A news story, dated October 9, 1885, reveals further evidence that the word ‘redskin’ was not historically spoken in reverence for Native Americans, but instead as an identifier during extermination efforts.
The clip, published by the Atchison Daily Champion in Atchison, Kansas, tells of settlers in Arizona fanning out across the state to “hunt for redskins, with a view of obtaining their scalps.” Scalps taken from the bodies of dead Indians were valued at $250, according to the report.
The campaign was allegedly launched in an effort to end the Apache Wars – a period between the mid to late 19th century when the Apache resisted American encroachment and the imposed reservation system.
“It is believed that several New Mexican cities and counties will adopt this plan of exterminating the savages,” the report reads.
Arizona resident Bobby Wilson, Sisseton-Wahpeton Dakota, told ICTMN that the word ‘redskin’ is unambiguously associated with the killing of Native Americans.
“People make this crazy argument that ‘redskin’ is some kind of Indian term, but when you take a look at something like this, ‘redskin’ is clearly referring to a bounty [on] dead human [beings],” he said.
Wilson, who’s also a member of the comedy-sketch troupe the 1491s, said media has perpetuated the image and idea that scalps were taken solely from the bodies of dead Native American males.
“It’s this idea that’s been painted in media that people who were doing all the fighting and dying were Indian men,” he said. “The matter of the fact was that whole families were being massacred – male, female, old, young – soldiers were going in and slaughtering countless human beings.”
The Atchison Daily Champion clip is not the first of its kind to be unearthed in recent years. In November 2013, Dallas Goldtooth, Dakota, and also of the 1491s, discovered a news clipping dated 1863 where the advertisement stated the “reward for dead Indians has been increased to $200 for every red-skin sent to Purgatory.”
“It was only five generations ago that a white man could get money for one of my grandfather’s scalps,” wrote Goldtooth on a Facebook post as reported by ICTMN editor Rachael Johnson.
The discovery of the news clip comes days after the Change the Mascot campaign released a new YouTube video in protest of the Washington football team moniker and logo.
Last June, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board found the word ‘redskin’ to be “disparaging to Native Americans” and cancelled six of the Washington football team’s seven trademarks.
Team owner Dan Snyder said he will “NEVER” change the name.
Editor’s Note: The Atchison Daily Champion news clip was located during research conducted by ICTMN Culture Editor Simon Moya-Smith using Gale NewsVault at Columbia University’s Butler Library in New York City.