October 13, 2014

Natives protest Redskins in Phoenix

Protesters March Against Redskins; Snyder Still Wooing Natives

By Jacqueline KeelerAt least 150 protesters, led by Amanda Blackhorse--the lead plaintiff in the trademark lawsuit that led to the cancellation of billionaire NFL owner Dan Snyder’s trademarks on the Washington football team’s name--gathered to protest the name Redskins in Glendale, Arizona, during Sunday’s NFL football game, Cardinals vs. Redskins.

The protesters began with a prayer led by Tohono O'odham elders and marched to University of Phoenix Stadium where luminaries like poet and writer Simon Ortiz (Acoma) spoke to the crowd about racism, colonization and against the use of Native people as mascots.

When Blackhorse spoke to the crowd, she said, “We are not here to fight amongst ourselves. We are not here to call them names or anything like that. We are here to raise awareness."

ICTMN reported in an earlier story that Zuni Tribal Governor Arlen Quetawki Sr. would attend Sunday’s game as Snyder’s guest. Quetawki was allegedly given at least 250 tickets by Snyder for tribal members to attend, including Navajo students and staff from Red Mesa High School (whose mascot is also the Redskins).

Tears of Protest at Redskins Game and How Dan Snyder Caused Them

By Nicolet Deschine ParkhurstAs protesters marched on Maryland, a street north of the UOP stadium, game attendees were walking towards the stadium. The group chanted sound bites such as “Humans are not mascots,” “What do we want? Respect. When do we want it? Now,” “Hey-hey-ho-ho, redface has got to go,” “Game over for racism,” and “R-word is a dictionary defined racial slur.” This is because cognitive dissonance can shake up a person’s preconceived notion with new information that they may not have considered before, making a person rethink and potentially challenge their own position and way of thinking.

During the rally, the speakers–including Blackhorse and renowned Acoma poet and writer Simon J. Ortiz–touched on different aspects of the mascot issue, including the current legal environment surrounding the team’s trademark, and the history behind the 40-year fight and national efforts to educate the public.

Dennis Welsh, a councilman from the Colorado River Indian Tribes in Arizona and California, and treasurer of the National Congress of American Indians, explained how the issue is deeper than the team’s name.

He drew the links to racism, colonialism and the structure of oppression, and emphasized the negative impacts on the self-esteem of Native youth, and protecting Native culture and identity.

Our goal was to raise awareness, and we did, on national television to millions of viewers as reporters took note of the protest and controversial name.There were fans from the Cardinals and Washington teams who gave fist bumps, thumbs up, and spoke words of encouragement. One particular Washington fan engaged in a civil, educational exchange with advocates and later said he supported the cause, but that he wasn’t aware of the controversy until recently.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Navajo President Sits with Snyder and Redskins Fans Show Their "Respect."

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