October 13, 2014

Navajo president sits with Snyder

Deadspin was the first to report perhaps the most interesting aspect of Sunday's Redskins game:

Disgraced, Soon-To-Be-Former Navajo Nation President Attends 'Skins Game

By Barry PetcheskyAs part of his campaign to convince you that his team's name isn't racist, Dan Snyder took in today's game with Ben Shelly, president of the Navajo Nation. Once again, Dan probably should have done a little more research.

Shelly is technically still president, but not for much longer. He got absolutely trounced in August's primary election, finishing seventh.

Shelly's a lame duck, and he'll be out of office on Jan. 14 when the new president is sworn in.

Many other news outlets picked up this curiosity and ran with it:

Daniel Snyder watches Redskins-Cardinals with the Navajo Nation president

Controversial Navajo Nation president and his wife join Washington Redskins owner in his VIP box at NFL game--as protesters gather against 'racist' name outside

Snyder is currently in a legal battle with the U.S. Patent office which cancelled his trademark last June calling it 'disparaging to Native Americans'

Before Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals, about 100 gathered outside of University of Phoenix stadium to protest the Redskins team name

Shelly finished seventh in August's presidential primary elections, and will be vacating office in January

By Ashley Collman
Shelly's decision to back Snyder makes him a minority in his tribe, which voted last April to formally oppose the Redskins name, 9-2.

Shelly has faced controversy ever since he entered office in 2011, when he was accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the tribe to benefit himself and his family members.

Those charges were eventually dropped when Shelly agreed to pay back the $8,250 he was accused of taking.

He also went behind tribal leaders backs to partner with Snyder previously, to sponsor a golf tournament with the NFL team owner's Original Americans Foundation (OAF).

When other Native American groups found out about OAF's sponsorship the day before the event, a few pulled out.
Not just a mascot

But Shelly wasn't just slouching in his chair looking embarrassed to be a sellout:

Shelly says he talked business with Snyder

By The Associated PressNavajo Nation President Ben Shelly says he talked business with Redskins owner Dan Snyder at Sunday's NFL game and not about the ongoing debate over the team's name and logo.

Shelly said Monday that he and Snyder spoke about expanding an agreement the tribe made with the team earlier this year.

The Redskins entered into a licensing agreement with Navajo Arts and Crafts Enterprise for the sale of tribal jewelry, rugs, sand paintings and other items at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

Washington waived the licensing fee for the tribe and is working to open the agreement to the other 31 NFL teams.

Shelly talked to Snyder about other possible initiatives, including construction of an indoor sports pavilion on the reservation and funding for the Navajo Code Talkers Museum.
A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words: Navajo President Explains His Game Time Activities

By Levi RickertPresident Shelly met with Dan Snyder to discuss expansion of the licensing agreement to the other 31 NFL teams across the country.

“We have an enormous opportunity to bring more business to Navajo craftsmen and artisans,” President Shelly said. “This licensing agreement with the NFL has opened the door for new jobs and economic development for the Nation.”

“We were there on a mission,” President Shelly said, adding that the meeting between the Navajo Nation and the Washington NFL team was about more than football.

Director of the Navajo Nation Division of Economic Development, Albert Damon, has worked on the licensing agreement between the Navajo Nation and the Washington NFL team from the start of negotiations.

“This licensing agreement allows for growth of the Nation’s cottage industry for developing arts and crafts,” Damon said. “The Redskins offered first and the NFL issued the licensing agreement.

“Now we’re after the other teams,” he added.
Mocking Snyder's efforts

But people aren't buying the Shelly administration's spin:

The Redskins are trying really hard to convince you the team name isn’t racist

By Big SandayYou guys, the Washington Fightin’ Snyders are really, really trying hard to convince you that their team name isn’t racist. In fact, some of their best fans are even Native Americans so, you know, NOT RACIST! This new, odd push comes at a time when the outrage over the team name still simmers but remains in the background thanks to Roger Goodell’s ineptitude and other recent revelations over domestic violence in the league. But there’s the team, right there, making a big push during today’s game at Arizona to convince that you’re wrong about that team name.

Even though the Navajo Nation joined the fight to make the team change their name six months ago, television cameras caught Gun Slinger Snyder hosting Ben Shelly, the president of the Navajo Nation, in his box at the game. But before anyone thinks this is some sort of breakthrough, the Redskins invited various Native American groups to a pregame tailgate and Shelly has faced criticism from many in his own tribe for his seeming indifference to the team name controversy and even stirred up a feud when a Native American gaming group withdrew from a golf tournament meant to raise scholarships because the Redskins were a primary sponsor.
And more:

A cartoon by Ricardo Caté of "Without Reservations":

And one by Jack Ahasteen, political cartoonist for the Navajo Times:

Critics also had a field day with the photos of Snyder and Shelly in the owner's box. My effort below was one of several:

Comment:  For more on the subject, see Natives Protest Redskins in Phoenix and Redskins Fans Show Their "Respect."

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