By Brent Schrotenboer
The National Indian Gaming Association, a nonprofit that includes 184 Indian nations as members, made the decision to pull its sponsorship Friday after learning that the Redskins foundation was involved in the same event. Ernest Stevens, chairman of the National Indian Gaming Association, said his organization finds the NFL team's name to be offensive and is skeptical about the motives of the foundation recently started by Redskins owner Daniel Snyder.
"It's a blatant attempt to try to buy out the issue," Stevens told USA TODAY Sports.
The celebrity golf tournament in Chandler, Ariz., is to benefit Native American college students. Likewise, the stated mission of Snyder's foundation is to improve the lives of Native Americans. But some questioned whether Snyder started the foundation as a way to deflect criticism over his team's name.
Washington Redskins foundation loses another event sponsor
By Erik Brady
"I find it underhanded and despicable that the Washington football team would co-opt this event," Crystal Echo Hawk, NB3 foundation executive director, told USA TODAY Sports on Sunday. "As soon as we found out about their involvement we withdrew our support."
Begay, a four-time PGA Tour winner and an analyst with the Golf Channel, is Navajo, Isleta Pueblo and San Felipe Pueblo. He is a longtime critic of the Washington team name, which he called "a very clear example of institutionalized degradation" on ESPN last year.
Echo Hawk, who is Pawnee, said the NB3 Foundation was asked in February to donate silent auction items for a golf tournament to be held in Chandler, Ariz., this month; the foundation donated golf apparel.
When she found out Friday that Saturday's event was sponsored by the NFL team's foundation, she called the radio station that asked for the donation. Echo Hawk spoke to Tony Little, general manager of Arizona radio station KTNN, and demanded that NB3's name be removed from the event officially called the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation (OAF) 1st Annual KTNN Celebrity Golf Tournament.
"The NB3 Foundation does not support the Redskins or its organization OAF," NB3 said in a statement. "We are adamantly opposed to the team's continued use of this derogatory name."
By Gale Courey Toensing
The OAF’s involvement was discovered Friday on a flyer on KTNN’s website showing the OAF as the event’s primary sponsor and featuring NIGA, NB3 Foundation and the NNGE as other sponsors. NIGA and the NB3 Foundation immediately withdrew their participation and demanded that their names be removed from the publicity materials. The NB3 Foundation is a charitable organization that funds programs aimed at improving Native American health. NIGA is a non-profit organization that represents 184 tribal nations and advocates for Indian gaming in Washington and elsewhere, but it also provides scholarships for Native students through its own of Sovereignty Foundation and through donations to events like the golf tournament.
The event page on KTNN's website has been edited to reflect the lost sponsors.
“The Washington Redskins have found themselves an Indian,” NIGA Chairman Ernie Stevens Jr. said, referring to OAF Executive director Gary L. Edwards (Cherokee), “and through this Indian they’re going to try to buy off Indian country and attempt to convince Indian country that something so racist and so horrible [as the Redskins name] is okay and good. Indian country is not for sale and all the scholarships in the world are not going to buy an allegiance to racism.”
“This is wrong. I urge a reversal of this decision. Give the money back. Accepting this disgusting symbolism dishonors all of our Native people who died as the hands of those who used the symbol and pursued policies and practices of extermination! Shame on KTNN!” Shabah Nez wrote.
“Boycott KTNN!” Winona Dawn wrote.
Comments soon began to disappear from the page, as Nicholet Deschine noted. “Two sponsors have already withdrawn support from this event when KTNN only had to decline one sponsor, the Redsk*ns. The act of adding the Redsk*ns on as a sponsor at the last moment (or hiding the info from other sponsors), the withdrawal of sponsors who do not want involvement with the Redsk*ns, KTNN deleting comments on the FB page, RAISES concern on the intent of KTNN and the Redsk*ns to USE the guise of raising scholarship funds to further the Redsk*ns own agenda.”
So the Redskins foundation (OAF) was the title sponsor? With a bold headline and an entire panel on the flyer? And presumably a large amount of signage at the event itself?
And no one thought to mention that to the other participants? Despite Indian country's well-known sensitivity, to put it mildly, to the ethnic slur? No one thought to ask if they were cool with supporting the Washington Redskins First Annual Golf Tournament?!
Sounds like KTNN, the Navajo president's office, or whoever arranged this event got the scorn they deserved. Talk about a PR nightmare. The organizers sabotaged the event's credibility, if not the event itself, by lying about its provenance.