It’s On! March, Rally Against Washington Team Name Set for Dec. 28 march and rally against the Washington football team name is slated for December 28 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, organizers said.
A march and rally against the Washington football team name is slated for December 28 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, organizers said.

Simon Moya-Smith, Indian Country Today


A massive march and rally will meet the Washington football team as it closes its season on December 28 at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, organizers said.

“As the Washington team’s season comes to a dismal close, we call on Dan Snyder to claim a simple win: change the name. Washington’s ongoing use of a Native American slur and mascot promotes the dehumanization, marginalization, and stereotyping of Native peoples,” reads a press release sent to ICTMN.

The march will begin at 10 a.m. and will conclude with a rally at a yet to be determined location, according to the release.

Organizers of the event include the National Congress of American Indians, the Oneida Indian Nation’s Change the Mascot campaign, the American Indian Movement, the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, Not Your Mascots and other organizations.

For more information, go to the event’s Facebook page.



Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians Statement on Resignation of Washington NFL Team Executive Hired to Defend the R-Word Racial Epithet

The Oneida Indian Nation and the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), which lead the national Change the Mascot campaign, responded today to reports that the blogger hired just two weeks ago to defend the Washington NFL team’s use of a racial slur is resigning.*

Oneida Nation Homelands, NY (PRWEB) July 08, 2014

Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and NCAI Executive Director Jackie Pata said in response to this latest development*:

“The growing opposition to the team’s name is about far more than any one person—it is a civil rights and human rights issue and it is time for the team and the NFL to stand on the right side of history and change the mascot.

“In trying to continue profiting off of a racial slur, Washington team officials have attempted to assemble a political attack machine, but that has only underscored their insensitivity. Dan Snyder selected a person who financially harmed Native Americans to run a foundation to defend his team’s name.** Then Snyder hired a blogger to defend the name, even though that person previously publicly insulted Native Americans and also references the team’s name in a list of racial slurs.*** The fundamental lesson in each of those humiliating episodes should be obvious: there is simply no way to justify promoting, marketing and profiting off of a dictionary-defined racial slur.

“The only tenable solution for the team is to recognize that the R-word racial epithet is deeply offensive to Native Americans, to quit pretending that this word somehow honors them, and to stop using this slur. If Dan Snyder wants to stop embarrassing himself, his team, its fan base and the NFL, then he should approach the issue of the name from an honest and genuine standpoint.”

*Blogger hired to defend Redskins name resigns after two weeks, 7.8.14,
**Redskins foundation head drew criticism in I.G. report, 3.17.14,
***Washington’s blogger-turned-lobbyist faces scrutiny, 7.8.14,

Patawomeck Tribe: Snyder Could Rename the Redskins After Us

Not that they find the Redskins name offensive.

By Mark Sullivan, The American Spectator

Hail to the Potomacs? If the owner of the Redskins wants to put the controversy over his team name to rest while keeping a Native American theme, he’ll likely have one local tribe’s blessing.

“I was just telling my wife the other day, ‘Why don’t we write to Dan Snyder and suggest changing the name to the Washington Potomacs?” said John Lightner, chief of the Patawomeck tribe of Virginia.

The Patawomecks (or Potomacs), native people of the region, gave their name to the river that flows through Washington, D.C. In the 1600s they belonged to the tribal confederation headed by the great chief Powhatan, from whose war club daughter Pocahontas, legend has it, saved John Smith. (Pocahontas’s mother was a Patawomeck.) Today the tribe counts some 1,500 members, most in Stafford County, Va.

If — and that’s if — the Redskins wanted to style themselves the Potomacs, after the local tribe and the great waterway that shares their name, the tribe likely would endorse the move, Lightner, said.

It has a certain ring to it. It would evoke a sense of place as the name of the river as well as the tribe native to the region. The team’s colors wouldn’t have to change. Nor, for that matter, would the logo.

And this strategy, adopting the name of a local tribe with that tribe’s blessing, is what has saved the Florida State University Seminoles, the University of Utah Utes, and the Central Michigan University Chippewas from charges of racism. The local Stafford High School Indians drew criticism for their mascot, but the tribe wrote to express support for the name, and even helped redesign the logo from a Plains Indian in headdress to an Eastern Woodland Indian reflective of local tribes.

Not that Patawomecks are necessarily offended by the Redskins name, mind you — despite what critics in the media, Congress, and the U.S. Patent Office say.

“I do not find the title of the Washington Redskins offensive in any way,” said William L. Deyo, Patawomeck tribal historian. “I cannot speak for the whole tribe, but I can honestly say that I have never heard of anyone in the tribe having a problem with the name of Redskins used by the team.”

Chief Lightner agreed, in much the same terms. “We’ve got to the point where political correctness has gotten to be ridiculous — everything is offensive to somebody,” he said. “I would venture to say it would be shocking to see how many Native Americans are not opposed to the Redskins’ name.”

Bonny Newton, Patawomeck tribal secretary, recalled the joy taken in the team by her late mother-in-law, Polly Sullivan Newton, who passed away this spring at age 93. “She was the most loyal of all Redskin fans,” Newton said. “She watched every game. I really enjoyed watching Miss Polly watch the Redskins. From her recliner she told the team how to play, what to play, and who to play the entire three-plus hours every Sunday. She knew all the team members, the coach, and this little woman had the rules of the game down pat.”

Activists pressing the name-change campaign condemn Indian team names and mascots as an appropriation and mockery of native culture. The Redskins, for their part, staunchly defend their 80-year-old name as an expression of honor for Native American pride, strength and bravery.

“I would prefer to keep the name of the team as the Washington Redskins, as it is a longtime name of pride for area people,” said Deyo, the Patawomeck historian. But if the team were to switch to the name of his tribe, he said, “I would find the name of Washington Potomacs an honor.”

Snyder Tells ‘Redskins’ Critics ‘We’re Not an Issue’

Associated Press
Associated Press


Indian Country Today Media Network


Dan Snyder, the owner of Washington’s NFL team, made brief remarks to  an Associated Press reporter on Tuesday arguing that it’s time for people to “focus on reality” concerning Native American issues instead of criticizing the team’s nickname.

“We understand the issues out there, and we’re not an issue,” Snyder said. “The real issues are real-life issues, real-life needs, and I think it’s time that people focus on reality.”

Snyder’s remarks came after his football team donated copy00,000 to a high school athletic field in a Virginia suburb of D.C. The donation was based on a letter he wrote last month to announce his Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. “I wrote a letter to the fans and it speaks for itself,” Snyder told reporters. “It tells you we did our homework, unlike a lot of people, and we understand the issues out there.”

RELATED Snyder Wins: How ‘CancelColbert’ Drowned Out the Native Voice

But many say that Snyder needs a serious dose of reality himself. In a statement, the National Congress of American Indians said, “Dan Snyder lives in a world where he can get his way throwing his money around. The reality is that he is stubbornly defending the use of a slur.”

“Here’s a reality check: The longer [Snyder] insists on slurring Native Americans, the more damage he will keep doing to Native American communities,” Ray Halbritter, Oneida Indian Nation representative, said in a statement.

Snyder has insisted that he will never change the team’s’ name, calling it a “badge of honor,” and he did not respond to reporters’ questions that his new foundation is a way of throwing money around to silence his critics. Instead, he asserted that the foundation is on the right track. “I think it tells you that we did our homework — unlike a lot of people,” he said.

But the foundation is receiving a failing grade from many leaders in the Native community, including Notah Begay III a four-time winner on the PGA Tour. Begay, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports before Snyder made his comments, said that the foundation was “a gimmick” and that Snyder was trying to “offset some of the public disdain for the name of his football team. The Washington football team’s front office has tried to make the issue about them and it’s really not about them. It’s about, unfortunately, the NFL and its owners and its corporate partners condoning use of that word.

RELATED NIGA’s Stevens on Navajo President, ‘Slams,’ Respect and Redskins

“I don’t think if a similar racially offensive word was used for the Hispanic, African American or Jewish communities that it would be tolerated,” Begay told USA Today. “But because the American Indian people historically have not had much political leverage, or because we don’t represent a great amount of buying power from a retail standpoint, we don’t get the same level of treatment that everyone else in this country gets.”



Outrage in Indian Country as Redskins Owner Announces Foundation

Associated PressWashington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.

Associated Press
Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder.


Indian Country Today Media Network

With a four-page letter released late in the day on Monday, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has taken his stubborn defense of the team’s name to a new level.

The early reaction from Indian country: We’re not buying it.

The campaign to quell controversy over the name of the Washington Redskins football team has in recent months included photo ops with Navajo code talkers and a highly suspect Native pro-Redskins grassroots campaign. Now Snyder has announced the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

Snyder’s letter begins by affirming that he has no intention of ever changing his team’s problematic name, referring to a letter he wrote to fans in the fall: “I wrote then–and believe even more firmly now–that our team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.”

The Redskins owner then describes his campaign of outreach to American Indian communities, and cites facts about poverty, health, and standard of living in Native communities that everyone in Indian country is all too familiar with.

Snyder’s conclusion: Clinging to his team’s racial-slur name is a noble gesture, but isn’t enough to solve Indian country’s problems. Or as he puts it: “It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more.”

The letter is rife with self-satisfaction and misdirection, repeatedly emphasizing all the wonderful ways the Redskins, through the Foundation, might help Indian country, with no mention of the elephant in the room: The widespread objection in Indian country to the team’s name. For instance, here’s another interesting tap dance, bolded and italicized as in the original:

“Our efforts will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need most. We may have created this new organization, but the direction of the Foundation is truly theirs.”

Such willingness to let Indians say what is most beneficial for Indians does not, obviously, extend to his football team’s name.

The announcement has met with harsh criticism in Indian country.

“We’re glad that after a decade of owning the Washington team, Mr. Snyder finally says he is interested in Native American heritage, but this doesn’t change the fact that he needs to stand on the right side of history and change his team’s name,” Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter, said in a statement to ThinkProgress.

Suzan Shown Harjo, who has led the legal charge against the name for decades, shared stronger words with Think Progress: “Native America is impoverished? He just now figured that out? We know what the pressing issues are. We’re the ones who’ve been dealing with them all our lives. What an insult. The whole thing. This is a stunt. To me, it’s a stunt. But we’ll see. Supposedly it’s a change of heart, but it’s not a change of mind. And it’s not a change of name.”

Backlash on Twitter from Natives, many of whom have been united by the #NotYourMascot hashtag, has been forceful.

Frank Waln ‏@FrankWaln “Dan Snyder is scum of the earth”

Lauren Chief Elk ‏@ChiefElk “Countdown until ‘Dan Snyder is trying to help you and you guys aren’t even grateful!'”

Johnnie Jae ‏@johnniejae “Apparently visiting 26 of 300+ reservations & bribing 400 tribal leaders means we should bow to our new savior Dan Snyder #notyourmascot

What TRIBE ‏@WhatTRIBE “When redeeming racist brands, hire brand management experts from secret service to create pity press for penance/ not repentance @Redskins

Dani ‏@xodanix3  “Whats most frustrating about Snyder’s strategies is just how petty they are. Its insulting they even take it there.”

julia good fox ‏@goodfox “‘@Redskins: It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of #Native Americans, we must do more’ <— not The Onion.”

Sarah ‏@eyesnhearts “I’m pretty sure I don’t need the white savior industrial complex to help me with my reality #NotYourMascot

Adrienne K. ‏@NativeApprops “What kind of choice is that for communities? Here, have some desperately needed resources. Shhh, just say you don’t mind the racial slur.”

Aura Bogado ‏@aurabogado “Synder understands #Natives so well that he mentioned Redskins 24 times, and tribal sovereignty 0 times”

Jacqueline Keeler ‏@jfkeeler “Dan Snyder, helping is not dictating. Being a friend means listening not buying silence.  #NotYourMascot

Snyder’s letter is below; the original pdf is available at



What is an Indian?






September 18,2013

In the background of all issues involving American Indians is always the question of what is an Indian? While there are any number of groups in this country today who have complicated issues surrounding identity, there is no identity issue more complicated than that of American Indian identity. As an aside, you will notice I did not say no identity issue is more important. It’s difficult to call any American Indian issue in this country important in a standard social sense the way, say, African-American issues are important – there simply aren’t enough Indians in the country to warrant national media attention. When it comes to politics, numbers are, in a way, everything.

A case in point is that of the most recent controversy surrounding the Washington Football Team’s name – notice that in all this talk, and there’s a lot of talk, all you have to do is Google the team’s name – notice the only Indian that has made any kind of national public appearance anyone has paid attention to is the man team owner Dan Snyder trotted out to defend the name. And notice what is going on when so-called Chief Dodson is telling the nation that not only is the name ok with him, but that people in his community use the term regularly when greeting each other. Here we have an example of the inside being mistaken for the outside, and that age-old fallacy of one Indian’s opinion being mistaken for every that of every Indian.

The US has a long history of mistaking one Indian for every Indian – all it takes is one look at the history of Federal-Indian policy to see this. For example, during the allotment era in the late 1800s the idea was to civilize tribal members on reservations by turning them into farmers – even if the reservation where they were located was entirely unsuitable for farming. This policy of course was enacted by Congressional members who had little to no experience with Indian Country, but who nonetheless had near absolute power over tribes – a power that was finally solidified with the 1903 Lone Wolf v. Hitchcock US Supreme Court ruling. What did the ruling say? That Congress had plenary power over tribes. What does plenary power mean? The Oxford English Dictionary defines plenary as such: full, complete, or perfect; not deficient in any element or respect; absolute. The Lonewolf case, even though it was a case regarding the allotment of a single tribe’s lands on the southern plains, gave Congress total and final power over all tribal affairs, placing tribes under a kind of political Sword of Damocles, and along with it the unending threat of Congressional action without tribal consent.

Consider the ideas of blood, and blood quantum, the ideas we use today in large part to define who is and is not an American Indian, don’t have tribal origins – they originate in Europe, hundreds of years before contact in North America. As early as the 1200s the British were using ideas of blood to limit the political and social rights of people who were deemed less than so-called “full-blood” – and they carried that idea to the new continent, where they began implementing ideas of blood to penalize people who married either an Indian or an African-American, and to limit a person’s ability to testify in court or vote according to whether or not they were considered to be of so-called mixed-blood. Tribes on this continent traditionally identified membership most simply by who was or was not living with and participating in the community. That is, if you lived with the people, you were part of the people. These ideas of blood eventually extended to limiting the land ownership rights of Indians on reservations during the allotment era, to such a degree that in some cases over 2/3 of a tribe was not allotted land on their respective reservations because they didn’t meet so-called blood quantum criteria – a US established criteria, of course, that made it much easier to justify selling land that was “left-over” to non-Indians, thus splitting up land ownership on reservations between tribal members and non-Indians.

So how is it I got to talking about blood? Because one of Snyder’s contentions for the validity of so-called Chief Dodson’s opinion was that he is a “full-blooded” Inuit chief. The suggestion of course is that blood alone makes you an Indian – never mind particular cultural knowledge, and definitely never mind speaking an indigenous language – the only thing that matters here is blood. This idea of Indian blood is so prevalent that any number of intelligent contemporary Americans have taken this idea of Indian blood at face value, as if there is some intrinsic value in the blood itself. But when we turn this idea around, things fall apart pretty fast, don’t they? Because while there are plenty of people in Montana with so-called Irish blood, how much knowledge of Irish culture has this blood brought with it? If this blood thing isn’t making much sense to you at this point, don’t worry, you’re not alone, it’s never made any sense to me either.

Finally, to return to a point I made earlier about so-called Chief Dodson’s statement regarding Indians use of the team’s name as a kind of friendly greeting – I have never once seen it happen in my life. While the term “skin” is not uncommon among Indian who are friends, the point is that it’s a term used by insiders among each other. In other words, I would love for Dan Snyder to walk into any social gathering place on any reservation or reserve in North America and say, What’s up, Redskins? I’m absolutely positive things would turn out just fine.

I’m Sterling HolyWhiteMountain, thanks for listening


Sterling HolyWhiteMountain

Congress Members Respond to NFL Commissioner’s Support for ‘Redskins’ Name


June 11, 2013

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell

Two members of Congress,  Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa) and Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) have issued responses to the June 5 letter sent by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell regarding the league’s position on the Washington, D.C. franchise’s use of the name “Redskins.” Goodell wrote in his letter that the term, considered offensive–racist–by many Native Americans, has a “positive meaning.” (Read Goodell’s entire letter here.)

Congressman Faleomavaega responded to the letter with the following statement:

Eni Faleomavaega (D-American Samoa)

“Mr. Goodell has completely missed the point regarding the Washington franchise’s name. In his recent letter, he acknowledges the NFL’s ‘responsibility to exemplify […] values of diversity and inclusion.’ Yet in the same letter he fails to assume any responsibility for the racism that the Washington franchise’s name continues to promote. You cannot have it both ways. Whether good intentioned or not, the fact of the matter is that the term ‘Redskin’ is a racial slur that disparages Native Americans. It is time for the NFL to stop making excuses for itself and fully embrace its so-called commitment to diversity.”

Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) (MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel)
Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn
(MPR Photo/Nikki Tundel)

Democratic Co-Chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus Congresswoman McCollum issued the following response:

“Unfortunately, NFL Commissioner Goodell’s letter is another attempt to justify a racial slur on behalf of Dan Snyder and other NFL owners who appear to be only concerned with earning ever larger profits, even if it means exploiting a racist stereotype of Native Americans. For the head of a multi-billion dollar sports league to embrace the twisted logic that ‘Redskin’ actually ‘stands for strength, courage, pride, and respect’ is a statement of absurdity.

“Would Roger Goodell and Dan Snyder actually travel to a Native American community and greet a group tribal members by saying, ‘Hey, what’s up redskin?’ I think not. (“Hey, what’s up redskin” is >a quote from materials provided to my office by the NFL, along with the claim that “Redskins” is a “term of endearment” among Native Americans.)

“Indian children, families and elders are Americans, and just like all racial, ethnic, or religious groups, they deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not as a demeaning caricature or mascot. That shouldn’t be too much to ask of the NFL.”