At least 150 protesters, led by Amanda Blackhorse — the lead plaintiff in the trademark lawsuit that led to the cancellation of billionaire NFL owner Dan Snyder’s trademarks on the Washington football team’s name – gathered to protest the name Redskins in Glendale, Arizona, during Sunday’s NFL football game, Cardinals vs. Redskins.
The protesters began with a prayer led by Tohono O’odham elders and marched to University of Phoenix Stadium where luminaries like poet and writer Simon Ortiz (Acoma) spoke to the crowd about racism, colonization and against the use of Native people as mascots.
When Blackhorse spoke to the crowd, she said, “We are not here to fight amongst ourselves. We are not here to call them names or anything like that. We are here to raise awareness.”
ICTMN reported in an earlier story that Zuni Tribal Governor Arlen Quetawki Sr. would attend Sunday’s game as Snyder’s guest. Quetawki was allegedly given at least 250 tickets by Snyder for tribal members to attend, including Navajo students and staff from Red Mesa High School (whose mascot is also the Redskins).
The students were bused to the game courtesy of Mr. Snyder.
Snyder also hosted a tailgating party for his Native American guests, and Native people were seen heading to their seats with free Redskins jerseys, hats (some signed) and even children with other merchandise, which reportedly included iPads (ICTMN will follow up with a report). And Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly was in a private box seated next to Dan Snyder during a portion of the game. Attendees were also encourage to make signs stating their tribal affiliation and how they supported the Redskins.
Kenrick Escalanti, Quechuan brought his tribe’s lightening crew of young men to the protest. They experienced hateful comments by Redskins fans—even from a young 7-year old boy. When Escalanti told his parents that they were teaching their son to support racism, they were at first defensive, but later apologized. He said, “It’s like going back in time and seeing racism, Martin Luther King’s era, and seeing little kids who don’t know any better supporting racism.”
Navajo Nation councilman Joshua Lavar Butler and author of the Navajo Nation’s resolution against the Redskins name told ICTMN, “In light of today’s actions by my Nation’s president, I am sad to say that while disappointing, it is by no means surprising.
It brings to mind an astute observation by the celebrated writer Sherman Alexie, that when the Native community sees our own people supporting the Redskins team name, we must remember that Custer and Kit Carson also had their ‘Indian scouts.’
Jacqueline Keeler is a leader of EONM, one of the groups that participated in Sunday’s protests.