OKC District Examines ‘Redskins’ Name at High School

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Oklahoma City Public Schools is looking into whether the Redskins nickname at Capitol Hill High School should be changed.

“The Oklahoma City Public School District has been researching how other institutions have addressed similar issues and we are also seeking the perspectives of Oklahoma-based Native American tribes,” district spokeswoman Tierney Tinnin said in an email Tuesday, responding to a question about the matter.

Tierney did not say whether the district or high school had received any complaints.

The district is also reaching out to alumni, students and faculty. The feedback will then be passed on to the district’s administration and school board.

The Redskins moniker became the center of a recent national debate when Native American groups and others raised new objections to use of the term by the Washington Redskins. Critics of the name say it is racist, while defenders say it is a tradition not intended to be disparaging.

Capitol Hill is one of six schools in Oklahoma with the Redskins nickname, according to MaxPreps.com, a high school sports website owned by CBS. The website lists 69 districts with the same nickname nationally.

The other Oklahoma districts are Dustin-Graham, Kingston, McLoud, Rush Springs and Union public schools. In Dustin-Graham, Dustin still goes by the Redskins name while Graham uses Chieftains. According to state data from 2012-2013, 5 percent of Capitol Hill students were Native American. Among the other districts, Kingston High School had the highest share who of students who are Native American, at 59 percent.

Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., who is Native American, has weighed in on the issue, calling the name “derogatory.”

“It is very, very, very offensive,” he told Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., publication. “This isn’t like warriors of chiefs. It’s not a term of respect.”

Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington Redskins, has said the name honors Native Americans and he has no plans to change it.