Effort to defend Redskins name continues to backfire
By Mike Florio
“In 1971, our legendary coach, the late George Allen, consulted with the Red Cloud Athletic Fund located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and designed our emblem on the Redskins helmets,” Snyder wrote. “Several years later, Coach Allen was honored by the Red Cloud Athletic Fund. On the wall at our Ashburn, Virginia, offices is the plaque given to Coach Allen—a source of pride for all of us.”
Apart from failing to mention that George Allen created the Red Cloud Athletic Fund, Snyder and/or his people also neglected to check with the group about its views.
In response to Snyder’s letter, the primary beneficiary of the Red Cloud Athletic Fund has denounced the ongoing use of the team name.
“As an organization, Red Cloud Indian School has never—and will never—endorse the use of the name ‘Redskins,’” leadership of the school wrote in a letter to the Washington Post. “Like many Native American organizations across the country, members of our staff and extended community find the name offensive.”
The group also contends that Snyder misrepresented the Red Cloud Athletic Fund’s role in the development of the team’s helmet logo.
“We call on Dan Snyder and managers to engage in further discussion with Native groups across the country and, ultimately, to move toward changing the name, once and for all,” the letter states.
So the people who gave that plaque to George Allen—the plaque that according to Snyder remains on the wall at the team facility as a source of pride—want Snyder to change the name.
By Maya Rhodan
The Oneida Indian Nation, which is leading the most recent charge for the team to change its name, said Sunday that said this incident joins a growing list of Snyder’s “examples of trying to rewrite the team’s history.”
“Mr. Snyder must set the record straight and immediately send a new letter to season tickets holders highlighting these misrepresentations and omissions,” Joel Barkin, a spokesman for the Oneida Nation, said in a statement. “Mr. Snyder should stop trying to rewrite history and instead rewrite his misleading and inaccurate letter and stop pretending that the targets of the R-word slur support his agenda.”
Representatives from the National Football League and the Oneida Indian Nation are scheduled to meet in late November.
As NMAI director Kevin Gover noted, it's amazing what lengths a football team will go to mythologize its origins. The team can't have picked its name out of a hat; the name has to be tied to the area's history and culture.
Below: Chief Zee, the unofficial Redskins mascot. (Alex Brandon/Associated Press)