The Washington Redskins announced Monday that they will change their team name and logo after about 87 years of using it, in the wake of corporate and public pressure to ditch the moniker over racial connotations.
The Navajo Nation put out a statement on the retirement of the Redskins name.
“July 13, 2020 is now a historic day for all Indigenous peoples around the world as the NFL Washington-based team officially announced the retirement of the racist and disparaging “Redskins” team name and logo,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez wrote. “This change did not come about willingly by the team’s owners, but by the mounting pressure and advocacy of Indigenous peoples such as Amanda Blackhorse, and many other warriors who fought long and hard for this change.”
The statement continued: “We strongly encourage the NFL Washington organization to rename their team in such a way that truly honors and respects the First Americans of this country. Renaming the team “Code Talkers” to honor the Navajo Code Talkers, and other tribal nations who used their sacred language to help win World War II, would set the team on a path to restoring its reputation and correcting the historical misrepresentation of Indigenous peoples.”
I totally dig this. I never really had an outspoken opinion on the whole R-word thing, as I don't care about the team, but I mean come on... it was time to ditch the logo and name. It's totally different from the Blackhawks who are paying homage to a single dude (Black Hawk) who was a complete bad ass. The Red Skins were doing the opposite; just spitting in the face of anyone of Native American descent. Good riddance.
But the 'Skins have a chance to do something REALLY cool with their name. They have the pick of the litter. I have seen a few decent names floated out there, mostly the Red Wolves, but let's stick with the Native American theme here for a second. It doesn't get enough play, but the Navajo Nation played a crucial part in WWII and it's hardly ever talked about it. For a quick reference, there was a really shitty Nic Cage movie about it that came out in 2002:
The jist of it is this: technology had advanced so much in the Great War and WWII that the world had learned how to hack radio signals of the opposing side. This obviously gave the code breaking side an advantage on how to position against attacks or launch counter offensives. It got to the point where both the Japanese and the Americans would send fake signals in order to throw each other off their actual plans.
For instance, if Japan was going to attack Midway Island, there would be teams of American nerds breaking the signals to figure out how and when Japan would go about it. On the contrary, Japan would be doing the same thing. That was until the Navajo Nation got involved. Navajo warriors would speak in variations of their native tongue over radio to send battle plans, etc. and Japan thought it was some alien language which made it basically uncrackable. That gave the Americans and their allies a huge advantage because they would always be 1 step ahead of the Japanese in the Pacific because the Japanese had no idea wtf language they were speaking. Nope! It was just the native language of an an indigenous culture located in the desert of Arizona. Pretty fucking cool.
There is a GREAT shot we don't raise the American flag on Iwo Jima island if not for the Navajo code talkers, and if we don't win that island, we might not win the Pacific at all. Here's a quick primer on it for those who are interested:
I don't know much more than that about the Code Talkers. What I do know is that this subplot of WWII history needs a lot more play, and the R-words changing their name to something along these lines could give it at least some of the the play that it deserves. Now I'm not advocating for the name "Code Talkers" per se (just doesn't flow too well), but I am saying they are absolutely onto something here. Windtalkers? I don't know. But I do think they have a chance to do something REALLY cool while also paying homage to a completely bad ass group of people that were vital in winning the war in the Pacific.