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An old slang term that refers, usually in a disparaging way, to a Native American person. The term "Red Skins" originated in letters and reports of white European settlers in North America in the early 1700s, and it is not clear if it was based on the skin color of Native Americans, or on red pigments used by some tribes to paint their faces and bodies. Over time, as tensions and conflicts between Europeans and Native peoples intensified, the word took hold as derogatory, racist slang indicating primitivism and savagery, and was used freely in a variety of contexts, including many popular films made in the 1940s and 1950s. In the late 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement and the American Indian Movement provided the social and cultural background for a widespread protest of the use of racist slang, and public expressions containing the term declined and nearly disappeared.

Although these days the word "redskin" is generally no longer in use, controversy still surrounds it. A major focus for the controversy involves the Washington, D.C. National Football League team the Washington Redskins, whose mascot is the image of a Native American warrior dressed in traditional Plains Indian regalia. Despite much criticism, the team still holds on to its name and trademark, and protests from various civil rights and academic organizations have not as of yet convinced the team to change its name. While many critics and commentators take offense at the use of the term, others believe it is a benign expression that does not mean or cause harm.

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