- By Native News Online Staff
WASHINGTON — One year after the Washington NFL franchise retired the racist “Redsk!ns” name it maintained for 87 years, National Congress of American Indians President Fawn Sharp released the following statement on Monday:
“On the one year anniversary of the Washington Football Team’s retirement of their racist mascot, we take a moment to recognize the grit and dedication of Tribal Nations, tribal leaders, citizens, advocates and allies who tirelessly helped in the mission to educate Americans on the immense harms Native-themed mascots and team names cause Native people.
Last year sparked a wave of momentum and in 2020 alone, a total of 70 schools voted to retire or alter their Native-themed mascots, with more than 30 schools following suit in 2021 thus far. On the state level, several states have fully or partially banned Native-themed or race-based mascots – including in my home state of Washington. This growing movement shows no signs of slowing down.
True respect for Native people and other people of color requires our country to rid itself of the symbols of racism and intolerance that have far too long been embedded in popular culture and which have marginalized and dehumanized us. These symbols and names have no place in American society, and our work is not yet done.
NCAI will not rest until all offensive Native-themed mascots and associated imagery are removed from popular culture and we call upon our partners and allies across the nation to join us in our resolve to push this positive momentum forward.”
The mascot issue goes far beyond the Washington NFL franchise. The NCAI in May 2020 launched a comprehensive national tracking database that tracks the more than two dozen different Native “themed” school mascots in use by K-12 public schools across the country and continues to actively engage and educate those schools deliberating the retirement of their mascots.
After one year, the team is still using its temporary name "Washington Football Team," but is expected to rename the franchise in the coming months. On Monday, Washington Football Team President Jason Wright said that the new team name will not reflect any Native name or imagery.
"As we learned through our research and engagement with various groups, ‘context matters’ and that makes it a ‘slippery slope,’” Wright wrote on the team’s website. “Feedback from across communities we engaged clearly revealed deep-seated discomfort around Warriors, with the clear acknowledgment that it too closely aligns with Native American themes.”
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