Daniel Snyder, the owner of the Washington NFL team recently called on people to “focus on reality” and in discussing his Original Americans Foundation said “I think it tells you that we did our homework – unlike a lot of people.” Snyder further stated “We understand the issues out there, and we’re not an issue” referring to the NFL team’s name, the Redskins.
Daniel Snyder, exactly, who are these people who didn’t do their homework and what homework didn’t they do?
What you are stating is that I, as a Lakota and Diné woman, do not have the experience or knowledge to speak about the racism I have encountered that is a result of stereotypes, which your team’s name contributes towards.
What you are stating is that I and Native People don’t have the right to be a part of the conversation that involves our identity as indigenous people.
What you are stating is that Native People are incapable of identifying the issues that affect our own communities.
You have stated that people need to focus on reality.
Daniel Snyder. The reality is you continue to minimize the knowledge and experience that Native people have by inferring we don’t know what we are talking about and that we don’t know what issues our communities face. The reality is that Native people are the best source for identifying the issues that concern their own communities. One such person, Amanda Blackhorse, a Dine woman, is taking lead to void your team’s trademark through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, on behalf of countless others who identify racial slurs of Native people as contributing towards the societal issues our people face.
The reality is that racism exists. The reality is the term redskins perpetrates negative stereotypes, is demeaning to Native people’s cultures, and the continued use of the term is disrespectful and outdated. The continued use of caricatures and racial slurs of Native people undermine our unique, distinct cultures and identify. The reality is that a multitude of national organizations, such as the National Congress of American Indians and The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, support you changing the team’s name.
There does need to be a focus on reality and this starts with you realizing the reality at hand is there is an increasing voice supporting you to change the name.
Nicholet Deschine, Hunkpapa Sioux/Diné, holds a Master of Social Work and is currently studying public administration. Nicholet is a member of the grassroots organization Eradicating Offensive Native Mascotry.