Alaska’s largest tribe vows FedEx boycott until Redskins sponsorship revoked

By Brandon Schlager, Perform Media, Sporting News

At 30,000 members strong nationwide, Alaska’s largest Native American tribe has taken direct aim at FedEx in the hope that the shipping giant’s financial clout might persuade the Washington football team to change its racially-charged nickname once and for all.

Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska says it will boycott all FedEx services so long as the company continues to sponsor the Redskins. In doing so, the tribe, one of the nation’s largest, believes its strength in numbers could be enough to hit the NFL franchise where it hurts — its wallet.

FedEx owns the naming rights to the team’s stadium and is one of its top sponsors.

“This isn’t anti-FedEx. We are exercising our strength financially,” tribal president Richard Peterson said, via the Juneau Empire. “If you actively support entities, in this case specifically a sports franchise that has a mascot and name derogatory to our people, we’re going to spend our dollars elsewhere — that’s us voting with our dollars.”

The Redskins nickname is considered by many to be derogatory toward indigenous peoples. By definition, the Merriam-Webster dictionary recognizes the term as “very offensive and should be avoided.”

But team owner Daniel Snyder insists the moniker is intended to honor Native Americans and has refused to accommodate demands to change it, despite intense public and political pushback.

So far, the team’s biggest sponsors have remained mostly silent on the matter. But that’s what the CCTHITA intends to change with the support of joint organizations like the National Congress of American Indians and the Native American Rights Fund.

“We have a longstanding relationship with Washington Football Inc. (the Redskins’ parent company),” FedEx president Fred Smith, a member of the Redskins ownership group, told CNBC in June 2014 — the last time the company has made a public comment regading its relationship with the franchise.

“The Redskins play at FedEx Field. But there are many, many other events there: the Rolling Stones, Notre Dame, and Army and Navy football, Kenny Chesney. That’s our sponsorship, and we really don’t have any dog in this issue from the standpoint of FedEx.”

Peterson said the boycott will remain in effect until FedEx pulls its sponsorship or the Redskins remove a name he says perpetuates racial stereotypes.

“It’s like anybody else using the N-word,” Peterson said. “It’s like calling our women squaws. It may have been popular … with colonial, backwards-minded people back in the day, but I don’t think it’s appropriate and we need to be a voice and a champion.

“Hopefully they’re going to say, ‘You know what, we’re not going to wave our confederate flag or these old symbols of racism.'”

Tribal chief: No FedEx until Redskins change team name

By Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN

(CNN) — A Native American chief has asked all tribal employees not to use FedEx until the Washington Redskins changes its team name.

“Until the name of the NFL team is changed to something less inflammatory and insulting, I direct all employees to refrain from using FedEx when there is an alternative available,” Osage Nation Chief Geoffrey M. Standing Bear penned in his directive to all employees.

The tribe also issued a news release saying that Redskins owner Daniel Snyder “chooses to stick with a brand which dictionaries define as disparaging and offensive. FedEx chose to endorse that brand through their sponsorship of Mr. Snyder’s organization.”

It concludes, “The Osage Nation chooses not to use FedEx services. We encourage other tribal nations to consider similar actions.”

Standing Bear was not available for an interview, but Assistant Chief Raymond Red Corn said the tribe would “stand-pat” on the press release.

“It was not our intention to become a news item,” he said, adding that “ethics” drove the tribe’s decision.

The Redskins play their home games at FedExField, to which the shipping giant purchased the naming rights in a 27-year, $207 million deal in 1999, Forbes reports. Fred Smith, FedEx’s chairman, president and CEO, is part of the team’s ownership group.

Patrick Fitzgerald, FedEx’s senior vice president of marketing and communications, released a statement Wednesday saying that his employer values its sponsorship of the stadium and “we are proud that FedExField is a venue that is used by a wide range of community groups.”

“FedEx has closely followed the dialogue and difference of opinion concerning the Washington Redskins team name, but we continue to direct questions about the name to the franchise owner,” Fitzgerald said.

Snyder has repeatedly defended the name and wrote in a March letter that the 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 team has employed Native Americans to defend the name and launched a site called Redskins Facts to promote its stance that the names honors Native Americans rather than disparages them.

The team also has created a foundation to provide resources to tribal communities.

The good deed hasn’t stemmed the controversy as opposition to the name persists, and President Barack Obama said last year that if he were Snyder, he might change the name.

In June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled six trademarks belonging to the team, saying they were offensive. The team appealed the decision, saying it spent millions defending the trademark, and the patent office ruled the Redskins could use the logos until the years-long appeals process was complete.

The National Congress of American Indians has spoken out against the use of Redskins and other Native American mascots, and the Native Voice Network, which represents numerous Native American organizations, has targeted FedEx in its effort to convince Snyder to change the team name.

The Native Voice Network says use of “R-word” has a negative, dehumanizing effect on children, a major concern when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says suicide is the second-leading cause of death among Native American people between the ages of 15 and 24.

Chrissie Castro, the Native Voice Network’s “network weaver,” says her group “definitely” supports Osage Nation.

“We’re very proud of their position and we’d love to see other tribal communities do the same,” she said.

The Oklahoma tribe has about 18,000 members and is situated in Osage County, the setting for the Meryl Streep movie, “August: Osage County.”

CNN’s Devon M. Sayers contributed to this report.

NCAI, Former FCC Commissioners Call on FedEx to Cut Ties With ‘Redskins’

Flickr.comFedEx Field in Landover, Maryland
FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland


Simon Moya-Smith, Indian Country Today


On Tuesday, the National Congress of American Indians sent a letter to FedEx CEO Fredrick W. Smith encouraging him to dissolve his company’s relationship with the Washington Redskins on the grounds that the team name is pejorative and that by using it the team continues to honor the legacy of a segregationist.

“We are asking for you to help us stop Washington’s NFL football team from using FedEx’s name to endorse a dictionary-defined racial slur and promoting the legacy of the infamous segregationist who decided to use this slur to brand the team,” the letter reads. “At FedEx field, your company is allowing its iconic brand to be used as a platform to promote the R-word – a racist epithet that was screamed at Native Americans as they were dragged at gunpoint off their lands.”,

The “infamous segregationist” mentioned in the letter is former team owner George Preston Marshall, who is remembered for his long refusal to include African Americans on his team’s roster. The lower level of FedEx field is named for Mr. Marshall.

The letter, signed by representatives of the Oneida Indian Nation and United Church of Christ, was sent to Smith after the U.S. patent office declared last week the team name is “disparaging to Native Americans” and cancelled six of its federally protected trademarks.

Following that landmark decision, individual Native Americans and former Federal Communication Commission officials are again calling on the FCC to reconsider the use of the name during broadcasts.

In a letter sent to Snyder earlier this year, former FCC Chairman Reed Hundt, former Commissioners Jonathan Adelstein and Nicholas Johnson argue that an indecency case could be made against broadcasters who air the disparaging word on the air, Politico reported.

“It is impermissible under law that the FCC would condone, or that broadcasters would use, obscene pornographic language on live television,” the letter, obtained by Politico, reads. “This medium uses government owned airwaves in exchange for an understanding that it will promote the public interest. Similarly, it is inappropriate for broadcasters to use racial epithets as part of normal, everyday reporting.”

Hundt spoke to Indian Country Today Media Network and said that the FCC should reevaluate whether or not Snyder is “fit” to have licenses from the FCC. By “fit,” Hundt said he means “a person of appropriate character.”

“The FCC should consider whether Mr. Snyder is fit to own radio station licenses given that he uses radio stations to broadcast an ethnic slur,” he said. “These licenses are owned by the public and they are given to individuals for the purpose of serving the public interest. The FCC does not give radio station licenses to felons; it doesn’t give radio station licenses to people of bad character. Historically, [the FCC] has been reluctant to give broadcast licenses to people who advocate racially intolerant positions.”

Hundt added that it’ll take financial pressure for Snyder to change the team name and that Native Americans should petition the FCC to reconsider the use of the slur on broadcast radio and television.

“Unfortunately the team owner has been completely deaf to the public opinion – that he should get a new name for the team,” he said. “And the only way to get the team renamed is to inflict economic impact on Mr. Snyder. This is sad, but true. Therefore it’s a very good idea to ask that [FedEx] publically state that they don’t want their name on the stadium, associated with this derogatory racial slur. Only if money talks will [Snyder] walk away from the name.”

Native Americans have already begun efforts against FedEx’s association with Snyder and the Washington team.

Jacqueline Keeler, Navajo and Yankton Dakota writer and activist, launched a campaign on to encourage consumers to boycott FedEx until Smith divests from the team. The petition – aptly titled, “Pledge to Stop Using FedEx While They Still Quietly Support Washington ‘Redskins’ Shameful Mascot” – asks individuals not to patronize FedEx while it remains associated with the team.

“The idea that a company as large and ubiquitous as FedEx could support an overt slur of Native people and not experience any negative side effects shows how marginalized Native people are in this country,” Keeler wrote in a message to ICTMN. “This company would never become part owner in a team that bore the name of an offensive ethnic slur of any other group in this country.”

Smith, who is a shareholder of the Washington team, told CNBC host Kelly Evans that he doesn’t have a dog in the fight and was mum when asked if Snyder should change the team name.

“Well, first of all, let me answer that question from the standpoint of FedEx, which sponsors FedEx Field,” Smith said, according to USA TODAY. “We have a long-standing contract with Washington Football, Inc. The Redskins play at FedEx Field, but there are many, many other events there — the Rolling Stones, Notre Dame, Army and Navy football, Kenny Chesney. So that’s our sponsorship, and we really don’t have any dog in this issue from a standpoint of FedEx. From a personal standpoint, I’m a shareowner in the Redskins football team, but Mr. Snyder – who’s the majority owner – and the Redskins speak for the franchise,” he said.