Indian Country reacts to retiring of Redskins name and logo

by Jul 15, 2020OPINIONS




The Washington NFL organization announced on the morning of Monday, July 13 that it was retiring its Redskins name and logo.  Following are comments and statements from leaders and organizations throughout Indian Country on this decision:

  • United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) President Kirk Francis

“USET SPF is encouraged and heartened that, at long last, this disparaging and racist word will no longer be used in professional sports.  We extend our deep gratitude to all the advocates and allies who never wavered in their efforts to achieve today’s win.  While it should have been relegated to America’s racist past long ago, we welcome this change as an opportunity for education, growth, and reconciliation, as the nation acknowledges its historic and ongoing shameful acts against tribal nations and Native people.  It is our hope that the team’s new name and logo will truly reflect our evolution as a society.  Bottom line, our people and cultures are not mascots and the time is long past due for us to be properly respected, not only within sports teams, but in all aspects.”

  • National Congress of American Indians

“Today is a day for all Native people to celebrate.  We thank the generations of tribal nations, leaders, and activists who worked for decades to make this day possible.  We commend the Washington NFL team for eliminating a brand that disrespected, demeaned, and stereotyped all Native people, and we call on all other sports teams and corporate brands to retire all caricatures of Native people that they use as their mascots.  We are not mascots – we are Native people, citizens of more than 500 tribal nations who have stood strong for millennia and overcome countless challenges to reach this pivotal moment in time when we can help transform America into the just, equitable, and compassionate country our children deserve.”

  • Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer

“For generations, this team name and logo has misrepresented the true history and events that define the term ‘redskins’.  History tells us that the term ‘redskins’ derived from bounty hunters, which identified Indigenous peoples by the color of their skin.  Bounties were offered for the murder of Native Americans.  Bounty hunters killed Native Americans, referenced as ‘redskins’, and brought to the market the stained, bloodied scalps in exchange for payment.  This is the tragic and disgusting history that the world is not often told.”

  • Navajo Nation Council Speaker Seth Damon

“The changing of a national football franchise’s name is no small accomplishment.  Today, we commend the work of Suzan Shown Harjo, Amanda Blackhorse, and others that have continued to push for this moment since 1992.  The term had become so normalized to American society that it forgot, or thought it could dismiss, the violent and bloody history behind the very word.  Throughout the years, we’ve continued to hope that a retired Washington ‘Redskins’ team name and logo could become a symbol of greater understanding of the misrepresentation that many Native nations continue to face today.  No amount of symbolic ‘honoring’ can undo decades of cultural appropriation that have followed on the coat tails of centuries of extermination and exploitation.”

  • Ho-Chunk Nation President Marlon White Eagle

“We thank FedEx, Nike, corporate sponsors and all of those involved in this historic change.  As Indigenous people inherent to this land called the United States of America, we have for a long time been portrayed and characterized in a negative stereotype.  We are not mascots.  The name change is long overdue.”

  • Billy Mills, Olympic Gold Medalist and National Spokesperson for Running Strong for American Indian Youth

“It’s never too late to do the right thing.  Now, I urge the Washington football team to truly turn the page and pick a new name and logo with no exploitation of Native people.  They are on the verge of righting a historic wrong.  What they do next will define this team’s legacy.”

  • Ponca Tribe of Nebraska

“The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is encouraged that this long-overdue moment has arrived, with one professional sports franchise abandoning a mascot that perpetuated a racial slur and another examining how Native American mascots are offensive and have no place in our society.  Using Native Americans as sport mascots and our deeply meaningful symbols, including headdresses, are inappropriate.  Advancing troubling stereotype in popular culture and society, via sports, diminishes our personhood.  The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska is hopeful that other sports franchises will make the right decision by ceasing their use of derogatory and offensive mascots, and thereby examining their own use of mascots, chants, symbols, and themes that disparage our people.”

  • Crystal Echohawk, IllumiNative executive director

“This is 30 years in the making, and we honor the leaders of this movement, Suzan Harjo and Amanda Blackhorse, and important contributors such as Dr. Stephanie Fryberg, First Peoples Worldwide, and thousands of other Native organizations, people, and tribal leaders who have fought for this.  Tomorrow, our fight continues.  We will not rest until the offensive use of Native imagery, logos, and names are eradicated from professional, collegiate, and K-12 sports.  The time is now to stand in solidarity and declare that racism will not be tolerated.”