Story at a glance

  • More than a dozen Native American leaders and organizations have asked for the Redskins team name to be changed.
  • Redskin is a derogatory term referring to Native American Indians.

Multiple Native American leaders and advocacy organizations have reportedly penned a letter to the National Football League (NFL) Commissioner Roger Goodell demanding Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder finally take steps to change the controversial mascot after years of pushback.

The Associated Press (AP), who obtained the letter, wrote that it was signed by 15 Native American advocates who “expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes, and organizations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples.”

While the NFL did not confirm to AP whether or not it has received the letter, it noted that the team is undergoing a “thorough review” of the team name and its effects. 

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Snyder has reportedly not considered altering the name of the team since he purchased it in 1999, until big sponsors like PepsiCo and Nike requested the change, per AP reporting.

The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest Native American advocacy group in the U.S., released a statement on July 3 regarding the NFL’s investigation, saying it is encouraged by the announcement. 

“This moment has been 87 years in the making, and we have reached this moment thanks to decades of tireless efforts by tribal leaders, advocates, citizens, and partners to educate America about the origins and meaning of the R-word,” said NCAI President Fawn Sharp in a prepared statement. “NCAI looks forward to immediately commencing discussions with the league and team about how they will change the team’s name and mascot, and a prompt timetable for doing so. Indian Country deserves nothing less. The time to change is now.”

President Trump, however, has remained unsupportive of the name change, tweeting that the NFL selects team names “out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington Redskins & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct.”

These changes come as aftershocks following the of George Floyd, a Black man who died at the hands of Minneapolis police. Since his death, demonstrations supporting strong civil rights and decrying institutional racism against people of color have dominated national dialogue, resulting in changes such as historical statues being removed, namely Confederate monuments, and public buildings being renamed, such as Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. 

Published on Jul 06, 2020