What's In A Name?: Kingston Residents Talk About Redskins - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

What's In A Name?: Kingston Residents Talk About Redskins

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KINGSTON, OK -- It's a controversy that's been debated in college and the NFL for years. Are Native American mascots offensive, or are they a tribute to American tribes?

We visited with Texomans to find out their thoughts about this ongoing battle off the field. Locally, there are a number of high school and college teams with mascots that nationally people have said are degrading.

In fact, one local team was the Redskins long before the NFL team took the name. Despite our efforts, we couldn't find anyone here that found the Redskins mascot offensive.

The Washington Redskins have proudly been taking the field since 1933. Many say their name was in honor of the head coach at the time, "Lone Star" Dietz, who claimed to be part-Sioux.

Today, it seems the controversy surrounding the name is garnering more attention than the actual football team itself. And opponents of the name are making their voices heard.

Bob Costas recently ranted about it during an NFL broadcast. "It's an insult, a slur, no matter how benign the present day intent," says Costas.

President Barack Obama has also addressed the topic. "Let's say if I were the owner of the team, and I knew that there was a name of my team -- even if it had a storied history -- that was offending a sizeable group of people, I'd think about changing it," says President Obama.

Protesters have also joined the fight. But back here at home, in an area heavily saturated with Native American people and their strong culture, we have about a half-dozen high school teams with Native American mascots.

"That's who we are. We're the Redskins and love it," says Kingston resident Steve McAdoo.

Plainview, Tishomingo and Marietta are all Indians, plus there are the Idabel Warriors, and  Kingston Redskins, and the Savages in both Broken Bow and Wynnewood.

However one local school's mascot was sacked back in 2006. After an NCAA ruling, Southeastern Oklahoma State University was forced to change their name from the Savages to the Savage Storm.

KTEN anchor Meredith Saldaña visited the small town of Kingston, home of the Redskins. With a population of only about 1,600, more than 50 percent of the students are Native American, and the town is busting at the seams with Redskin pride.

"It would be hard for y'all to go downtown without seeing someone with a Redskins shirt on or Kingston Public Schools supporting us on that side of it. I've got a great community here, very supportive of not just our activities, but our academics also," says Kingston superintendent Jay McAdams.

Since 1907, when the Kingston schools were founded, they've been the Redskins. Their football team was taking snaps about 26 years before the Washington Redskins.

"It makes me feel proud to be an Indian, proud to be an Indian. Nobody's ashamed to portray our name and everything else, and they're not ashamed to be called Redskins," says Kingston resident Carol Ward, who is half-Chickasaw.

Assistant football coach Brett Hayes is of Native American descent. He says in his 17 years working for Kingston schools, he's never heard a negative comment about their mascot.

"It's part of my heritage, you know Oklahoma is named after the red people and it's something that we take a lot of pride in around here. I mean it's all we've ever known. We're Redskins through and through," says Hayes.

KTEN talked to dozens of people downtown, many of them Native American, and we found they proudly support their Redskins.

"To my husband, he says it's an honor to him to use the word Redskin. It's like a warrior, a competitor and he doesn't get why it's offensive," says Kalynne Johnson, whose husband is Chickasaw.

"I think it stands for pride. I think it stands for a lot for people to stand up for. I don't know why in the world they would ever think about changing it because that's who we are," says McAdoo.

"It just makes you feel really good that we have Kingston Redskins, we have Washington Redskins. They need to keep their name because it's pride," says Ward.

Superintendent Jay McAdams says there hasn't been any discussion about changing his school's mascot. He adds that if local tribal officials ever say they have a problem with it, then the community, board members and tribal members would meet to find a resolution.