-length feather headdress, skimpy leopard-spotted bikini and turquoise jewelry at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show.
Both instances sparked allegations of "playing Indian" for profit, leading No Doubt and Victoria's Secret to publicly apologize. The gaffes also reignited debate over where to draw the line between cultural appropriation and appreciation and the extent to which non-Natives should represent Natives in mainstream media and pop culture.
The conversation is important, because acts of cultural appropriation are not simply isolated incidents of "hipsters in Navajo panties and pop stars in headdresses," said Sasha Houston Brown, a member of the Santee Sioux Nation of Nebraska. They are byproducts of "systemic racism" that perpetuate the idea that there's no such thing as contemporary Native culture.FULL STORY