Edwards is well known in Indian Country for his law enforcement background. He recently retired from the U.S. Secret Service and serves as CEO of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association.
Edwards told The Washington Post that he has "no problem" with the team's racist mascot. He also said anyone who question the sincerity of owner Dan "Snyder is "uninformed."
"All you have to do is go back and look at the NFL and you’ve got to look at their diversity policy where it talks about respect, where it talks about inclusion, where it talks about opportunities for all people in America, to all races in America, and probably one of the ones that have been left out the most is Indian Country, and Dan, through this awareness of the surveys and the things going on, he realized, ‘Hey, we can do more,'" Edwards told the paper.
By Brent Schrotenboer
Gary Edwards, a Cherokee and retired member of the U.S. Secret Service, was hired to run the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, a charity created by team owner Daniel Snyder. The charity aims to assist Native Americans as Snyder continues to rebut criticism that his team's nickname is offensive.
"Even though I am a Vikings fan, I hope Dan Snyder does more background research on his team's potential draft picks than it appears he did on his foundation's CEO," U.S. Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), a co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, told USA TODAY Sports.
Edwards is CEO of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA), a nonprofit whose contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs was scrutinized in a report by the federal Office of Inspector General. The May 2012 report said that the NNALEA took advantage of the government in a contract that called for the NNALEA to help recruit "critically needed" law enforcement officers to work in Indian Country.
The government "received no benefit when they awarded a recruitment services contract to NNALEA, thus wasting almost $1 million," the report states.
The report says the NNALEA provided the government with 748 applications, "none of which were of use to" the Office of Justice Services, the report states.
By Theresa Vargas and Tom Jackman
This week, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder introduced Edwards—first in a letter to fans and then at a meeting with fellow National Football League team owners—as the head of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. The foundation, according to Snyder’s letter, “will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what tribal leaders tell us they need most.” Already, it has donated 3,000 coats to Native Americans and helped purchased a backhoe for a tribe.
On Tuesday, team General Manager Bruce Allen praised Edwards, a Cherokee and retired deputy assistant director of the U.S. Secret Service, on a Redskins.com video broadcast, saying, “I think we have the right leader in Gary Edwards.”
Edwards did not respond to attempts to reach him Thursday, but in a statement released through the team, he said his organization “believes it met and exceeded all of its obligations under the contract with the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ Office of Justice Services, and subsequently was paid after the contract was completed.”
By Gale Courey Toensing
Hare, like so many other Native Americans, was not thrilled at the announcement of Snyder’s OAF. She wrote, “I woke up to Dan Snyder's letter on my phone and the message: ‘Poverty Porn meets White Privilege in taking Cultural Appropriations to a whole 'nother level. Mind blowing... full inception.’”
The OIG’s investigation of Edwards’ contract with the BIA was aimed at finding out if the BIA’s Office of Justice Services (OJS) received the intended benefits by awarding a $1 million contract to NNALEA to provide 500 qualified Native American law enforcement applicants to serve in law enforcement positions on reservations. Qualified applicants had to meet legislative requirements, regulations and guidelines for employment of federal law enforcement officers, such as Indian preference, citizenship, age parameters and education.
The OIG’s May 9, 2012, investigation report came down hard on both the BIA and NNALEA. “We found that the OJS received no benefit when they awarded a recruitment services contract to NNALEA, thus wasting almost $1 million.”
“After the current Office of Justice Services (OJS) management became aware of the previous Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) Law Enforcement Recruitment Services Contract with the National Native American Law Enforcement Association (NNALEA), the issues that surrounded the failed contract award highlighted the need to improve the administrative guidance and support available to OJS management and field staff," the BIA said in a statement. "OJS has implemented several measures to ensure OJS staff have the appropriate guidance when developing future contracts and are adhering to the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR)."
For more on OAF, see Deconstructing Snyder's OAF Letter and Indian Country Scorns Redskins Foundation.