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While the U. has Utes’ blessing, other tribes at odds with Indian mascots

For some, it is about tradition, others argue symbols are racist.

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R-word controversy » The nation’s capital isn’t the only place the R-word is causing a stir. The sports teams at Neshaminy High School in the Bucks County, Pa., also take the name used by the D.C. football franchise. Recently, student journalists at The Playwickian student newspaper voted to ban the term.

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That caused a big stir in the school and the community, said Tara Huber, the paper’s faculty adviser.

"The student journalists saw it as a racial slur and they would no longer use it," she said. "But others claim it’s part of the high school’s tradition and we shouldn’t not use the term."

In the wake of the ban, the school board developed a policy saying the paper’s student editors "are not allowed to censor or prohibit the use of the term in any article or editorial that has been submitted."

Huber added the school board’s proposed policy also states: "Redskins shall not be perceived as a racist slur."

The board is slated to vote on the proposals at its May 21 meeting.

Earlier this year, the Navajo Tribal Council also voted to ban the R-word. Subsequently, however, Navajo President Ben Shelly’s administration allowed the D.C. NFL team to donate to the charity golf tournament sponsored by KTNN, the Navajo Nation’s radio station. In response, the Notah Begay III Foundation withdrew its support from the American Foundation Celebrity Golf Tournament in Chandler, Ariz. Notah Begay III is the only full-blooded American Indian on the PGA Tour.

Shelly was quoted in the Navajo Times as saying he was "disappointed" that the Begay foundation backed out of its sponsorship. But Shelly spokesman Rick Abasta told The Tribune that Shelly was not taking a position on the name of the D.C. football franchise.

"His disappointment was about the benefit to [Navajo] college students and is not indicative of his position on the mascot issue."

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Asked what Shelly’s position is on the D.C. mascot issue, Abasta said, "He has no position."


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