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More Than a Word

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After a summer of uprising against systemic racism, specifically anti-Black racism, and decades of pressure from Native activists, the Washington NFL team reluctantly agreed to (eventually) change its infamous name. As of publication, they are officially the “Washington Football Team,” new name pending. That it took so long is a testament to how ingrained white supremacy is in America—and still, callous defenders claim the slur is “just a word.” But it’s not, and it never was, argues More Than a Word, a 2017 documentary by brothers John and Kenn Little, who are enrolled in the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The documentary dives into the history of the slur, its derogatory use, and the broader landscape of sports mascots and corporate logos that use caricatures of Native people. It’s a good companion to the National Museum of the American Indian’s long-running exhibition Americans, which “highlights the ways in which American Indians have been part of the nation’s identity since before the country began” in pop culture, art, and history. Fittingly, the NMAI will host a virtual screening of More Than a Word followed by a streamed conversation with Kevin Gover, the museum’s director and a citizen of the Pawnee Tribe of Oklahoma, and Diné activist Amanda Blackhorse, a plaintiff in the 2014 lawsuit Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc. who is featured in the film. The film streams at 7 p.m. on Aug. 28 and 3 p.m. on Aug. 29 at americanindian.si.edu. Free. —Emma Sarappo