Native American leaders call for 'Redskins' name change

Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE

Once again, the nickname of Washington's beloved football team has come under fire.

The National Congress of American Indians wants the Washington Redskins to change their name.

In the following YouTube video, the NCAI makes its case for why the name is offensive to the individuals of NCAI and their constituency:


This is not the first time that the NCAI has pleaded with the franchise to alter its nickname, as evidenced by this USA Today piece which was published on Oct. 11 of this year.

In the article, the NCAI showcases its understanding of the organization's history in a 29-page report, one that current owner Dan Snyder likely wishes was different:

"There is one thing that we can agree with the Washington football team about — the name 'Redsk*ns' is a reflection of the team's legacy and history," NCAI executive director Jacqueline Pata said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the team's legacy and history is an ugly one."

Pata continued in the report:

"It is becoming more and more obvious," Pata said, "that the team's legacy on racial equality is to remain on the wrong side of history for as long as possible."

On Monday night during a timeout of the Redskins-49ers game, Snyder brought out Navajo code talkers of World War II, claiming he was paying homage to the Salute to Service Month the NFL is currently participating in. Yet, many believed it was a veiled attempt to win over popular opinion about whether the team nickname is fair or foul, per USA Today.

All of the code talkers stood on the field and some wore jackets with the Redskins' logo during the ceremony.

The Washington Redskins came into existence back in 1932, originally as the Boston Braves. However, the name would be changed in 1933 to avoid confusion with the baseball team to the Boston Redskins. In 1937, the team moved to Washington.

Owner George Preston Marshall, who gave the team it's current name, is also a huge factor in why this is such a hot-button issue. Marshall was a known racist, reviled by many for his refusal to include African-American players on his club. The Redskins would become the last NFL team to integrate in 1962, bringing Bobby Mitchell (a future Hall of Famer) into the mix.

Even that acquisition was made only to appease the United States government, which threatened Marshall repeatedly to bar the Redskins from playing at D.C. Stadium if the team remained all-white.

All of this brings the issues currently facing Snyder and his team full-circle. With the history of the organization undeniable, many have begun calling for change within the Native American community louder than ever before. However, Snyder appears unfazed by all the criticism being heaped onto his doorstep. In an open letter sent to Redskins fans earlier this year, Snyder included this, per USA Today:

"We are Redskins Nation," Snyder wrote in the letter that began arriving at the homes of season-ticket holders, "and we owe it to our fans and coaches and players, past and present, to preserve that heritage."

President Barack Obama has weighed in on the issue, saying if he was the team's owner he would be strongly considering a change, per the Associated Press.

"All these mascots and team names related to Native Americans, Native Americans feel pretty strongly about it," Obama told the Associated Press. "And I don't know whether our attachment to a particular name should override the real, legitimate concerns that people have about these things."

It will be very interesting to see where this discussion and debate goes throughout the winter.

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