The Washington Redskins change the name debate continues.
“Letter To Everyone in our Washington Redskins Nation” from Dan Snyder, Owner and Chairman of the Board, Washington Redskins. Excerpt:
Several months ago I wrote you about my personal reflections on our team name and on our shared Washington Redskins heritage. 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.
So over the past four months, my staff and I travelled to 26 Tribal reservations [Editor’s math: 26 tribes = less than 5% of native nations*] across twenty states to listen and learn first-hand about the views, attitudes, and experiences of the Tribes. We were invited into their homes, their Tribal Councils and their communities to learn more about the extraordinary daily challenges in their lives.
I’ve listened. I’ve learned. And frankly, its heart wrenching. It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more.
As loyal fans of the Washington Redskins, I want you to know that tomorrow I will announce the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.
*[Editor’s note: there are more than 500 federal recognized native nations, not including state recognized nations, nor tribal communities without official US government recognition. See 500Nations.com and Bureau of Indian Affairs.]
Meanwhile in Indian Country, discourse continues.
Gyasi Ross’s “Hush Money and Ransom: An Open Letter to Dan Snyder, the Idiot” on Indian Country Today. Excerpt:
Here’s the thing: I, like a lot of other Natives, don’t give a damn about the Washington Redskins or mascots or any of that. There are absolutely MORE IMPORTANT things to worry about that MOST of the Natives who constantly complain about the Redskins and mascots (yet don’t live amongst other Native people or work in our communities) don’t see. That’s because MOST of those adamantly anti-mascot Natives don’t live within our communities (of course there are SOME who do live in our communities, but in our home territories, there are plenty of Native-themed mascots that a lot of us Natives love very, very much. We are proud of them and those folks who want to get rid of all Native mascots definitely don’t speak for us).
Adrienne K. (Native Appropriations) response to Gyasi Ross’ article. Excerpt:
…I don’t understand why we have to create the divide between “real Indians” who don’t care about mascots and those of us who do. The reason why many of us off-reservations (which is over 60% of Indian Country) care deeply about representations is because we are forced to deal with them everyday. Because we aren’t in our communities we can’t turn and see hundreds of counter-narratives and counter-representations in our aunties, cousins, our community events, or our ceremonies. What we see instead are the majority of Americans who think we’re fantasy creatures or extinct. They don’t know that our communities are full of joy and strength, because they don’t think we’re real.
Additionally, mascot issues, halloween costumes, and themed frat parties are things that happen on college campuses, so it’s often our Native students who are forced to confront them–and telling them that they’re somehow “less Indian” or “less connected” for caring about how their peoples are represented is the last thing they need as they already struggle far from home.