To: Terry Grier, HISD Superintendent
HISD Superintendent: Terry Grier
Keep Lamar's "Redskin" mascot.
Why is this important?
Recently, State Senator Rodney Ellis wrote a letter to HISD Superintendent Terry Grier asking him to change the mascot. Ellis said he made the request after meeting with local Native American leaders who are concerned about the name as it has been said to be offensive toward Native Americans. But where did the word "redskin" actually come from?
According to Smithsonian historian Ives Goddard, early historical records indicate that the first use of the word "redskin" came in 1769, in negotiations between the Piankashaws and Col. John Wilkins, and was used as a self-identifier. Throughout the 1800s, the word was frequently used by Native Americans as they negotiated with the French and later the Americans.
"The spurious occurrence of redskin with a date of 1699 has masked the true history of the adoption of this word into English, which has been further obscured by the omission from the standard dictionaries of citations from James Fenimore Cooper, the most important agent of its diffusion. The word redskin reflects a genuine Native American idiom that was used in several languages, where it grew out of an earlier established and more widespread use of “red” and “white” as racial labels. This terminology was developed by Native Americans to label categories of the new ethnic and political reality they confronted with the coming of the Europeans." - "I AM A REDSKIN": The Adoption of a Native American Expression (Pg. 16)
Yes, we must consider the facts in such a matter, from both sides. But we must also be aware that the "Redskin" did not begin as a pejorative term in the Native American vernacular. In addition, we must consider the possibility that the name itself, along with its connotation, has been misconstrued and taken out of context. To conclude, many thousands of loyal Lamar Alumni have proudly supported and cheered our Redskins with pride, honor, commitment, and passion since the student body picked the mascot in 1937. The name has never been identified as having a negative impact upon the students of Lamar High School either socially, culturally, or academically. Change the name, Superintendent Terry Grier, and you change what we as students and alumni represent.
As we Lamar students and alumni say, "Once a Redskin, always a Redskin."
You can find more information on this controversial topic in these sources below:
3) “I AM A RED-SKIN”: The Adoption of a Native American Expression (1769–1826): http://anthropology.si.edu/goddard/redskin.pdf