“Hail to the Redskins” has been the official fight song of the Washington Redskins for 75 years.
Originally written by Barnee Breeskin for its debut on August 17, 1938, the original lyrics were revised by Corinne Griffith — wife of previous owner George Preston Marshall — to address changing social and political needs. Today’s “Fight for old D.C.” was originally “Fight for old Dixie,” and Griffith’s original lyrics were somewhat gruesome, with “Scalp ‘em, swamp ‘em. We will take ‘em big score. Read ‘em, weep ‘em Touchdown, we want heap more.”
Currently, Redskins owner Dan Snyder is being petitioned by ten members of the Unites States Congress to change the name which they call derogatory slang. In a letter to Snyder, also forwarded to all other 31 NFL teams, Redskins sponsor FedEx and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the congressmen compared the word Redskin to the “N” word for African Americans and the “W” word amongst Latinos. However, attacks on the Washington Redskins name is nothing new to the organization.
In 1992, the Morning Star Institute joined forces with the Dorsey & Whitney law firm in Minneapolis and other prominent Native Americans to petition the U.S. Patent and Trademark office. They claimed that the Redskins trademark was illegal because it violates a Federal Trademark law that states no trademark can be “disparaging, scandalous, contemptuous, or disreputable.” After seven years of deliberation, judges cancelled the federal trademarks claiming the Redskins name could bring Native Americans “into contempt or disrepute.”
When Snyder bought the Redskins in May of 1999, he appealed the federal trademark decision, leading to a reversal of the cancelled trademark based on grounds of insufficient evidence. Any further appeals to change the name have been rejected on the basis that these appeals were brought forth in a delayed or untimely manner. A new lawsuit, brought forth by younger plaintiffs is now still in proceedings.
Throughout it all, Dan Snyder has vowed he will never change the Redskins name.
A recent poll, conducted by the Washington Post in mid-June of 2013, shows that 66 percent of Washingtonians were opposed to the name change with 50 percent responding “strongly opposed.” In contrast, 34 percent were in favor of a name change, with 18 percent “strongly in favor.”
For the near future at least, the Redskins will continue to play football.