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Old 11 January 2013, 06:22 AM
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Icon402 Redskins

Comment: Recent discussion of a possible name change for the Washington Redskins
led me to a story at the Christian Science monitor that offered differing
versions of where the term "redskin" originated. (story at

The version that surprised me:

"The National Congress [of American Indians] offers a different version of
the historic pedigree of the term Redskins. "The term 'Redskins' had its
origins in the commodification of Indian skins and body parts; these
'Redskins' were required as proof of Indian kill in order for bounty
hunters to receive payment," the NCIA brief says."
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Old 19 December 2013, 05:27 PM
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Icon102 The Real History of the Word Redskin. It's Not What You Think.

In 2005, the Indian language scholar Ives Goddard of the Smithsonian Institution published a remarkable and consequential study of redskin's early history. His findings shifted the dates for the word's first appearance in print by more than a century and shed an awkward light on the contemporary debate. Goddard found, in summary, that "the actual origin of the word is entirely benign."
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Old 19 December 2013, 11:36 PM
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Maybe the N word started out 'entirely benign' as well. It's good to know that it wasn't always derogatory or (as the article quotes a 1898 dictionary) "often contemptuous" and that its origin isn't in horrific massacres (that nevertheless actually happened) but that doesn't make it OK to use it.
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Old 22 June 2014, 07:57 PM
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Comment: I have heard several people talking about the origin of the term
"Redskins" in light of the new Patent Office ruling, contending it related
to bounties placed on Native Americans. I checked your site to see if that
was true but did not find anything. I looked into it and found this, but
would appreciate your insights and research:

Ives Goddard, Senior Linguist in the Department of Anthropology, National
Museum of Natural History at the Smithsonian Institution, examined the
claim that the word redskin “had its origins in the practice of presenting
bloody red skins and scalps as proof of Indian kill for bounty payments”
and says “. . . no supporting evidence for it has ever been cited.” He
points out that native Americans originated use of the term “red skins” to
describe themselves, saying “. . . this was originally and particularly a
Native American usage.”

In http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwor...lack-and-white,
Adrian Jawort, a member of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, cited Goddard’s
study and stated:

"Claiming 'scalps' automatically means 'red skins' is revisionist
history, to be blunt. It was the Native Americans who first used the term
'red' in order to differentiate between indigenous, white, and black
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Old 23 June 2014, 02:29 AM
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I never heard the scalp or bloody skin theory before. I always assume it was about a stereotype of skin color. Obviously, no one's actually red, but no one's actually black or white or yellow either.
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Old 23 June 2014, 02:42 AM
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It doesn't really matter whether it started out as something that wasn't racist or not- it clearly is now. The swastika didn't start out as a symbol of white supremacy and antisemitism.
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Old 24 June 2014, 02:38 AM
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Icon07 When Slang Becomes a Slur
The linguist who testified against the Redskins in their trademark proceedings explains why the team's name can't be separated from historical hatreds.
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