SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) – A Native American tribe from South Dakota will return a $25,000 donation from a charitable arm of the NFL’s Washington team, saying the team name is “derogatory and inappropriate.”
The tribal council of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe voted Wednesday to return the check, which was issued last month by the team’s Original Americans Foundation to the tribe’s rodeo association.
“A lot of those in our community are opposed to accepting money from the R*dsk*ns, which to us is a racist organization; the term is derogatory and inappropriate,” said Ryman LeBeau, the tribe’s vice chairman and a councilman. “Their fans make a mockery of Indian culture, and that’s just wrong.”
The foundation was created in March 2014 by team owner Dan Snyder following intensifying calls by Native Americans and other groups for the team to do away with its name. The team has maintained that it is meant to honor Native Americans, though a federal judge in June ordered the team’s trademark registration be cancelled, saying there is ample evidence that the name may be perceived as disparaging. However, that ruling does not preclude the team from using the word.
It wasn’t immediately known how many tribes have received donations from the foundation, but team spokesman Maury Lane said the majority of tribes are happy to accept such help and typically put the money toward improving things like transportation, education and football camps.
“The Original American foundation has been working with more than 50 federally recognized tribes, spending millions of dollars on more than 250 projects on tribal lands,” Lane said. “Our mission remains to improve the quality of life on these lands without interfering with tribal governance.”
The Cheyenne Sioux’s fair and rodeo board had passed a motion to allow Tribal Chairman Harold Frazier to seek money from the foundation but hadn’t brought the check to council until this week, LeBeau said, adding that Frazier has met personally with Snyder and the charitable arm.
Included in the motion voted on this week is language that bans Frazier from “unsanctioned communication” with the team or any group or person associated with it. Messages left at Frazier’s office were not immediately returned.
LeBeau, who says the central South Dakota tribe has areas he feels need improvement, doesn’t think it’s right to accept money from an organization that many feel doesn’t support them.
“It just feels like they want to buy us off and keep us quiet,” he said, noting that he knew of only a few people in the approximately 16,000-member tribe supported accepting the check.
Lane maintained that the vast majority the foundation’s donations are well-received.
“This is definitely an anomaly,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah ousted a tribal chairwoman who was involved with the Original Americans Foundation for misconduct and ethical violations after accepting gifts of an autographed football and a trip to Washington, D.C., to attend a game in 2014.
The foundation also donated two vans to the tribe, which ex-chairwoman Gari Lafferty has said are used to transport children and elders. Lafferty has disputed the tribe’s allegations.
In South Dakota, LeBeau said the issue is preventing from the tribe from tackling larger issues like drug and alcohol abuse and suicides.
“This is just a (distraction) from working on the bigger solutions that will help our communities with the issues that are really affecting us, he said.”
The dictionary-defined pejorative ‘Redskins’ was mentioned 27-percent less during NFL broadcasts this season, according to reports.
Timothy Burke of Deadspinreportedthat announcers said the word 472 fewer times in the 2014-15 regular season.
Meanwhile, use of the word ‘Washington’ to identify the team slightly increased during broadcasts. In 2014, ‘Washington’ was mentioned 1,390 times. In 2013, it was mentioned 1,380.
The team itself has been mired in controversy over its use and defense of its name. In June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office stripped the team of six of its seven trademarks, finding the word to be “disparaging to Native Americans.”
Since then, a growing chorus of dignitaries, celebrities and former players have called on team owner Dan Snyder to change the name. Former Secretary of State and possible 2016 presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton called the team name “insensitive”, and even President Barack Obama said if he were the owner of the team he would consider changing the name.
Snyder said he will “NEVER” change the name.
On Dec. 28, The Washington PostAssociate Editor Bob Woodward predicted on FOX News Sunday that Snyder will sell the team this year to either Apple or Google.
“Danny Snyder, the owner of the Redskins, who’s had past success in business, will realize he’s part of the problem,” he said, “and he’s going to sell it; he’s going to sell the Redskins and the bidding war is going to be between Apple and Google. Think of it — the ‘Washington Apples’?”
WASHINGTON, Sept 30 (Reuters) – The Federal Communications Commission is considering whether to punish broadcasters for using the moniker of the Washington NFL team, the Redskins, a word many consider a slur to Native Americans, the agency’s chairman indicated on Tuesday.
The FCC, which enforces broadcast indecency violations, has received a petition from legal activist John Banzhaf III, asking that regulators strip local radio station WWXX-FM of its broadcasting license when it comes up for renewal for using the name “Redskins.”
Banzhaf says the word is racist, derogatory, profane and hateful, making its use “akin to broadcasting obscenity.”
“We’ll be looking at that petition, we will be dealing with that issue on the merits and we’ll be responding accordingly,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler told reporters.
“There are a lot of names and descriptions that were used over time that are inappropriate today. And I think the name that is attributed to the Washington football club is one of those,” Wheeler added.
The FCC could formally deem use of the team name to be indecent, and thus impose a de facto ban on it on over-the-air television and radio.
Despite protests, vigorous lobbying and even intervention from President Barack Obama, team owner Daniel Snyder has vowed not to change the name of his National Football League team.
Some TV football analysts, including CBS’ Phil Simms and Super Bowl-winning coach Tony Dungy, have said they will no longer use the term Redskins. On the other side, former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka, a Hall of Famer, says the issue is “so stupid it’s appalling.”
Half of the U.S. Senate asked the NFL to endorse a name change and the Washington Post editorial board has also said it will stop using the team’s name, although it will still be used in the rest of the paper, including the sports section.
In June, a panel of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademark registration because it considers its name and logo disparaging. The team has appealed the decision in federal court.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh; Editing by Ros Krasny and Dan Grebler)
The National Football League is obviously a hugely profitable enterprise. According to Forbes, its net revenues are more than $9 billion, more than any other sports league. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s pay package last year was reportedly $29.4 million. The teams make a lot of money, Goodell makes a lot of money, and the league has as much as it needs to spend, as evidenced by the $36 million it shelled out for its new New York City headquarters.
Yet according to the U.S. governement, the NFL is a nonprofit—and therefore not subject to taxes. Earlier today, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) announced that she will introduce legislation to revoke the league’s tax-exempt status due to its refusal to take action on the Washington Redskins name, which is defined in most dictionaries as a derogatory racial slur.
The league is promoting this racial slur with the resources of every team, including yours, which makes it a league-wide crisis. Indeed, Congress has granted the league tax exempt status and anti-trust exemptions, in part, because it is a singular American institution—one in which you are a financial stakeholder. That status provides you both the opportunity and obligation to act so that your own resources—and taxpayer resources—are no longer being expended to promote this slur.
Change the Mascot goes on to suggest that the NFL should put pressure on Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder. According to the NFL’s own bylaws, the league can take disciplinary action against any “owner, shareholder, partner or holder of an interest in a member club (who) is guilty of conduct detrimental to the welfare of the League or professional football.”
When Samuel Henry was a kid growing up in D.C. in the late 1950s, he and his friends were devoted Washington Redskins fans — they had the jerseys and knew the lore. And as the lore had it, the “reddish-brown tint” of paint on the team’s downtown D.C. headquarters came from the blood of Native Americans. “When I was a kid, me and my friends, we really thought that they had captured and killed Native Americans and pasted them all over the building,” Henry said. “We were just kids, we didn’t know any better. But we really, honestly believed that.”
Now, almost 60 years later, the Redskins are enmeshed in a debate about whether their name is a racist epithet and should be changed. Advocates for keeping the name reference its origins: In 1937, owner George Preston Marshall changed the team name from the Braves to the Redskins. Marshall said the change was in honor of the head coach at the time, William Henry Dietz, who claimed to be part Sioux (although that claim is suspect). Critics including Henry say its origins are irrelevant and that the name is racist and demeaning. “I’d love to see a boycott of all things Redskins,” he said.
Dan Snyder, the current owner, purchased the team in 1999, when it was fighting its first legal battle over the name. The lawsuits have continued, and earlier this year, the Trademark Trials and Appeal Board canceled the franchise trademark because “a substantial composite of Native Americans found the term Redskins to be disparaging.” Snyder has faced mounting pressure to change the name, even from President Obama and George Preston Marshall’s granddaughter. But Snyder plans to appeal the trademark decision and says he will “NEVER” change the name. Polling suggests Snyder has the backing to ignore the calls; most NFL fans (and Redskins fans in particular) oppose a name change.
What’s considered an outrage in the NFL is embraced or at least tolerated all over the country. While we’ve been consumed by the debate about the Washington Redskins, we’ve overlooked thousands of team names and mascots depicting Native Americans, often stereotypically. These teams are not feeling the kind of pressure that Snyder is. To understand the Washington Redskins, we have to understand the Estelline Redmen, the Natick Redmen, and the Molalla Indians, too.
Terry Borning, the proprietor of MascotDB, has kept a database of the nation’s mascots since 2006. He gathers his data from a variety of sources, including state high school athletic associations, websites and local newspapers. Borning’s database doesn’t have every high school, college and pro team in the country, but it does have 42,624 of them. Looking at MascotDB is as close as we can get to understanding how prevalent Native American team names and mascots are across the country.
“There were a lot of interesting mascots where I lived growing up,” Borning said. “But those have mostly fallen by the wayside. Some of those things of the past were definitely offensive, but also more interesting than the generic mascots we have now.”
I searched the database and found 2,129 sports teams that reference Braves, Chiefs, Indians, Orangemen, Raiders, Redmen, Reds, Redskins, Savages, Squaws, Tribe and Warriors, as well as tribe names such as Apaches, Arapahoe, Aztecs, Cherokees, Chickasaws, Chinooks, Chippewas, Choctaws, Comanches, Eskimos, Mohawks, Mohicans, Seminoles, Sioux and Utes. (Not all teams with the names “Raiders” and “Warriors” are referencing Native Americans, but we spot-checked 20 schools with each name and a majority of each did.)
Some 92 percent of those 2,129 team names belong to high schools (the rest were college, semi-pro, pro and amateur league teams). Of all the active high schools in the database, 8.2 percent have Native American team names.
I reached out to about a dozen of those high schools, and most didn’t want to comment on a controversy that hadn’t yet arrived. But the conversations I did have suggested that the way communities regard their teams’ Native American names and mascots depends on the makeup of the communities themselves.
Estelline High, home of the Redmen, is located in a small town in South Dakota, 24 miles west of the Minnesota border. South Dakota has the third-largest Native American population share in the country, but Estelline hasn’t seen the kinds of protests directed at the Washington Redskins. The town has experienced little, if any, controversy over the Redmen name.
The mascot dates back to sometime between 1915 and 1920, when a local newspaper referred to the Estelline athletic team by the color of its uniforms — “the men in red.” The name wasn’t officially adopted, but the team soon became known by its unofficial moniker, the Redmen. According to Estelline superintendent and high school principal Patrick Kraning, the association with Native Americans didn’t come until around 1930. Estelline followed with its own depiction of a “Redman” as a stereotype of a Native American chief wearing a headdress. Events such as the annual naming of a “Moon Princess” and “Big Chief” at homecoming became part of the tradition.
“There’s been very little controversy over the team name,” Kraning said. “In the ’90s there was some discussion about changing the name for a series of schools [throughout southeastern South Dakota] that still referred to themselves as ‘Redmen.’ But in the end, a lot of us — Estelline included — decided to keep the name and just keep away from any Native American imagery associated with it.”
Since then, the only symbol associated with the Estelline Redmen is a logo of an E with two feathers attached. Kraning believes that this change, combined with the fact that Estelline doesn’t have a significant Native American population, is why there hasn’t been much local debate on the topic.
“There’s a community feeling that since the origin of the nickname was not a Native American reference, there’s not a desire for change,” he said. “If there were a discussion, most people would probably view it as going against 80 or 90 years of tradition.”
Natick, Massachusetts, did go against tradition. In 2007, the school board dropped its high school mascot — also the “Redmen” — after an alumna of Native American descent came to the board and said she was offended by the activities surrounding the team she had experienced at Natick High School. The historian for the local Nipmuc tribe told me that the logo and mascot used by the school depicted a “stereotypical northern Native with a headdress,” but that depiction bore no resemblance to the actual indigenous people who lived in the Natick area. Nevertheless, protest groups soon sprouted up, claiming that the Natick Redmen honored Native Americans and were an important tradition.
Soon after the change, school board meetings and a town-wide referendum turned the issue into a much broader discussion. The main critique came from the Redmen Forever Committee, a self-described grassroots effort that sought to influence the non-binding referendum. “We added a question to the referendum asking if townspeople wanted the Redmen name restored,” said Erich Thalheimer, co-founder of the Redmen Forever Committee. “It won overwhelmingly, but the school committee didn’t abide by the town’s wishes.”
“If it were decided by popular vote, we would have the name,” said Anne Blanchard, a member of the Natick School Board. “But we had to take into account our nondiscrimination policy, as well as minority and majority interests.”
The Redmen Forever Committee says it won’t give up the fight. “We chose the name of our committee very intentionally, very purposefully,” Thalheimer said. “This is our town. We’re going to live here until we die. We will forever try to re-establish the Redmen name.”
While the controversy in Natick stemmed from a decision that affected one school, several states have taken a grievance from a single school and used it to forbid Native American mascots. One of the more sweeping bans so far was implemented with the help of Samuel Henry, the man who grew up earnestly believing that the Washington Redskins had painted their downtown D.C. headquarters with the blood of Native Americans. Henry is currently the chair of Oregon’s Board of Education, which instituted a statewide ban on Native American mascots and team names in 2012.
The story goes back to 2006, when Che Butler, a member of the Siletz tribe and a student at Taft High School, raised the issue before the board. Butler said he was offended by the stereotypical and inauthentic manner in which the mascot of a rival school, the Molalla Indians, portrayed Native Americans. He and fellow Taft student Luhui Whitebear, a member of the Coastal Band of the Chumash Tribe, made a presentation at a board meeting asking for a statewide ban on mascots that “misrepresent” Native people, who instead “should be represented with true honor and respect.”
According to Henry, the board agreed that “having Native American mascots did not seem like a good idea,” but decided to defer the decision.
The grievance was taken up again six years later, when the director of public instruction decided to put it back on the board’s agenda. This time around, after some member turnover, the board agreed to ask its chief attorney to draft a proposal for a ban on the use of Native American mascots in public schools. The only dissenting vote came from a woman who claimed that it was too selective, and that devils and saints should be banned as well.
As in Natick, one of the major arguments against the ban came from people who said that the mascots didn’t disparage Native Americans, but honored them. Many of these opponents knew little of Native American culture, Henry said. “I asked one of the students who made that argument what the name of the local Native American tribe was, and she didn’t know,” he said. “To me, that indicated that her reliance on saying that they were honoring Native Americans — that the support for that argument was pretty thin at best.”
For high schools, a statewide ban is about as sweeping as it gets. Graduate to the next level, though, and schools have broader authorities to answer to. In 2005, the NCAA implemented its own de facto ban1 on Native American mascots for all NCAA colleges.2 The ban focused on a specific list of schools whose mascots were deemed “hostile or abusive,” and precluded them from participating in postseason play if those nicknames or mascots appeared on any team uniforms or clothing.
The NCAA had already taken a stand on a similar issue: the use of Confederate flags. In 2001, the organization banned arenas in South Carolina and Mississippi from hosting postseason championships because the Confederate flag flew proudly on their statehouse grounds. After that decision, the president of St. Cloud State University in Minnesota asked the NCAA to impose a ban on Native American mascots.
The NCAA called on 18 schools (out of 1,046 total member schools at the time, or 1.7 percent) to drop their mascots.
Not all of the targeted schools felt that their nicknames or mascots were “hostile or abusive,” and the ban was followed by a surge of criticism.
“I must have gotten 2,000 emails from people just complaining about it,” the NCAA’s executive committee chairperson at the time, Walter Harrison, said. Even almost 10 years later, he still remembers one persistent caller. “He, or she, I don’t know if it was a man or a woman, would call my office phone at four in the morning and just play their school’s chant until the answering machine cut off,” he said.
But the more serious backlash came in the form of appeals. One came from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and its Fighting Illini. The Fighting Illini were portrayed at halftime performances by a student dressed in full Lakota regalia, including face paint and a headdress. He went by the name “Chief Illiniwek,” and became the focus of the university’s fight against the ban.
Controversy surrounding Chief Illiniwek predated the NCAA’s ruling by decades. The university’s board of trustees had been quietly in the process of considering a potential mascot change since 2001, and the publicity surrounding the nationwide ban reignited already-existing tension among students and alumni. Lawrence Eppley, who was the chair of the university’s board of trustees at the time, said he received hundreds of comments from foundations and alumni organizations threatening to withhold donations. He and the rest of the board figured the only option was to strike a compromise to keep both sides — passionate students and alumni and the NCAA — happy.
Through its appeal, the school was allowed to keep its team name, but not its mascot. Chief Illiniwek portrayers, who had been a part of an official student organization called the Council of Chiefs, could continue the tradition as long as the group no longer had any official affiliation with the university. “One of the things that made it tough to retire it was making sure the fans knew that, if you loved the chief, that was nothing to feel guilty about,” Eppley said. “It’s just that times change, and there’s not much we can do about that.”
Ivan Dozier, who currently portrays Chief Illiniwek, said that officially retiring the mascot was the wrong way for the university to respond. He believes that Native American mascots are a way to reach and educate an audience that wouldn’t normally be knowledgeable about Native American culture or history. “What concerns me is if you eliminate all references to Native American culture, people aren’t asking questions anymore,” he said. “Sports fans here are the vocal majority. They’re the ones who need this information the most, and now they have no way to go about getting it.”
Eight of the schools on the NCAA’s list secured vocal support from local Native American tribes to successfully appeal and retain their team names and mascots. Eight others have changed their names and one dropped the use of a mascot entirely. Carthage College changed its team name from the Redmen to the Red Men and dropped all Native American imagery, which satisfied the NCAA’s requirements.
Turning the Washington Redskins into the Red Skins is unlikely to appease the team’s critics, though. Given that the name is racist by definition and no tribe has come out in support of Snyder, it probably wouldn’t pass the NCAA’s grounds for appeal, and it certainly doesn’t pass in the court of Native American opinion.
But even if the Redskins became the Red Skins or the Red Flyers or the Red Snyders, there would still be thousands of other teams that reference Native American imagery. Whatever happens with the Redskins, there will still be the Estelline Redmen, Chief Illiniwek, and the West Texas Comanches, each upholding the questionable legacy of Native American sports names.
The Fort Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) Tribe listened to an offer Wednesday from Washington NFL team owner Daniel Snyder’s foundation to build a memorial skate park on its reservation, according to tribal member Kenrick Escalanti, who attended two meetings with foundation representatives at the tribal administration building on the Arizona-California border.
“They told us it wouldn’t cost us a thing, that we wouldn’t have to say anything and we wouldn’t have to support” the franchise’s controversial team name, Escalanti told USA TODAY Sports. “They said they were not asking for an endorsement or a photo op, they just wanted to help. But if you know their track record, we didn’t really believe that. â?¦ We know bribe money when we see it. ”
Escalanti, president of Kwatsan Media Inc., said his organization, which is leading a drive to build a skate park, has turned down the offer from the team’s Original Americans Foundation. Tribal administrator Vernon Smith said the tribe has not reached a decision on whether to ask more questions of the foundation or to leave the offer on the table.
“We just listened politely and said we’d think about it,” Smith said. “They told us there would be no stipulations, but I have heard otherwise from other tribes who have received things from them.”
The foundation was represented by executive director Gary Edwards and director Karl Schreiber, plus a park designer, according to Escalanti. “They showed us digital renderings of a skate park and what struck me was the designs were all in burgundy and gold,” Escalanti said. Those are the colors of the Washington NFL team.
The team issued this statement from the foundation: “Tribal leaders from the Fort Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) Tribe invited and met with staff from the Original Americans Foundation to discuss projects that needed funding in Yuma. The conversation centered around eight projects that the tribe requested assistance for projects that improved their quality of life and at no time during our on-site discussion did the tribe object to working with our foundation.
“We are very proud of the more than 145 projects in partnership with 40 tribes that we have worked on and will continue to do what we can for those in need. We will maintain our foundation’s policy of not disclosing our private conversations with tribal leaders.”
A team spokesman said a statement from the foundation would be released later today.
Escalanti’s description of the two meetings, which together lasted nearly an hour, open a window on the nonprofit announced by Snyder in March to help Native American causes. Foundation reps told the tribe that they have 147 projects lined up involving about 40 tribes across the country. Escalanti said the reps added that about 100 tribes, including his, have participated in a survey concerning their needs.
Escalanti said no dollar amount was mentioned, but he said the budget for the planned Quechan Memorial Skatepark is $250,000 and “they offered to build it, like a blank check.” Kwatsan Media Inc., a nonprofit that runs a radio station, is accepting donations for the skate park, which will be dedicated to suicide prevention in Native youth.
“When we told them the skate park would be dedicated to fallen Native youth, you could see their eyes open up big, like they could smell good PR,” Escalanti said. “And that really irritated me.”
The first meeting with tribal leaders, including three council members, lasted about 20 minutes and the second with Kwatsan Media about 30 minutes, according to Escalanti, who attended both. Smith said he was able to attend part of the first meeting.
One council member asked foundation reps why the team cares about Native American causes now, Escalanti said. “Edwards said they always cared and this is not an issue of the (team) name,” Escalanti said. “He said the reason it comes up now is the team and the NFL have a diversity policy and they are trying to live by that.”
The foundation representatives said they have helped tribes already with backhoes, jackets and boots, according to Escalanti, who said the reps “kept name-dropping tribe after tribe, and president after president, even though they were promising us we could have the skate park and nobody had to know” where the money came from.
Edwards addressed the team name issue, according to Escalanti: “He said he is a proud ‘redskin’ and that the controversy is a non-issue. He said it is inaccurate to call it a slur. He said the name stands for pride, courage and intelligence. And he said people who oppose the name are part of a white, liberal agenda.”
Escalanti said that Edwards made an impassioned plea for Native American strength against white aggression: “The last words he said to us were, ‘We need to get stronger, because if we don’t, they will annihilate us.'”
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, cbssports.com/nfl/eye-on-football/24610931/blogger-hired-to-defend-redskins-name-re-signs-after-two-weeks
**Redskins foundation head drew criticism in I.G. report, 3.17.14,
***Washington’s blogger-turned-lobbyist faces scrutiny, 7.8.14, http://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2014/07/06/washingtons-blogger-turned-lobbyist-faces-scrutiny/
Source: Oneida Nation Homelands (NY) (PRWEB) June 10, 2014
During halftime of tonight’s NBA Championship game, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation is airing a segment from the powerful TV ad called “Proud to Be,” which was produced by the National Congress of American Indians. The ad celebrates Native American culture and underscores their opposition to the use of the dictionary-defined R-word slur.
At halftime of tonight’s Game 3 of the NBA Championship, the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation will air in seven major T.V. markets a 60-second version of the National Congress of American Indians’ Proud To Be ad, which celebrates Native American culture and opposes the racist name of Washington, D.C.’s NFL team. This is the first time the ad has aired on television, and it is being run in order to educate the general public about Native American opposition to the R-word. The ad is airing in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. after airing in Miami during halftime of Game 2 on Sunday night.*
The advertisement highlights the defining and distinguished characteristics, names and legacies of many Native American tribes throughout the United States. But as the video clearly states, there is one denigrating term which Native peoples never use to describe themselves: R*dskin.
As Chairman Marshall McKay of Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation underscored in a message posted to YouTube: “The R-word is as derogatory a slur as the N-word. When this name first came to be, it was a vehicle for people to bring the victims of violence into an office so they could collect a bounty. I think the Change the Mascot campaign will shed some well-deserved light on the trauma and the disadvantaged people on reservations and throughout the country that are Native American that really haven’t had this opportunity to talk about the pain and the anguish that this kind of racism puts us through.”
James Kinter, Tribal Secretary of Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation also stated in the video: “The Change the Mascot movement is larger than Yocha Dehe or any one tribe. It’s about all tribal people and non-tribal people raising their voices in protest.”
In a joint statement, NCAI Executive Director Jackie Pata and Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter said: “We applaud the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation for having the vision and commitment to ensure that the American public receives the message loud and clear that Native Americans strongly oppose the use of this disparaging slur. Contrary to the team’s absurd claims, this dictionary-defined racial epithet does not honor our heritage. The Change the Mascot campaign continues to gather strength every time that people are educated about the origin of the R-word and its damaging impact on Native peoples. By airing this ad during the NBA Championships, the message will be brought into the living rooms of millions of American all across the country.”
The moral and civil rights issue of the team’s unapologetic use of a dictionary-defined slur has come to the forefront of American consciousness more than ever in recent weeks. Half of the U.S. Senate recently signed a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell urging a change for the D.C. team’s mascot. Shortly thereafter, 77 leading Native American, civil rights and religious organizations representing millions of Americans wrote to every player in the league asking them to stand up against the team’s use of a racial epithet as a mascot.
*Anti-Redskins ad to air during NBA Finals, 6.10.14, washingtonpost.com/local/anti-redskins-ad-to-air-during-nba-finals/2014/06/10/9808a964-f058-11e3-bf76-447a5df6411f_story.html.
The Notah Begay III Foundation pulled its support from this weekend’s Arizona golf tournament to benefit scholarships for Native American students when it learned the title sponsor was the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.
“I find it underhanded and despicable that the Washington football team would co-opt this event,” Crystal Echo Hawk, NB3 foundation executive director, told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday. “As soon as we found out about their involvement we withdrew our support.”
Begay, a four-time PGA Tour winner and an analyst with the Golf Channel, is Navajo, Isleta Pueblo and San Felipe Pueblo. He is a longtime critic of the Washington team name, which he called “a very clear example of institutionalized degradation” on ESPN last year.
Echo Hawk, who is Pawnee, said the NB3 Foundation was asked in February to donate silent auction items for a golf tournament to be held in Chandler, Ariz., this month; the foundation donated golf apparel.
When she found out Friday that Saturday’s event was sponsored by the NFL team’s foundation, she called the radio station that asked for the donation. Echo Hawk spoke to Tony Little, general manager of Arizona radio station KTNN, and demanded that NB3’s name be removed from the event officially called the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (OAF) 1st Annual KTNN Celebrity Golf Tournament.
“The NB3 Foundation does not support the Redskins or its organization OAF,” NB3 said in a statement. “We are adamantly opposed to the team’s continued use of this derogatory name.”
Echo Hawk said she believed OAF came in as title sponsor very recently. She said she asked Little how much money the football team’s foundation paid for that but that he couldn’t talk about it.
The Washington football team did not immediately return a message asking for comment. KTNN’s Little also did not immediately return a message asking for comment.
The National Indian Gaming Association, a nonprofit that includes 184 Indian nations as members, pulled its sponsorship Friday after learning of the involvement of the football team’s foundation, as reported by USA TODAY Sports that day.
Ernest Stevens, chairman of the gaming association, said his organization finds the team name offensive and he criticized team owner Daniel Snyder for starting the foundation.
“It’s a blatant attempt to try to buy out the issue,” Stevens said.