Tag Archives: Washington Redskins

Redskins to Drop Name, Yielding to Pressure From Sponsors and Activists

The N.F.L. team in Washington announced the move on Monday and will continue its search for a new name and logo.

The N.F.L. team in Washington announced Monday that it would drop its logo and “Redskins” from its name, yielding to sponsors and Native American activists who have long criticized it as a racist slur.

The team, one of the oldest in the N.F.L., did not announce a new name on Monday as it continues a review to evaluate possibilities.

“Today, we are announcing we will be retiring the Redskins name and logo upon completion of this review,’’ the statement said.

The decision to abandon the name after nearly 90 years came just 10 days after the team said it would reconsider the name. The team’s owner, Daniel Snyder, had stridently defended the name for years.

Snyder said the new name, when it was chosen, would “take into account not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise but also input from our alumni, the organization, sponsors, the National Football League and the local community it is proud to represent on and off the field.”

The decision to change the name by one of the country’s most valuable professional sports franchises comes after hundreds of universities and schools have abandoned team names and mascots with Native American symbols. Professional teams like the Kansas City Chiefs of the N.F.L. and the Atlanta Braves and Cleveland Indians of Major League Baseball have resisted changing their names and logos, though the Indians dropped the mascot Chief Wahoo last year and recently said they would review the team name.

Washington, though, has been in the spotlight, in part because of its long and checkered history. The team’s founder, George Preston Marshall, named the team the Redskins, which he considered a nod to bravery. Marshall was the last owner in the N.F.L. to sign a Black player, and only under pressure from the federal government.

Last month, Washington removed Marshall’s name from inside its stadium and at its training facility. The city of Washington also removed a tribute to him that was in front of the team’s old home, Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium.

Snyder’s shift from total resistance to grudging acceptance in just a few weeks has been remarkably swift in a league that often moves forward deliberately, if at all. But after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in late May, businesses of all kinds have come under pressure to increase diversity and change policies to emphasize antiracism.


At the end of June, some of the team’s biggest sponsors, including FedEx, Nike and Pepsi, received letters from investors who called on the companies to cut their ties with the team. On July 2, FedEx, which pays about $8 million a year to have its name on the team’s stadium in Landover, Md., told the Redskins in a letter that if the team did not change its name it would ask that its name be taken off the stadium at the end of the coming season.

The next day, July 3, the team said a change was likely to be forthcoming, when it began a “thorough review of the team’s name,” after weeks of discussions with the N.F.L. Nike stopped selling the team’s gear, and WalmartTarget and Amazon — some of the country’s largest retailers — said they would stop selling Washington’s merchandise on their websites.

The boycott came after decades of pressure on the team to change the name, which many people (and some dictionaries) consider to be offensive. In 1992, Native American activists began a campaign to compel the United States Patent and Trademark Office to cancel the team’s “redskin” trademark, a legal battle that the Supreme Court ended in 2017, finding that even potentially disparaging trademarks are protected by the First Amendment.

In 2014, 50 U.S. senators sent a letter to the N.F.L. urging the league to step in. And across the country, waves of universities and schools abandoned mascots and sports team names with Native American symbols.

But more than 2,200 high schools still use Native American imagery in their names or mascots, according to a database of mascot names.

All the while, Snyder, who purchased the Washington team in 1999, remained steadfast. “We will never change the name of the team,” he said in 2013, a stance he maintained even in the face of pushback from activists, politicians and some fans.

What finally changed was, seemingly, wider American society around the team. After the death of Floyd, there has been a widespread reconsideration of statues, flags, symbols and mascots considered to be racist or celebrating racist history.

Now that the team has let go of its current name, it will have to find a replacement, a process that requires navigating trademarks and the league’s many licensing deals with partners and can often take years. Teams also want to use the name, logo and even new colors to forge a new identity, a process that can include speaking with sponsors, fans and other constituents.

Ed O’Hara, who has designed team names and logos for more than 30 years, said that dropping the existing name first will buy time for Snyder to find a replacement. The team’s existing colors are unique and powerful, he said. A good name, though, should have an easy connection to a mascot, be easy to say and be connected to the market where the team plays.

“The name is always the hardest part,” he said. “You get one chance to make this right for the next 80 years.”

This report by Ken Belson and  was first published The New York Times on July 13, 2020.


California Bans Use Of Offensive ‘R’ Word, Drawing Praise From Native Americans



Officials from California high schools expressed disappointment Monday as prepared to do away with a mascot they see as historic and beloved – the Redskins – after the nickname was banned by a bill signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown.

California’s new law speaks to the larger national conversation surrounding the Washington Redskins and the mounting pressure on the NFL football team to change its name.

The ban will go into effect on Jan 1, 2017 to give schools in Merced, Calaveras, Tulare and Madera counties an adequate amount of time to phase out all the materials that bear the name and mascot.

The advocacy groups lauded California for “standing on the right side of history by bringing an end to the use of the demeaning and damaging R-word slur in the state’s schools”.

The wording of this opens the door for anyone at any time now and in the future to use this act to force a school to change its school name and mascot.

In California, proponents of the “Redskins” school mascot ban have cited a peer-reviewed study by researchers at the University of Arizona, Stanford University and the University of Michigan that found American Indian youth who were exposed to Native American mascots and stereotypical imagery reported a diminished sense of what they could achieve academically.

The four schools affected adopted their mascot years ago.

“I would say somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000, ‘ Weatherby said”.

A few superintendents said would abide by the law, even though they felt the governor should let local governments deal with the issue.

The schools have expressed the importance of having the community and students involved in picking a new mascot. I wanted to graduate as a redskin.

There was, also, an additional bill, that Governor Brown didn’t sign, that would have made similar demands on schools that use any manner of Confederate States of America names or imagery. Schools are not required to remove existing signs or fixtures by a certain date.

But how do native tribes in Calaveras County feels about the mascot change?

The law, he said, creates “an opportunity for Native youth to obtain an education free from mockery”.


S.D. tribe with Redskins ties accused of misusing funds

A crescent moon rises between lodges during the Kul Wicasa Pow Wow in Lower Brule, S.D., on Aug. 13, 2010. Between 2007 and 2013, $25 million in aid to the tribe is unaccounted for, according to Human Rights Watch. (Photo: (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader)

A crescent moon rises between lodges during the Kul Wicasa Pow Wow in Lower Brule, S.D., on Aug. 13, 2010. Between 2007 and 2013, $25 million in aid to the tribe is unaccounted for, according to Human Rights Watch.
(Photo: (Sioux Falls, S.D.) Argus Leader)

By: Jonathan Ellis | USA TODAY

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — The leaders of a South Dakota Indian reservation that supplied the Washington Redskins football team with popcorn at FedEx Field last season have been accused of misappropriating millions of dollars in a report released Monday by an international non-profit.

Between 2007 and 2013, an estimated $25 million that was intended for essential services, economic development and the alleviation of poverty on the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe was unaccounted for. Millions of dollars meant for specific programs were instead diverted to the tribe’s general fund and spent on “unexplained expenditures.”

Taxpayers, meanwhile, are on the hook for an additional $22.5 million in the form of a loan guarantee that the Bureau of Indian Affairs extended to a tribal company. Money from the loan guarantee, which was sold to an insurance company, was used for a tribal-owned Wall Street brokerage firm that went bankrupt amid mismanagement and fraud, according to the report.

The report, issued by Human Rights Watch, an international organization that investigates abuse, follows a two-year investigation by the group that included interviews with dozens of tribal members, the review of federal audits and other federal, state and tribal documents.

The report blames longtime Lower Brule Chairman Michael Jandreau and his political allies for diverting money and withholding basic government documents from the public to hide their activities.

Arvind Ganesan, the director of business and human rights for Human Rights Watch and the report’s author, called the situation at Lower Brule a “tragic example” of that happens when governments operate without transparency.

“For tribal governments, it’s an example of why it’s critically important that they have transparency and oversight,” said Ganesan.

Last year, the Washington Redskins made a deal with the tribe to sell the popcorn of a Lower Brule tribal company during games, part of owner Dan Snyder’s efforts to reach out to Native Americans amid controversy over the team name. Team spokesman Tony Wyllie confirmed that the popcorn was sold at FedEx Field, although he did not disclose the terms of the partnership.

The release of the Human Rights Watch report coincides with a power struggle between Jandreau, who has been tribal chairman 36 years, and reformers. Three reformers were elected to the six-member council in September, but Jandreau and the old council members have asked the tribal court to remove the new members.

Kevin Wright, one of the new council members, said the Human Rights Watch report raises serious questions about the tribe’s longtime leadership.

“It just reinforces why we need to get rid of the old council,” said Wright. “Mismanagement of funds — federal tax dollars — is a serious accusation.”

Jandreau did not return phone messages left for him last week. Tara Adamski, a lawyer in Pierre, S.D., who represents the tribal government as its general counsel, declined to comment.

“In speaking to my client, I’m not authorized to have any comment,” Adamski said.

Washington ‘Redskins’ fan flips off Navajo child during confrontational protest (Photo)

Native Americans and others protest the name and logo of Washington’s football team before Sunday’s game. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

By Black Powder | Red Power Media 

Last Sunday, more than 100 activists chanted, marched and waved signs on church property about one-third of a mile east of FedEx Field.  The demonstrators gathered in a grassy lot on the south side of Arena Drive, a road that thousands of tailgaters used to walk to the stadium for the game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Although the gathering drew less than half the crowd organizers had hoped for, it represented the largest protest of the Washington Redskins name that took place at a home game.

Police had surrounded the area with yellow caution tape, stationing officers on each side. Although confrontations never turned physical, they were frequently heated and profane.

Demonstrators held signs of protest — “NO HONOR IN RACISM,” “CHANGE THE NAME” — and displayed burgundy-and-gold T-shirts adorned with dissent: “RETHINK,” “REPLACE,” “RENAME.”

“We are people,” the crowd chanted. “Not your mascots.”

Most fans heading for the game ignored them. Others shouted back.

“It’s nothing personal,” one fan yelled. “You can’t change history,” said another.

A man with a sticker of an Indian head logo on his cheek said he didn’t understand: “They should be honored.”

“I’m so sorry that your feelings are hurt,” a woman shouted, while smiling. “We all have things to boohoo about.”

Tusweca Mendoza, an 8-year-old protester who lives in Arlington, Va., dared a fan to call him a Redskin. He didn’t.


The event was organized by a coalition of groups that have spoken out against the use of Native American imagery in sports. Organizations like the National Congress of American Indians, The National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media, and Change the Mascot have argued that such mascots dehumanize Native Americans, reducing them to racist stereotypes rather than real people facing real challenges. They say such imagery makes it harder for indigenous people to advocate for themselves, and also has direct effects on the psychological health of Native youth.

Activists have been pushing back against the Washington team name for years now, and some progress seems to have been made in the 2014 season. The largest protest in more than two decades was held in Minnesota in November, before Washington fell to the Minnesota Vikings in one of its 12 losses this year.

Public support for the use of the name has also been diminishing among a number oflarge news outlets, including The Huffington Post, as well as among several TV commentators. In June, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademarks, claiming the name is “disparaging to Native Americans.” An appeal is still pending.

Team owner Daniel Snyder has remained insistent that the name isn’t going anywhere. Earlier this year, he created a foundation intended to help indigenous communities, claiming that his team’s mascot wasn’t one of the “genuine” issues facing American Indians. As part of this broader argument, supporters of the team often point to Native Americans who say they aren’t bothered by the name as proof that the controversy is overblown.

But opponents of the team name argue that a lack of consensus among the nation’s 566 federally recognized tribes and millions of Native Americans does nothing to invalidate the objection. For many, the primary problem with organizations like Snyder’s is that they are built on Native stereotypes and mischaracterizations that contribute to a broader environment of disrespect for indigenous people. It’s this damaging attitude that allows many on the other side of the debate to deny Native Americans the simple request to be seen as equals in the eyes of their non-Native peers.

Opponents of the name have been working to take their fight deep into the postseason, even if the team itself has long been out of playoff contention. As Think Progress points out, the National Congress of American Indians and the Change The Mascot campaign have launched a fundraiser to create a new ad against the name. So far, they’ve raised more than $20,000, which will help pay for a digital campaign.

In anticipation of the Super Bowl earlier this year, the NCAI released a powerful 2-minute video called “Proud to Be” that spoke to the legacy of Native Americans and their communities today.

The groups plan to have a new video ready for the upcoming Super Bowl in 2015.