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Arizona high school joins fight to keep Redskins name

PHOENIX — A small high school in northeastern Arizona has reportedly joined the fight to keep the Redskins nickname, both for itself and the Washington, D.C. National Football League franchise.

The Washington Post reported Red Mesa High School, located in the Navajo Nation near Four Corners, wants to keep the nickname, despite widespread criticism it is racist.

Sitting in the front row, Superintendent Tommie Yazzie basked in the crowd’s festive mood and in the sight of the newly built football field, which cost nearly $400,000 in federal aid at a school that struggles to pay for computers and wheelchair-accessible bathrooms.

“This is one of the reasons why it’s so hard to change the name,” he said with a smile, trying to make his voice heard over the cheers. “I don’t find it derogatory. It’s a source of pride.”

The school is one of three in the nation that uses the nickname and has a majority Native American student body. While Amanda Blackhorse, the most prominent Navajo in the national argument, claims Redskins is racist, most students at the school don’t mind the name.

“I don’t know what she means that it’s a racial slur,” said Mckenzie Lameman, 17, a junior who is Red Mesa’s student government president. “It’s not a racist slur if it originates from a Native American tribe. . . . It’s always used in the context of sports.”

In a survey, a large majority of both students and staff said they don’t mind the moniker. Most said they are worried about other things in the reservation — such as cleaning up their contaminated drinking water, hiring more teachers and updating schools.

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