Dear readers, last week I had the privilege to publish my third academic book review on the H-Florida forum of H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online. This review is on Redskins: Insult and Brand, a brand new work by Professor of Ethnic Studies at Washington State University, C. Richard King. As you can probably guess, Redskins is a vociferous and trenchant argument against the name, traditions, and branding of the Washington NFL Football Team known as the Washington Redskins. In the book, King draws on academic theory and the voices of a diverse group of Native American activists to argue the team’s name has “deep roots in genocidal violence,” perpetuates a culture of anti-Indian racism, and denies Native peoples “cultural citizenship” in the United States while simultaneously transforming “them into props and playthings” (p. 167). Throughout the work, King does not shy away from his strong biases against the franchise. The work is nothing short of a sustained attack on both the team name and the colonial legacies that inform its history.
In my opinion, King’s Redskins has quite a few flaws, and I have attempted to touch upon those in my review. Nonetheless, the book is an important one for all Americans to read, no matter what stance they take (if any) on the ongoing controversy surrounding the NFL team and its continued use of the word Redskins and its associated images. While there are many books that discuss the idea of appropriating Native American stereotypes for sports–such as Philip J. Deloria’s Playing Indian and Jennifer Guiliano’s Indian Mascots–King’s is the only one written by an academic that exclusively addresses the Washington Redskins franchise. Seeing as the book just came out at the beginning of last month (March, 2016), it is also likely to be the most recent and most thoughtful publication on the issue for quite some time. For those who do not have the spare time to read the book themselves, I hope that my review will help them stay apprised of the Redskins debate and continue thinking about what this controversy means for the state of our society today, as well as its future.
Many thanks to C. Richard King for all of the hard work that he did in researching and composing Redskins. As always, many thanks to Jeanine Clark Bremer of H-Florida, and the rest of the brilliant staff at H-Net headquarters for their help in editing and publishing the following review.
Links to the Review:
C. Richard King. Redskins: Insult and Brand. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2016. 256 pp. $24.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8032-7864-6.