Study: Redskins’ name more offensive than previously reported

A general view of the Washington Redskins logo on a moveable panel before the game between Washington and the Detroit Lions at FedEx Field on Nov. 24, 2019 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)

A new study says the Washington Redskins’ name is deemed offensive by nearly half of the more than 1,000 Native Americans polled, a far departure from previous studies that said an overwhelming majority of Native Americans are indifferent toward the moniker.

The study from the University of California, Berkeley, which is said to be the largest-scale investigation to date into the relationship between Native American identity and attitudes toward Native mascots, interviewed more than 1,000 self-identified Native Americans across 148 tribes in all 50 states.

The study revealed 49% of the participants either agreed or strongly agreed that the term “redskins” is offensive, while 38% were not bothered by it. The remaining 13% were undecided or indifferent.

However, that number rose to 67% among participants said to be heavily involved in native or tribal cultures, 60% among young people and 52% of people with tribal affiliations.

The study went beyond the Washington team. Of those polled, 57% who strongly identify as Native American and 67% of those frequently engaged in tribal cultural practices were deeply insulted by caricatures of Native American culture in general, which includes the “tomahawk chop” performed by teams such as the Atlanta Braves and the recent Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs.

These findings run counter to previous polls published by The Washington Post in recent years. A 2019 survey found that 68% of Native Americans were not offended by the name, and in 2016, that number was pegged at 90%.

The full findings of the study will be published later this month in the academic journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Take a more in-depth look at available numbers here.

Rob Woodfork

Rob Woodfork is WTOP's Senior Sports Content Producer, which includes duties as producer and host of the DC Sports Huddle, nightside sports anchor and sports columnist on

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