Tag Archives: Washington

The Origin of Redskin ~ a repost


March 26, 2006

Posted by Bill Poser

The controversy over the Washington Redskins trademark has attracted considerable attention, here and elsewhere. We have had quite a few previous posts about this. It began with a petition by seven American Indian activists led by Suzan Harjo in 1992 to the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board of the US Department of Commerce requesting cancellation of the trademark on the grounds that the word redskin

was and is a pejorative, derogatory, denigrating, offensive, scandalous, contemptuous, disreputable, disparaging and racist designation for a Native American person

In 1998 the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board decided in favor of the petitioners and cancelled the trademark. Pro Football, Inc. appealed to the United States District Court, which in 2003 overturned the decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board and reinstated the trademark. It gave several grounds for its decision:

  • that there was an absence of evidence that the term redskin is disparaging in the particular context of the name of the sports team;
  • that the TTB did not sufficiently articulate its inferences and explain how it decided between competing pieces of evidence. In particular, the District Court was critical of the fact that the TTB ruled on the basis “of the entirety of the evidence” but did not review that evidence in any detail and made few findings of fact;
  • that the petitioners’ claim was barred by the doctrine of laches, which provides that a right or claim should not be enforced if the long delay in asserting it puts the respondent at an unreasonable disadvantage. In this case, the Court held that opposition to the mark should have been asserted when the mark was issued in 1967 or shortly thereafter and that the delay of twenty-five years was unreasonable.

The case was appealed to the Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia Circuit. In its 2005 decision, the Court of Appeal held that the doctrine of laches did not in principle bar the suit of one of the petitioners, Mateo Romero, the youngest, because he was only one year old in 1967 when the trademark was registered. (In US federal law, the clock for laches starts when the petitioner reaches the age of 18.) It therefore returned the case to the District Court for further consideration of whether laches should bar the suit on the part of Mateo Romero.¹ The Court of Appeal did not address the question of whether there was sufficient evidence that redskin is disparaging in the context of the name of the sports team because there is no need to decide that question if the suit is barred by laches.²

Although the main topic I want to discuss is a linguistic one, I’ve reviewed the legal history because I think that much of the discussion of the case has been rather misleading. To a large extent the decisions of the courts have focussed on the “technicality” of laches, not on the question of whether redskin is disparaging. The District Court did not simply ignore overwhelming evidence as some commentators suggest. Indeed, even in its holdings on the disparagement issue, the District Court’s criticisms of the TTB were that it did not sufficiently address the question of whether redskin is disparaging in the context of the name and that the TTB did not make sufficient findings of fact. And in overturning the District Court, the Court of Appeal made no judgment whatever as to whether redskin is disparaging. Its decision dealt exclusively with laches. In short, the decisions of the courts have been concerned largely with technical questions, not with the linguistic issues.

I think that it is well established that redskin is taken by most people today to be disparaging. What is more interesting is whether it has always been so, as Harjo et al., as well as various others, claim. One interesting piece of evidence is the origin of the name Washington Redskins. In 1933, George Preston Marshall, the owner of the team, which was then located in Boston, renamed it the Boston Redskins in honor of the head coach, William “Lone Star” Dietz, an American Indian.³ When the team moved to Washington in 1937 it was renamed the Washington Redskins. George Marshall clearly did not consider the name disparaging.

The term redskin of course goes much farther back than 1933. The details of this history have recently been explored by Ives Goddard of the Smithsonian Institution, in a paper conveniently available on-line. Some of the evidence is available in greater detail on Goddard’s web site. You can read speeches by the Meskwaki chief Black Thunder and the Omaha chief Big Elk in which the expression redskin is used, and early nineteenth century examples of the Meskwaki usage of terms meaning redskin and whiteskin.

I won’t review the evidence in detail because Goddard’s paper is short enough and accessible enough that if you are interested you should read it yourself. I’ll just summarize it. Goddard shows that the term redskin is a translation from native American languages of a term used by native Americans for themselves. Harjo’s claim that it “had its origins in the practice of presenting bloody red skins and scalps as proof of Indian kill for bounty payments” is unsupported by any evidence.⁴ The term entered popular usage via the novels of James Fenimore Cooper. In the early- to mid-nineteenth century the term was neutral, not pejorative, and indeed was often used in contexts in which whites spoke of Indians in positive terms. Goddard concludes:

Cooper’s use of redskin as a Native American in-group term was entirely authentic, reflecting both the accurate perception of the Indian self-image and the evolving respect among whites for the Indians’ distinct cultural perspective, whatever its prospects. The descent of this word into obloquy is a phenomenon of more recent times.

The response to Goddard’s paper is disappointing. Other than reiterating the unsubstantiated and implausible theory that the term owes its origin to scalping, Harjo and others have merely waved their hands, asserting that as Indians they know differently without presenting any evidence whatsoever. A typical example is found in this Native Village article, which quotes Harjo as follows:

I’m very familiar with white men who uphold the judicious speech of white men. Europeans were not using high-minded language. [To them] we were only human when it came to territory, land cessions and whose side you were on.

The only point here that even resembles an argument is the bald assertion that Europeans never spoke of Indians other than disparagingly. This is not true. Evidence to the contrary is explicitly cited by Goddard. What is more disturbing is that Harjo’s primary response to Goddard is ad hominem: that as a white man what he says is not credible. Whether he is white, red, or green is of course utterly irrelevant, as thinking people have known since at least the Middle Ages. Goddard presents his evidence in detail, with citations to the original sources. You can evaluate it yourself, and you need not rely on his statements of fact but can, if you are willing to devote some time and effort, check out the sources yourself. Furthermore, without the slightest evidence Harjo imputes to Goddard not merely bias but racism, a charge which, based, as her own words reveal, entirely on racial stereotyping, merely reflects back on herself.

So, there you have it. On the one hand an utterly unsubstantiated and implausible theory advocated by Suzan Harjo, who exhibits no knowledge of the history of English usage of redskin, of American Indian languages, or of the early history of relations between Indians and Europeans. On the other hand a detailed account with numerous explicit citations to original documents by Ives Goddard, who has dedicated his entire life to the study of American Indian languages and the documentation thereof. It is always possible that some new evidence will be brought to bear, but for the present I don’t think that there can be any ambiguity as to which is the more credible account.

Notes:

¹ The District Court held that Romero’s suit was not barred by laches simply as a matter of the length of time that had elapsed since the cancellation petition was filed only seven years from the date of his majority, but might nonetheless be barred by laches if the delay of seven years put Pro Football at an unreasonable disadvantage. For this reason it is important to understand that laches is distinct from the doctrine of statute of limitations. A suit is barred by the statute of limitations if there is legislation setting such a time limit. In contrast, laches is an equitable doctrine and is based on the principle that too long a delay is unfair to the respondent, not on any particular time limit.

² Similarly, the District Court never addressed Pro Football’s arguments that section 2(a) of the Lanham act, under which Harjo et al. sued, is an unconstitutional violation of the First Amendment right of free speech and the Fifth Amendment right of due process because it overturned the TTB’s decision on other, non-constitutional, grounds.

³ Harjo et al. question this story of the origin of the name, but as the Circuit Court noted (p. 13, footnote 6), they provide no evidence whatever to the contrary and give no convincing reason to disbelieve the primary source, a newspaper article presenting the account by Marshall’s grand-daughter. Some authors have also claimed that Dietz was not an American Indian. The articles cited, however, do not cite their sources, so it is difficult to evaluate their claims. It is, however, undisputed that Dietz presented himself as an American Indian and that George Marshall publicly presented him as one. George Marshall surely thought that Dietz was an American Indian, which is really what counts here.

⁴ A point that has not, as far as I know, been mentioned in this context is that scalps or other body parts presented as evidence of kills would not, in general, have been red. As I can attest from personal experience with the processing of animals killed by hunters, mammalian blood is bright red when fresh but darkens quickly as it oxidizes. When dried it retains a dark red tinge if thin but in any thickness is black. Under most circumstances bounty hunters did not present their trophies for payment until days or weeks after the kill, by which time the blood would have been more black than red. The suggestion that such trophies would give a primary impression of red is due either to a false idea that they would usually have been presented when fresh or to a lack of familiarity with dried blood. A further difficulty with Harjo’s hypothesis is that, although whites did indeed collect Indian trophies as evidence of kills, the popular image of scalping was and is that it was an activity engaged in primarily by Indians who mutilated the corpses of their white victims. There was therefore no reason to associate bloody trophies, red or not, with Indians. If anything, the association would have been with the white victims of scalping.

Posted by Bill Poser at March 26, 2006 06:42 PM

Mount St. Helens: The eruption killed 57 people and caused millions of dollars in damages.


Mount St. Helens steams. Photo by Charlie Crisafulli.Mt. St. Helens Streaming Video

Forty years after the mountain’s eruption, officials struggle to balance research and risk.

by Eric Wagner

The Pumice Plain in southwest Washington’s Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is one of the most closely studied patches of land in the world. Named for the type of volcanic rock that dominates it, it formed during the mountain’s 1980 eruption. Since then, ecologists have scrutinized it, surveying birds, mammals and plants, and in general cataloging the return of life to this unique and fragile landscape.

Now, the depth of that attention is threatened, but not due to the stirrings of the most active volcano in the Pacific Northwest. The problem is a large lake two miles north of the mountain: Spirit Lake. Or, more specifically, the Spirit Lake tunnel, an artificial outlet built out of necessity and completed in 1985.

After nearly four decades, the tunnel is in need of an upgrade. At issue is the road the Forest Service plans to build across the Pumice Plain despite the scientific plots dotting the plain’s expanse. In this, Spirit Lake and its tunnel have become the de facto headwaters of a struggle over how best to manage research and risk on a mountain famous for its destructive capabilities.

THE ENTANGLEMENT OF THE LAND, the lake and the tunnel began 40 years ago, when Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18, 1980. At 8:32 a.m., a strong earthquake caused the mountain’s summit and north flank to collapse in one of the largest landslides in recorded history. Some of the debris slammed into Spirit Lake, but most of it rumbled 14 miles down the North Fork Toutle River Valley. Huge mudflows rushed down the Toutle and Cowlitz rivers, destroying hundreds of bridges, homes and buildings. 

The eruption killed 57 people and caused millions of dollars in damages. Mount St. Helens shed more than 1,300 feet of elevation, hundreds of square miles of forest were buried or flattened, and Spirit Lake was left a steaming black broth full of logs, dead animals, pumice and ash. Its surface area nearly doubled to about 2,200 acres, and its sole outlet, to the North Fork Toutle River, was buried under up to 600 feet of debris.

Having no outlet, and with rain and snowmelt still flowing in, Spirit Lake began to rise. The situation was dangerous: If the basin filled, the lake could overtop the debris field and radically destabilize it, unleashing another devastating mudflow that would send millions of tons of sediment toward the towns of Toutle, Castle Rock and Longview, Washington

For the complete article …

hcn.org/issues/52.5/north-scientific-research-the-threat-below-mount-st-helen

images: fs.fed.us/outernet/pnw/mtsthelens

In the Library … Lillian Walker , by John C. Hughes


OLYMPIA…Bremerton civil rights heroine Lillian Walker

The new book is called “Lillian Walker, Washington Civil Rights Pioneer,” written by John C. Hughes, an author and interviewer with The Legacy Project, an oral history program established by the Office of Secretary of State in 2008. The book is published by the Washington State Heritage Center and printed by Gorham Printing.Joyce.

“The YWCA’s goal is to make Mrs. Walker’s inspirational story available to all school and public libraries in the nation as an example of a young person who not only had the courage to stand up for what is right, but also to continue to stay involved in her community to make it better over a 70-year time period,” Jackson said.

Click here http://www.sos.wa.gov/legacyproject/oralhistories/lillianwalker/ to read The Legacy Project’s oral history on Lillian Walker based on sit-down interviews, as well as photos and other materials.

Lillian Walker helped found the Bremerton branch of the NAACP in 1943 and went on to serve as state NAACP secretary. She was conducting sit-ins and filing civil rights lawsuits when Martin Luther King was in junior high school.

Mrs. Walker and her late husband, James, arrived in the Navy Yard city of Bremerton in 1941 together with thousands of other AfricanAmerican wartime workers who thought they had left racism behind in the South and industrialized cities of Midwest and East. But many Kitsap County businesses, including cafes, taverns, drug stores and barber shops, displayed signs saying, “We Cater to White Trade Only.” In a landmark case, the Walkers took a soda fountain owner to court and won.

Mrs. Walker is a charter member of the YWCA of Kitsap County, former chairman of the Kitsap County Regional Library Board, a 69-year member of Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, and a founder and former president of Church Women United in Bremerton.

To learn more about The Legacy Project, go to its web site at http://www.sos.wa.gov/heritage/LegacyProject/default.aspx.

Lawrence Guyot : a Civil Rights Leader, in memory of


By The Associated Press
WASHINGTON November 25, 2012 (AP)

Lawrence Guyot, a civil rights leader who survived jailhouse beatings in the Deep South in the 1960s and went on to encourage generations to get involved, has died. He was 73.

Guyot had a history of heart problems and suffered from diabetes, and died at home in Mount Rainier, Md., his daughter Julie Guyot-Diangone said late Saturday. She said he died sometime Thursday night; other media reported he passed away Friday.

A Mississippi native, Guyot (pronounced GHEE-ott) worked for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and served as director of the 1964 Freedom Summer Project, which brought thousands of young people to the state to register blacks to vote despite a history of violence and intimidation by authorities. He also chaired the Mississippi Freedom Democratic Party, which sought to have blacks included among the state’s delegates to the 1964 Democratic National Convention. The bid was rejected, but another civil rights activist, Fannie Lou Hamer, addressed the convention during a nationally televised appearance.

Guyot was severely beaten several times, including at the notorious Mississippi State Penitentiary known as Parchman Farm. He continued to speak on voting rights until his death, including encouraging people to cast ballots for President Barack Obama.

Lawrence Guyot.JPEG
AP
FILE – Lawrence Guyot, a Student Nonviolent… View Full Caption
FILE – Lawrence Guyot, a Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee member in Mississippi during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s recalls his work in Hattiesburg and the women who assisted in the struggles, in this Oct. 22, 2010 file photo taken in Hattiesburg, Miss.His daughter Julie Guyot-Diangone said late Saturday Nov. 24, 2012 he died late Thursday or early Friday outside Washington, D.C. at the age of 73. Guyot, a civil rights leader who survived jailhouse beatings in the Deep South in the 1960s and went on to encourage generations to get involved in various causes, had a history of heart problems and suffered from diabetes. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis) Close

“He was a civil rights field worker right up to the end,” Guyot-Diangone said.

Guyot participated in the 40th anniversary of the Freedom Summer Project to make sure a new generation could learn about the civil rights movement.

“There is nothing like having risked your life with people over something immensely important to you,” he told The Clarion-Ledger in 2004. “As Churchill said, there’s nothing more exhilarating than to have been shot at — and missed.”

His daughter said she recently saw him on a bus encouraging people to register to vote and asking about their political views. She said he was an early backer of gay marriage, noting that when he married a white woman, interracial marriage was illegal in some states. He met his wife Monica while they both worked for racial equality.

“He followed justice,” his daughter said. “He followed what was consistent with his values, not what was fashionable. He just pushed people along with him.”

Susan Glisson, executive director of the William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation at the University of Mississippi, called Guyot “a towering figure, a real warrior for freedom and justice.”

“He loved to mentor young people. That’s how I met him,” she said.

When she attended Ole Miss, students reached out to civil rights activists and Guyot responded.

“He was very opinionated,” she said. “But always — he always backed up his opinions with detailed facts. He always pushed you to think more deeply and to be more strategic. It could be long days of debate about the way forward. But once the path was set, there was nobody more committed to the path.”

Glisson said Guyot’s efforts helped lay the groundwork for the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

“Mississippi has more black elected officials than any other state in the country, and that’s a direct tribute to his work,” she said

WASHINGTON November 25, 2012 (AP)

Guyot was born in Pass Christian, Miss., on July 17, 1939. He became active in civil rights while attending Tougaloo College in Mississippi, and graduated in 1963. Guyot received a law degree in 1971 from Rutgers University, and then moved to Washington, where he worked to elect fellow Mississippian and civil rights activist Marion Barry as mayor in 1978.

“When he came to Washington, he continued his revolutionary zeal,” Barry told The Washington Post on Friday. “He was always busy working for the people.”

Lawrence Guyot.JPEG
AP
FILE – Lawrence Guyot, 23, of Greenwood,… View Full Caption
FILE – Lawrence Guyot, 23, of Greenwood, Miss., removed his shirt in Jackson, Miss., to show newsmen where he says Greenwood and Winona police beat him with leather slapsticks, in this June 14, 1963 file photo. His daughter Julie Guyot-Diangone said late Saturday Nov. 24, 2012 he died late Thursday or early Friday outside Washington, D.C. at the age of 73. Guyot, a civil rights leader who survived jailhouse beatings in the Deep South in the 1960s and went on to encourage generations to get involved in various causes, had a history of heart problems and suffered from diabetes. (AP Photo/Jim Bourdier, File) Close

Guyot worked for the District of Columbia government in various capacities and as a neighborhood advisory commissioner.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton told The Post in 2007 that she first met Guyot within days of his beating at a jail in Winona, Miss. “Because of Larry Guyot, I understood what it meant to live with terror and to walk straight into it,” she told the newspaper. On Friday, she called Guyot “an unsung hero” of the civil rights movement.

“Very few Mississippians were willing to risk their lives at that time,” she said. “But Guyot did.”

In recent months, his daughter said he was concerned about what he said were Republican efforts to limit access to the polls. As his health was failing, he voted early because he wanted to make sure his vote was counted, he told the AFRO newspaper.

Recycling ::: 5 Million Tons ::: Holidays


In 2009 it was reported that the amount above was the amount of trash produced by Americans between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.  That is 25 percent more than we generate in a typical five or six-week period during the rest of the year … Consider what the numbers are today

**Reuse packaging material, some UPS stores accept clean peanuts for reuse

**Find eco-friendly places to recycle your Christmas Tree

**Use less envelopes.. more ecards or postcards for the Holidays

**Ecyclewashington.org … Washington State and is free for residents & small businesses. They will take 3 items per day…computers, tv, monitors

Do Something to Help Heal our Environment !

Be a Seed for Change