Catawbas were planting squash and corn when the first European settlers arrived on the continent. They hunted and fished along the Catawba River. They danced. Catawbas fought Cherokees. For centuries, Charleston cooks insisted on authentic Catawba pottery for their okra soup.

Historians think the Catawbas, the only federally recognized Native American tribe in South Carolina, have ancestral ties that date back 6,000 years.

The Washington Redskins have tradition, too.

Hopefully team owner Daniel Snyder will wake up and the nickname part of Washington's NFL lore won't last much longer.

"Redskin was a derogatory term used to characterize Native Americans as savages," Catawba Chief Bill Harris said from Rock Hill, home of the Catawba Cultural Center. "No other minority group is subjected to the use of such slang terms about their people when referring to a commonly used mascot name."

Sensible compromise lines can be drawn on Native American nicknames attached to sports teams:

Keep tribe-specific nicknames such as (Florida State) Seminoles, (Utah) Utes and (Central Michigan) Chippewas if approved by the respective tribes.

Make sure generic brands such as Indians, Braves and Warriors are sensitively presented without offensive logos or mascots.

Immediately change ridiculous nicknames such as the Washington Redskins, and the similarly reprehensible <URL destination="">Savannah (Missouri) High School Savages.

Washington Monuments.

Washington Filibusters.

D.C. Divided.

Almost anything but Redskins.

The 'big difference'

There is an educational component to the Washington Redskins, beyond the Super Bowl greatness of the Joe Gibbs era: Kids following the team get indoctrinated into America's long history of passive racism toward Native Americans.

Tribe nicknames, on the other hand, can promote interest and curiosity. Outside of their geographic bases, where else do you hear about the Seminoles and Utes if they aren't participating in a televised athletic event?

Harris essentially agrees.

Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., maintains its Indians nickname.

"Many sports teams have taken the initiative to ask permission from the tribes that are in their area to use their names or likeness," Harris said. "Catawba College was granted permission from our tribe many years ago to continue using the Catawba Indians as their mascot. There is a big difference in these types of mascots and the Redskins mascot."

Relative harmony is the exception.

Stanford changed its name from Indians to Cardinal way back in 1972 and Dartmouth from Indians to Big Green in 1974.

South Carolina's Newberry College, pressured by the NCAA, went from Indians to Wolves in 2010. This after the NCAA - based in, of all town names, Indianapolis - included Newberry among 17 schools with offensive nicknames and threatened postseason bans if nicknames weren't changed.

Mick Zais, then the Newberry president and now the S.C. Superintendent of Education, blasted the NCAA move as a "decision arbitrary and capricious and, frankly, discriminatory to our college."

No more Noc-A-Homa

Some schools and pro teams with Native American nicknames have cut back on cartoon images in logos and mascot outfits.

Illinois no longer has Chief Illiniwek but is still the Fighting Illini.

The days when Chief Noc-A-Homa emerged from a teepee to dance after Atlanta Braves home runs are long gone. So is the old Braves logo featuring the face of a crazed, screaming guy.

Unfortunately, Braves fans encouraged by background music still do the Tomahawk Chop, apparently imported to Atlanta by former outfielder/cornerback Deion Sanders from Florida State, where the Chief Osceola mascot rides a horse and throws flaming arrows onto football fields.

Yes, many teams with Native American sports nicknames need public relations tweaks.

The Redskins need an overhaul. Too bad they were targets of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office last month when it cancelled team trademarks, saying the nickname is "disparaging" to Native Americans; government agencies don't belong in this flap.

But the Redskins brought this increasing noise upon themselves, just in time for football season.

For 31 NFL teams, summer chatter is about getting better on offense and defense. Then there's Washington, an intriguing team in the shadow of more offensive remarks by Daniel Snyder as he tries to defend an indefensible nickname.

Follow Gene Sapakoff on Twitter @sapakoff