Do Senators Daschle
and McCain use the R word?
January 28, 2002
What is a Nole?
In Tallahassee, Florida you see this word on bumper stickers, t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps and hanging on banners in the dormitories. You see it on signs in restaurant windows. It is usually preceded by the word Go.
A Nole is actually the name of the proud Seminole Nation cut in half. One might as well take the name of a great nation such as America and cut it in half. Go rica. Its the same thing. Of course, the student body, faculty and alumni of Florida State University believe they are honoring the Seminole people by butchering their name, doing the tomahawk chop, singing atrocious chants, painting their faces and sticking feathers in their hair. It is such an honor to be ridiculed and mimicked.
Why would the people of the Seminole Nation allow this bastardization of their tribal name? Do they refer to themselves as Noles?
I stopped by the library the other day to look up the word redskin. Most dated the word from 1699, listed it as a noun and concluded it referred to American Indians and was; usually taken to be offensive. I will refer to redskin as the R word.
The same dictionaries translated the word nigger as; a member of any dark-skinned race - usually taken to be offensive. This is now the infamous N word.
Usually taken to be offensive. Offensive; causing displeasure or resentment. Offense; the act of displeasing or affronting; the state of being insulted or morally outraged; a breach of moral or social code.
Now lets look at the R word. You see it on flags, caps, t-shirts, sweat shirts, bumper stickers, on banners hanging in restaurants and bars and Ive even seen it on paper weights.
What is the difference between the R word and the N word? None. But, you do not see the N word on any of the items mentioned above. Why not? Why is the R word not looked upon in the same light? After all, it is a word usually taken to be offensive. The R word has the very same meaning to American Indian as the N word does to the African American. Then what is the difference?
In the capitol of the United States, Washington, D. C., a city that above all others should be more sensitive to racial slurs, there is a football team that brings millions of dollars into the community, a team that is honored by its fanatics (fan is a derivation of fanatics), and a city where the R word is a part of the culture.
Washington, D. C. has a majority population of African Americans who despise the N word. Then why doesnt this racial minority majority have more sensitivity to the use of the R word?
Great leaders such as Tom Daschle (D-SD) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) spend most of their time in Washington. Daschle comes from a state, South Dakota , where the largest minority is the American Indian. McCain comes from a state with an extremely large Indian population. Do they cheer for the team that uses the R word as its mascot? They sure as heck do not speak out against its use.
The hypocrisy and the dual standards in America in believing that using the R word is alright while the use of the N word is offensive boggles the mind.
For our Nations leaders to sit on their hands while American Indians are demeaned on any given Sunday is the height of hypocrisy.
Heh, Heh! Oh, its perfectly ducky to use the word Redskin, but boy, dont ever get caught using the word Nigger.
What cowardice on the part of the editor of the Washington Post and on the part of the elected officials who are in Washington to serve their states and communities. How can they pretend the R word is not as offensive as the N word?
Why? Because the American Indian is viewed by leaders as powerful as the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, William Rehnquist, as unimportant. In the book The Brethren, Rehnquist referred to cases involving Indians as shit cases.
Shit cases? Now what in the heck does that do for the self-esteem and self-respect of the American Indians? I am also appalled at the television and radio sports announcers who let the offensive word Redskin roll off their tongue like honey. Would they be so glib as to use the offensive word Nigger? Not on their lives and not on their jobs!
In states like South Dakota and Arizona, where the Indian population is huge, the newspapers and radio and television station sports casters and writers have absolutely no shame in using the R word.
There is always an exception. One man, thats right, one man, a sports announcer for KOTA radio in Rapid City, S. D. never, never uses the R word. His name is Bob Laskowski. He looks upon the word as it should be looked at; offensive to American Indians. A large part of his listening audience is American Indian.
When I listen to Laskowski I realize there
is hope. Here is a man who understands an offensive word when he hears
it. My hope is that the rest of America will wake up to the same sensitivity
and understanding. In the meantime, I hope the people of the Seminole
Nation begin to look at the Noles as another N
(Tim Giago, an Oglala Lakota, is editor/publisher of Lakota Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or P.O. Box 3080 Rapid City, SD, 57709)
The "STAR - Students and Teachers Against
Racism" web site is the