By Ernest L. Stevens, Jr.
Our mission is to uphold sovereignty and increase the self-reliance of our Native people. We are an organization of 184 member tribes entrusted to ensure there is a strong tribal presence here in Washington, D. C. to protect the Indian Gaming Industry. We have a strong commitment to our tribes and will continue to do so.
This issue provides us with another opportunity to help educate America so that we can grow out of the negative stereotypes of the past. Being separate, diverse groups of people with beautiful cultural traditions and beliefs makes us unique and distinct from one another, in a very positive sense. It adds to the fabric of the creation, allowing honor and respect for all things. This is the kind of harmony and appreciation we need to strive for every day.
To ensure the integrity of our 30-year-old association and our tribal nations, we have pulled our sponsorship from this golf tournament, which has just recently announced a partnership with the newly created Washington football team's Original Americans Foundation. When we agreed to be a sponsor to benefit Native American College Scholarships and Youth there was no mention of the involvement of the Washington football team.
By Jacqueline Keeler
"I am also alarmed at the underhanded way this event was handled. The other funders were unaware of the Washington Redsk*ns OAF involvement until the day before and Ben Shelley has repeatedly refused to comment on his meeting with Snyder. It feels like the Navajo people have been hoodwinked into supporting racism and have dragged other national American Indian organizations through the mud in the process. This fundraising to cover the use of a racist slur by a billionaire takes away from the fundraising efforts of legitimate American Indian foundations and takes needed money away from them. It is a travesty."
More on how the controversy unfolded:
Snyder's Redsk*ns Hush Money and KTNN's Questionable Behavior
By Nicholet Deschine
Why would KTNN, “The Voice of the Navajo Nation,” accept a sponsorship from a controversial foundation whose name is a racial slur? Why is KTNN not following FCC broadcasting rules on the use of racial epithets? Why is the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President co-sponsoring an event with the Redsk*ns, even after legislation was introduced in the Navajo Nation Council opposing the NFL team’s moniker? How long has the sponsorship deal between KTNN, the Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President, and the Redskins been in place? How aware were other donors of the fundraiser’s affiliation with the Redsk*ns foundation?
Adding to my disbelief was seeing known anti-Redsk*ns organizations co-sponsoring the event. The Washington Redsk*ns golf tournament was a fundraiser to benefit Native American college scholarships and was co-sponsored by Navajo Engineering Construction Authority, Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise, Navajo Nation Office of President and Vice President, National Indian Gaming Association, and Dixon Golf. Many other organizations such as the Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Diamondbacks, Arizona State University, and the Notah Begay III Foundation also donated silent auction items. An even more surprising co-sponsor of the event was the Navajo Nation’s Office of the President and Vice President. Shocking because the Navajo Nation Council was considering legislation opposing the Redsk*ns name, this was introduced on March 14, 2014 by Council Delegate Joshua Lavar Butler.
From a quick Internet search, I learned that although KTNN created a Facebook event on March 13 and marketed the event on March 21, they failed to mention the event’s title sponsor. In fact, the only mention of the OAF was on the event webpage and the flyer. Curious as to how aware sponsors and donors (especially those organizations who are anti-Redsk*ns) were made of the OAF’s involvement, I began notifying organizations. By Friday April 11, two donors, the National Indian Gaming Association and the Notah Begay III Foundation, withdrew their sponsorship of the event because of ties to the Redsk*ns name. Both organizations said they were unaware of the Redsk*ns’ involvement and would never have donated had they known. Likewise, on Saturday, April 12, the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise issued a statement indicating they would have declined sponsorship had they known of the Redsk*ns involvement, “We deeply regret not being told of the Washington Redsk*ns involvement in advance of today’s tournament.”
The actions of these three organizations could mean a few things: 1) The Washington Redsk*ns were a last-minute sponsor to strategically place themselves on the same event as Indian organizations who oppose the NFL team’s moniker, and/or 2) KTNN, aware of the Washington Redsk*ns sponsorship, lacked insight on the controversy and didn’t care to inform other donors. The event flyer I received was dated April 3, 2014 proving that, at minimum, KTNN had at least one week to notify other donors (this assumes the title sponsorship was accepted at a last moment which casts further unfavorable light on the Redskin’s attempt to purposefully taint the event). The actions and lack of action from KTNN’s leadership raises concern about the organization’s leadership, ability to recognize potential controversy, and their ability to actively communicate with their sponsors and, more importantly, with the public.
Navajo Navajo President slams the National Indian Gaming Association
For more on the controversy, see Sponsors Quit Redskins Golf Tournament and Navajo Nation Condemns "Redskins" Name.