Oakland A’s reliever Jerry Blevins was a Redskin. So was former NFL quarterback Rick Mirer, Falcons’ WR Marquess Wilson, Olympic decathlon champion Bob Mathias and former three-time NBA All-Stars Tom and Dick Van Arsdale. All attended high schools whose sports teams were called the Redskins.
It’s not as rare as one might think. As the battle rages to get Washington’s NFL team to change its nickname, many smaller, widely unnoticeable controversies are percolating throughout the U.S. While there are no college teams currently called the Redskins, there are 62 high schools in 22 states with that name, according to Capital News Service. That’s a lot. As one can see by the map above, strangely, there are none in Florida, only three in Texas, and very few, actually, in the south.
The greatest concentration of Redskins nicknames come in the quad-state area of Indiana, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania — by the looks of it, nearly half. We’re not sure why this became the nation’s Redskins Belt, but it is, and now the spotlight is turning toward those communities. Some are under fire to change the name … others live in peaceful non-conformity. But not for long, one must assume.
All must feel, at least a little bit, that they are part of the debate.
The Washington Redskins have pointed to this data in an attempt to strengthen their position: although they listed 70 schools with the nickname in a recent media release. That’s wrong, according to CNS, which actually called every school on the list and found that some had dropped the Redskins name, or had never used it in the first place. There are in fact 62. That’s down from 90 schools 25 years ago. According to CNS, 28 high schools in 18 states have trash-canned the Redskins name and mascot since 1988.
2011: Red Lodge High School, Montana (now the Rams).
2011: Wiscasset High School, Maine (Wolverines).
2008: Cumberland High School (Kentucky) consolidated with Evarts High School and Cawood High School to become the Harlan County High School Black Bears (one might say that’s “Justified”).
2004: Gridley High School (Illinois) merged with El Paso High School and are now the Titans.
2000: Frontier Regional School, Deerfield, MA (Red Hawks).
2000: Rickards High School, Tallahassee, FL (Raiders).
2000: Canajoharie High School, Canajoharie, NY (Cougars).
Of the 62 current holdouts, how many are being pressured to change?
Representatives at 26 schools told Capital News Service that there have been local efforts to change the mascot, while representatives at the other 36 said there have not.
A school board in upstate New York voted in March to retire the name Redskins at Cooperstown Central School at the end of this school year. In Washington state, Port Townsend High School is actively considering dropping the name. And in Michigan, the state Department of Civil Rights has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education that could eventually force six Michigan schools called the Redskins to change their names.
One school that still uses the nickname is Red Mesa High in Arizona, located on a Navajo reservation, and where 99.3 percent of its students are Native American. Tommie Yazzie, superintendent of the school district that oversees Red Mesa High School and a full-blooded Navajo, said he is more concerned with the use of Native American war chants and gestures during sporting events. Do we have your attention, Atlanta Braves and KC Chiefs?
“We don’t use those gestures and traditions. As Navajos we have respect for warfare. Warfare means taking a life. And when a young warrior goes out to battle, [the gestures and war chants] belong there,” Yazzie said. “When you come back into civilian life, you don’t take that back with you. You don’t use the same type of gestures and hollering and bring that back into a sporting event.”
Oh, and let’s not forget this important addition to the stats: the Mars Greenskins, from the TV show “Futurama”, which played in Major League Blemsball. That show has been canceled, which means so has the nickname.