Redskins Running With Native American Support

Photograph by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Washington Redskins fan ‘Chief Zee’ before a game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Redskins.

Some Native Americans are standing up for their heritage.

The Washington Redskins released a statement today showing support from the Native American community regarding the controversial team name.

According to the release, the Redskins organization received over 7,000 letters and emails from fans showing support for the team name, including almost 200 from Native Americans or families of Native Americans.

“As a family who is part Cherokee and Blackfoot, we wholly support the Washington Redskins. IT is the name and portrayal of the Native Americans who have been through so much over the decades, we not only feel it would be wrong to change the name of the team, but would also be doing a disservice as well,” wrote Elizabeth and Adam Bradshaw from Hampton, Virginia.

The letters followed owner Dan Snyder’s Oct. 9 letter to fans defending the team’s polarizing name.

“I’ve listened carefully to the commentary and perspectives on all sides, and I respect the feelings of those who are offended by the team name. But I hope such individuals also try to respect what the name means, not only for all of us in the extended Washington Redskins family, but among Native Americans too,” said Snyder.

“We cannot ignore our 81 year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country. After 81 years, the team name `Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come. We are Redskins Nation and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage,” concluded the much maligned owner.

The release comes on the same day that Sen. Maria Cantwell, a West Virginia Democrat, and Rep. Tom Cole, a Republican from Oklahoma, sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, expressing their disappointment in the NFL and commissioner’s stance on the Redskins team name.

“You have met with leaders of the National Congress of American Indians, an organization that represents more than 250 tribes and millions of Native Americans,” they wrote. “They aggressively support a name change as they find the Washington football name to be racially offensive. For you to pretend that the name is defensible based on decade-old public opinion polling flies in the face of our constitutionally protected government-to-government relationship with tribes.”

Cantwell and Cole concluded the letter by questioning the NFL’s and Washington Redskins’ status as a tax-exempt organization.

“The National Football League is on the wrong side of history. It is not appropriate for this multibuillion dollar 501(c)(6) tax-exempt organization to perpetuate and profit from the continued degradation of tribes and Indian people. It it time for the National Football League to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team,” they said in the letter.

Even with the recent support from the Native American community, the Redskins name change continues to garner attention, mostly bad, from lawmakers and fans alike.

With the historic name now bringing into question the tax status of the organization,bottom line, you have to ask how much is a name really worth? We might find out soon enough.



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