Former KU track star Billy Mills opposed to Washington NFL team nickname

07/03/2014 12:22 PM

Count Kansas track legend Billy Mills among those speaking out against the use of the name “Redskin” by the NFL franchise in Washington, D.C.

Mills, a member of the Lakota Nation and a 1964 Olympic gold medalist in the 10,000 meters, is clear about his objection to the name, speaking this week to The Gazette newspaper in Colorado Springs, Colo.

“If somebody said hi to me and then said, ‘Hey, how’s the Redskin doing,’ I think you would have to see a lack of sensitivity,” Mills told The Gazette. “It would offend me. The only time I’ve been referred to as a Redskin has been in derogatory ways.

“A Redskin has to do with the bounties placed on Native Americans. A bounty was paid if you could bring in the scalp, a Redskin. Where and to what point do we start accepting it as a badge of honor?”

“How can America allow this?” Mills continued.

The franchise’s use of the name has continued to come under fire in recent months. Washington owner Dan Snyder is vehemently opposed to a change, but in mid-June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled the franchise’s trademark, saying that it was “disparaging to Native Americans.”

“There’s a tremendous fear in this country to the idea of change,” Mills said. “We retaliate. We withdraw. I see that fear of change in this issue of the mascots.”

Mills also dismisses that argument the name can honor Native American culture.

“That’s beginning to collapse,” Mills said. “The name will be changed. How soon? How many more legal battles? I don’t know.”

The Star’s policy is to not use the term “Redskins” unless it is the subject of a story.

To reach Rustin Dodd, call 816-234-4937 or send email to rdodd@kcstar.com. Follow him on Twitter at @rustindodd.

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