The fans poured into the bleachers on a Friday night, erupting in “Let’s go, Redskins!” chants that echoed across a new field of artificial turf, glowing green against a vast dun-colored landscape.
Inside the Red Mesa High School locker room, Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” blared on the stereo as players hurried to strap on their helmets and gather for a pregame prayer and pep talk.
“This is your time, right?” the team’s assistant coach demanded.
“Yes, sir!” the players shouted. “Redskins on three! Redskins on three! One, two, three, Redskins!”
The scene at this tiny, remote high school was as boisterous as it was remarkable: Nearly everyone on the field and in the bleachers belongs to the Navajo Nation. Most of the people in Red Mesa not only reject claims that their team’s nickname is a slur, they have emerged as a potent symbol in the heated debate over the name of the more widely known Redskins — Washington’s NFL team. More than half the school’s 220 students eagerly accepted free tickets from the team for an Oct. 12 game near Phoenix, where they confronted Native American protesters who were there to condemn Washington’s moniker.
None of that mattered to the Red Mesa Redskins as they marched onto the field for their game against the Lobos of Many Farms High School. It was homecoming, and the players knew they needed to keep winning if they wanted to make their first appearance in the state playoffs in five years.
Red Mesa students, parents and alumni stamped the bleachers, clutching signs that read “Fear the Spear” and “Redskin Nation.”
Sitting in the front row, Superintendent Tommie Yazzie basked in the crowd’s festive mood and in the sight of the newly built football field, which cost nearly $400,000 in federal aid at a school that struggles to pay for computers and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.
“This is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to change the name,” he said with a smile, trying to make his voice heard over the cheers. “I don’t find it derogatory. It’s a source of pride.”
There's more, including statements from someone who clearly thinks she knows better than anyone whether or not they ought to be offended.
The piece gives the best evidence I've seen yet that this is all made up political garbage.