Navajo Nation offers new name for Redskins

It’s been nearly a week since we learned that Dan Snyder was officially dropping the name of the Washington Redskins for a moniker to be named later. The original choice for a replacement was rumored to be the Washington Warriors, but that one seems to be tied up in a trademark dispute at the moment. But did anyone expect this circus of political correctness to go through as a seamless transition?

As Ed Morrissey suggested in the article linked above, there have already been a couple of other serviceable alternatives offered. One of them was the Washington Redtails in homage to the Tuskegee Airmen. Other choices, such as the Washington Swamp Rats or the Washington Graft would probably be far more amusing to politically oriented audiences, but I somehow doubt Snyder would appreciate the humor very much.

Now, however, another candidate has been put forward, this time by the Navajo Nation. Not for nothing, but if you’re really trying to make amends to the aggrieved people in question, you could probably do worse than giving them a fair hearing. So what’s their candidate? Let’s all get ready to cheer for the… Washington Code Talkers. (NY Post)

The Navajo Nation put out a statement on the retirement of the Redskins name.

“July 13, 2020 is now a historic day for all Indigenous peoples around the world as the NFL Washington-based team officially announced the retirement of the racist and disparaging “Redskins” team name and logo,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez wrote…

The statement continued: “We strongly encourage the NFL Washington organization to rename their team in such a way that truly honors and respects the First Americans of this country. Renaming the team “Code Talkers” to honor the Navajo Code Talkers, and other tribal nations who used their sacred language to help win World War II, would set the team on a path to restoring its reputation and correcting the historical misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples.”

To be fair, if you’re a history buff, particularly one who focuses on the modern history of Indigenous Peoples, you probably already know about the code talkers. During World War Two, the intelligence battle against the Nazis was a life-and-death matter that evolved on a daily basis. Trying to come up with codes allowing us to communicate with our own forces without the enemy stealing the information was an endless battle. Similarly, trying to crack their codes and figure out their plans in advance was seen as critical to the war effort. The problem is that nearly any code generated by men can be figured out by equally clever men. But when we started employing Native Americans to transmit and decode data in their native languages, the Germans had no clue how to figure out that riddle.

But even recognizing that incredible contribution to the war effort, is “Code Talkers” the sort of name that brings the crowd to their feet and into the fighting spirit? I’m trying to picture some attractive cheerleaders dancing on the sidelines, yelling “Goooooooo Code Talkers!” Yeah, I’m really not feeling it.

But perhaps that’s only because it’s new and we haven’t had time to get used to the idea. After all, not every team name has to sound like some sort of fearsome warrior or ferocious beast. Miami has had the Dolphins for as long as I can remember. And who’s really afraid of a dolphin? (Unless you run into one of the seriously rapey ones.) The same goes for the Cardinals. And what about the Cleveland Browns? Nobody is afraid of the color brown.

Upon further reflection, I think the other thing that’s acoustically offputting about Code Talkers is that they would be the only team in the league with a name that involves two words. Every other team name is a single word. It just sounds wrong, if that makes any sense. With respect to the Navajo Nation, I think this could use another pass. Either Warriors or Generals or something along those lines would probably be better. Then again, I root for the Jets, who haven’t been to the Super Bowl since 1969. What do I know?

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Duane Patterson 10:00 PM | July 11, 2024