This letter is from a Blackfeet-American who is a better Washington Redskins fan than you or I. Read it.
My name is Robert Rides At The Door (aka Robert Doore) and I am enrolled Blackfeet and of Sioux Indian decent. In order to understand my story, you must know my history. I am a direct descendent of Jim Rides at the door, John and Mary Ground, and the Great Sitting Bull. My parents just celebrated 45 years of marriage and my family is one of four that are keepers of the sacred Thunder Medicine Pipe for the “Nitsiistapi” or as we refer to ourselves the “Real People”. Most of you know my Tribe by Blackfeet , which is a name given to us by Anglos that first interacted with us (Our souls of moccasins were blackened by grass fire when we met white fur traders). It is a name we have come to accept but nothing in our oral history refers to us as “Blackfeet.” Still, no one is offended by being called “Blackfeet”. I grew up on the Blackfeet Reservation in NW Montana, near Browning on our family ranch near Blackfoot and Badger Creek. Today, my parents and extended family still live on the reservation.
My Redskins journey begins
My story and love for the Washington Redskins began long ago. My dad’s Indian name is Estekan (“Always there, Dependable one”). He was an educated man, rich in our culture but also a teacher and business man. I was raised in two worlds, my father wanted to make sure I was massively successful, so he made sure I had both worlds (our ways and mainstream society) in my teachings. My dad taught me the ways of our tribe’s culture which included many things from history, traditional songs, language but the most important was being proud of who we are, always standing up for who we are and showing that we are the equal to every man in the world.
I grew up with long hair that was braided and was called a “girl” by white people and taunted by non reservation schools because of my hair. Some might have turned bitter toward the taunts however, thanks to my parents’ teachings, I turned to my culture and pride in our heritage and my PRIDE grew stronger. I began to look for everything that had Native American flair to it such as sports teams and I always rooted for them to win. In TV shows and movies, I always wished the Indians won (and beat John Wayne). To me, being a Native American meant pride, strength, passion, and courage to fight hard for what you believe in. In sports, I played basketball, ran track and cross country and football with my braids because I was sooo proud of my heritage. I was proud to be a Browning Indian. In fact, our High School in Browning is famous for running on to the basketball court with our War Bonnets on prior to the games. It was natural…I WAS REDSKIN TO THE CORE!
My Father also stressed the importance of being the “white man’s equal”—Education. He was an educated man (one of the first), and made sure I was a good student too. He also told me I needed to learn how to talk like the man on the 5 o’clock news, dress like him, and never let anyone treat you less. So in the 8th grade, we elected to cut my hair…my mom cried. Still my goal was to do big things in life and having a proper hair cut made sense to me. School and sports were my life and I was always top of my class and finished HS near the top with scholarships to college. Today, I am proud to say I hold three college degrees, and three initials after my name, “MBA”.
They named an NFL team for ME?
Years ago, when I was 5-6 years old My Dad returned from a business trip in Washington DC with a Redskins (Indian logo on it) hat on. WOW! I was sooooo AMAZED we – Indians -- were held in so high regard that they would name a NFL team after us!! I was sold on the Redskins and prayed the TV would air a Redskins game. On a cold windy day, when I was in the 4th Grade, I was on a flag football team and I forgot my coat at school. My mom bought me a Washington Redskins coat to keep warm during the game. I scored 6 touchdowns and had 10 QB sacks that game! I felt it was the magical coat and the courageous Indian Spirit portrayed in the Indian Head Logo. I had no idea what or where the name or logo came from. It was also around the same time when the Redskins won the Super Bowl in 1982-3. All I knew was it had the “R” like my name, the logo-which was me, a Proud Indian and it had super powers. …It was a validation, I was special and so was my team! I followed the Redskins in the newspaper stat sheets, ordered books on top of books about the team, researched the history. It was from my research I found the connection with the Washington Redskins, Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, and the Blackfeet tribe….MY TRIBE!
(Editor's note: Blackie Wetzel was chairman of the Blackfeet Nation and in 1961 elected president of The National Congress of American Indians. In 1971, Wetzel prompted the Washington Redskins to place an Indian Chief on the helmet to replace the Circle R imported by Vince Lombardi. Wetzel worked with the team on the design that is still in use.)
It is hard to pick my fondest Redskins memory with the rich history with all the Super Bowls, Big NFC wins, etc. but if I had to pick one, it would be when I accepted a job in Washington DC and was able to attend my first game in RFK Stadium. As I met families who were season ticket holders and what it meant them to be a Redskins fan, the love they had for the Native American, the family tradition passionate and positive about my team, and all the pride, honor and respect it meant to be a Washington Redskins Fan, I knew in my heart three things in life would be true: 1. Sun will rise. 2. Sun will set. 3. I WILL DIE A REDSKINS FAN.
I have never attended a Redskins home game with my dad…that is my dream even today. He is my best friend, my rock and we love the Washington Redskins!!
Over the years, I have worked all over the USA in the Public and Private sectors and am proud to say I am a self made man and have met many people from every races, sex and color. Often the non-native people from Black, White, Jew, Asian ask me if they should call me a Native American, American Indian, Indigenous Persons, and many other PC terms as to not offend me….I simply respond, “Call me an American, that’s what I am!” I teach my children to be proud just like their Papa taught me.
What you should know about the Redskins name
This team means more to me than many things in life! It is personal for me, it’s part of me and it’s my story. I cried when we lost, cheered when we won and when we won the Superbowl…this time INDIANS WON---I WON! I AM PROUD AND HONORED TO BE A REDSKIN! To all the supporters of the Washington Redskins I want to say what my parent tell me all of my life: “EEE GAWK EE MON” which means TRY HARD….always!
HAIL TO THE REDSKINS!
ROBERT RIDES AT THE DOOR
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