I went to yet another high school graduation the other night and during the 'after party' there in the gym, a friend of mine came up to me and greeted me by calling me an Old Battleaxe.
I told her I was offended and then I asked her to spell battleaxe.
She spelled b-a-t-t-l-e-a-x.
I added an 'e' to the end of her spelling.
So the next day while reflecting on that encounter, I looked up the word 'battleaxe' in the dictionary and found both spellings are correct.
Then I read the definition: "An overbearing old woman."
First of all, I was offended by being called an old battleaxe without even really knowing what the definition was and then I had to wonder is that really who/what I am and/or how people see me?
I truly appreciate that this valley is having this redskin conversation because it is one of the many important conversations all of us should be having as 'our' president's social skills are at the kindergarten level of calling Other People names all the time!
Is that the permission we need to be rude and offensive to each other?
That is how he has lived his entire adult life and now this is how he is conducting the business of the United States of America.
We should all be offended by this behavior.
It is also relevant because the common usage of redskins began many long years ago and it was never meant to be complimentary and/or affectionate.
I have always been offended by the Washington, D.C. football team mascot being Redskins.
Hasn't there ever been anybody in Washington D.C. for all of these years that knows anything at all of our 600-year history and the genocide we visited upon the Native American population and isn't also offended? I have no idea when the Washington Redskins became a franchise, but to go off in that direction would be a distraction to the conversation in which I am attempting to participate.
This is about us, not them.
After looking-up battleaxe I looked-up Chink in deference and respect to/for last week's letter-to-the-editor. According to the dictionary . . . "Slang. A Chinese. An offensive term used derogatorily."
Then I looked up the word bitch because I am a woman and have also been called a bitch, not kindly. "Slang. A spiteful or a lewd woman."
I may be a lot of things, but 'spiteful' and/or 'lewd' are not among them. Okay, I might moan and groan and complain once-in-awhile (also a definition of 'bitch' - but a verb, not a noun) and not enough to define me as a bitch.
So then, of course, I had to look-up Redskin.
"Informal. A North American Indian."
Does anyone else imagine who the people were that were writing these definitions and what their biases were or may have been?
Personally, I think I admire Native Americans more than any and all other ethnic groups because of their inherent sense of how to live compatibly with their environment. All of their needs were met through the land - food, shelter, clothing. They only took what they needed to survive from the land. They didn't over-populate beyond what the environment could sustain. Yes they experienced conflict with other tribes, but it was more about encroachment of territory and less about domination. So when I hear people using derogatory terms for Native Americans, I get offended.
Of course, we are (generally speaking) a community of Caucasian and Hispanic peoples and it seems important to me that if we want to continue to identify as "redskins" we should at least be asking some Native Americans how they feel about that term . . . just as a baseline.
I am not sure what this community conversation is going to look like; I do hope it is a civil conversation and that all perspectives are heard respectfully.
In my mind there is only one right answer - right as in right vs. wrong as opposed to right vs. left.
May I suggest inviting Paulette Jordan to be part of the conversation due to her ancestry as a Native American and her talent to be a logical and soft-spoken speaker and because she was on the ballot as the Democratic candidate for the Idaho Governorship in this past election . . . and she chose to be in Driggs the day before the election?
Words do matter.
So lastly I looked-up RESPECT. The definition is too long for a letter to the editor, but one worthy of reading for all of us that choose to invest in this conversation.