No Honor

Shan Goshorn
14” X 15.5” X 20”
Sports pennant, Arches watercolor paper printed with archival inks, acrylic paint

Heated controversy surrounds the name of the Washington professional football team. The term Redskin is historically connected to a bounty placed on Native bodies and scalps; that is, people were paid money for bringing dead Indians to the trading post (read: attempted genocide). For years, human rights activists have decried the use of such a racial slur to represent anything, especially a team located in the nation’s capitol.

This single-weave Cherokee style basket combines a Redskin pennant with paper splints first printed with the following two definitions from The American Heritage Dictionary, to illustrate why this name is offensive and inappropriate:
Redskin (rĕd skĭn)′ n. Offensive slang. Used as a disparaging term for a Native American
Nigger (nĭg ər) n. Offensive slang. Used as a disparaging term for a black person

Why is one term acceptable and the other not?

The title is printed all in caps, in reference to a 2013 quote by Redskin team owner, Dan Snyder, when asked if he would consider changing the name if the team loses an ongoing federal trademark lawsuit. His response: “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

Fans say they are honoring Native Americans. This is no honor.

Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of the American Indian Museum Collection