Ojibway Man on Warpath Over Team Named Redskins

Image of Nepean Redskins logo Ian Campeau, an Ojibway of the Nipissing First Nation, hasn't slapped on war-paint or started wielding a tomahawk just yet, but he has been quite vocal in expressing his moral indignation towards the Nepean Redskins for using, what he believes, is an "extremely derogatory" name. According to Campeau, the use of the word Redskin is "the same as calling a black man the N-word".

Campeau's campaign began last year when he first became aware of the team's moniker. He initially expressed his concerns by joining the club's Facebook group and "challenging them about it". The Club's apparent silence led Campeau to step-up his campaign taking his anti-Redskin message directly to the Club's corporate sponsors: Gabriel Pizza, Baizana Insurance and the Bank of Nova Scotia. According to Campeau, Scotiabank pulled its funding to the Club however, according to local media sources, "Nepean Scotiabank branch manager Mary Voteary said she couldn't comment to confirm whether funding was pulled".

The Nepean Redskins, first established in 1978, is a local community football club which fosters "health, discipline and sportsmanship" through its promotion of the sport of football to local youths. As a member of the National Amateur Football Association, the club currently fields teams in five levels of play. When questioned by local media on the matter, Redskins Vice-President Barry Helps offered no comment.

Randal Moore, host of the morning segment One Minute Moore on Ottawa's CHEZ 106, weighed into the fray recently when he called Campeau's allegation that the team has a racist name "a ludicrous assertion" making no qualms about his position. Councillor Jan Harder, who represents the ward in which the Nepean Redskins are based, did what most politicians do best when the proverbial buffalo-bagels hit the fan... she buried her head in the sand indicating that she had "no intention of getting involved". Joanne Chanello, columnist for the Ottawa Citizen, countered with the position that the name is, indeed, racist. "There's just no other way to consider the term redskin" Chanello writes, asserting that "virtually every English-language dictionary defines the term as offensive or derogatory".

When I hear the word Redskin used as a pronoun, as in "He used to be a Cowboy, but now he's a Redskin", I envision a formidable football opponent, not a member of any particular racial group. But its usage, in that context, has a far different connotation than in a 1940's black & white cowboys and Indians film wherein some slack-jawed yokel is participating in the slaughter of "heathen savages" to collect the bounty on "redskins". Those able to follow the bouncing ball will notice I used the term "cowboys and Indians" in reference to racial groups. Had I used the expression "Cowboys and Redskins" you'd have known I was referring to football. Coincidentally, the Cowboys and Redskins go head to head twice this year: the first on November 22nd and again, closing out the season, on December 30th. As I'm a long-standing diehard blue-collar Browns fan, I have little to look forward to this season except, perhaps, to next year's draft.

Switching gears slightly... out of genuine curiosity, if you were to give young children a box of crayons and a colouring book depicting first-nations people, what colour do you suppose they'd colour them? My guess is red... just as they'd likely colour Negros brown or black, caucasians yellow and Smurfs blue. I spent a fair amount of time over the course of a seven year period working in West Africa where members of the Hausa tribe refer to caucasians as "baturi". Baturi, incidentally, literally translates to "yellow-skinned". I lost no sleep over this term of endearment.

Rather than preach to the unwashed masses, perhaps my current missive is best directed toward Mr. Campeau himself who, while only considering the pejorative, appears so deeply offended by the use of the word Redskin:

>Dear Mr. Campeau,

You asked in a recent media interview if it was acceptable to call someone with black skin a blackskin. The answer is 'Yes, I would call someone with black skin a Blackskin; but only if they actually played for the Bytown Blackskins. I'd also call someone with white or red skin a Blackskin if they happend to play for a team named the Blackskins. And I wouldn't give a rat's arse what racial or ethnic group they might actually be a member of. When you play the race card, you'd better be prepared to bring all your gambling chips to the table.'

I couldn't help but notice that you've adopted the stage name DeeJay NDN. I can only presume that your use of NDN is a self-referential abbreviation directed towaords your native status. I've always been under the impression that First Nations people are called Indians because the misguided white fuckwits who first landed thought they'd reached India. Hence, your ancestors were incorrectly dubbed "Indians". News flash Ian... you're not an Indian. I also couldn't help but notice that you're part of a musical ensemble named A Tribe Called Red. Given your views on racist language, I can appreciate why you might have avoided the name Redmen Dirge.

Justice Alfred Monnin, who would eventually be appointed to the Manitoba Court of Appeal, was harshly criticized in 1982 for disparaging courtroom remarks he made with respect to First Nations peoples appearing in his court. The Crown Attorney, prosecuting a criminal case, asked that the entire testimony of a witness be tossed out since, in the eyes of the Crown, the witness in question appeared to be intoxicated. Judge Monnin, overruling the Crown's objection, remarked that if he had to exclude the testimony of every "drunken Indian" appearing before his court that he'd have very little left to base a decision upon. Most people would agree that Justice Monnin's comments were inappropriate. Few critics, however, would bother to consider if Judge Monnin's commentary was, in fact, based on an observed truth. What does it reveal about substance abuse, the native population and their involvement with the Canadian criminal justice system if, as Judge Monnin suggested, the vast majority of the cases before him involving First Nations peoples also involved alcohol? So what do you think Ian? Is Justice Monnin a racist bigot asshole? I'm betting Monnin wouldn't have an issue with a team named the Nepean Redskins. But I'll also bet you a pound of pemmican that he wouldn't go so far as to endorse a team named the Flin Flon Drunken Indians even if you do think him to be a racist.

If you've been following the news lately Ian, you're likely quite aware that incidents of gasoline sniffing have, once again, become a problem in the northern Labrador town of Sheshatshiu. I'll bet you a buffalo on bannock sandwich that if the local youths had more recreational and sporting opportunities like, say, for instance... [brief pause while I raise an eyebrow here] ... a youth football league, that sniffing gasoline might be less prevalent. Since you'd obviously have a problem with the name Redskins, do you think a team named the Gas Huffers would be any less racist?

Here's one final thought for your consideration Ian. There was a time when the word "queer", when specifically directed towards gays and lesbians, was (like redskin) only used in the pejorative sense. It was perfectly acceptable to say "Ever since the Harley accident, Stomper's had a rather queer walk". Conversely, anyone who actually blurted out "Vincent doesn't like girls 'cause he's queer" probably wouldn't support gay marriage. You should likely take a look at some of the recent (and by recent I mean in the past two decades) academic post-structuralist work in the area of "queer theory". You might actually learn that the racial connotations that YOU are associating with the word "redskin" have been socially constructed and, ironically, you have unwittingly become an agent for the very racist social construction that you so vehemently oppose."

Go Redskins!

Submitted by "Big Banana" Bob Loblaw, 18 October 2012