WASHINGTON – Several Native American leaders and organizations sent a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell on Monday asking the league to force Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder to change the team name immediately.
The letter, obtained by The Associated Press, was signed by 15 Native American advocates. It requires the team and the NFL to stop using Native American names, images, and logos, with specific significance to Washington, which last week launched a “comprehensive review” of its name.
The groups “hope that the NFL will participate in a meaningful and solid reconciliation process with the leaders, tribes, and organizations of the Native American movements to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious damage that this racist name has caused to the peoples. indigenous “, said the letter. .
The NFL did not immediately respond to a message requesting confirmation of receipt of the letter. Last week, Goodell expressed his support for Snyder’s name revision process.
Retired PGA Tour golfer Notah Begay, two former executive directors of the National Congress of American Indians, and several authors and professors signed the letter, which came the same day that President Donald Trump criticized the Cleveland Indians of Washington and MLB for consider name changes.
Trump tweeted: “They name teams because of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Indians of the Washington Redskins and Cleveland, two legendary sports franchises, look like they are going to change their names to be politically correct.”
Snyder had shown no willingness to change the name since he bought the team in 1999. Last week, sponsors FedEx, PepsiCo, Nike, and Bank of America said they had requested the change, and several online stores removed the team from the team. .
FedEx CEO Frederick Smith is a minority owner, and the company is the primary sponsor of the team’s stadium in Landover, Maryland. The sudden avalanche of sponsors that arose against the name sparked the organizational overhaul announced Friday.
“This process allows the team to consider not only the proud tradition and history of the franchise, but also the contributions of our alumni, the organization, the sponsors, the National Football League and the local community that it is proud to represent. on and off the field, “Snyder said.
George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody in May sparked protests and a national debate on racism. That conversation renewed calls for Snyder to change the name called “dictionary-defined racial slur” by Native American advocates and experts.