A Native American group is threatening to go on the warpath if the NFL’s Washington football team doesn’t readopt its iconic “Redskins” name and punt the “Commanders” moniker it assumed in 2020 in response to coercion from the cancel-culture crowd.
On Monday, the Native American Guardian’s Association (NAGA) sent a letter to the new leadership of the team, condemning the “cancel culture” that pressured the previous owner to drop “Redskins.”
The group has also posted a petition on Change.org, calling for restoration of “Redskins.” By Thursday, more people (75,000) had signed the petition than can be seated in the team’s home stadium of FedEx Field (63,000).
While the letter from NAGA Founder and President Eunice Davidson requests a pow-wow with the team’s chiefs, the NFL organization has repeated ignored requests for a meeting.
This time, however, the NAGA president warns that his group might launch a boycott that could cost the team a heap of wampum, if its requests are shunned.
"Should we need to encourage a national boycott similar to what happened with Anheuser Busch which is now down $27 billion (note, not one brick thrown, not one highway blocked, not one bridge burned) - WE WILL DO JUST THAT," the letter says.
🚨BREAKING: Native American Guardian’s Association Founder & President Eunice Davidson Sent a Demand Letter Today to Washington "Commanders" Ownership & Key Leadership Formally Requesting The Team Revitalize it's Relationship With The American Indian Community & Rightfully Change… pic.twitter.com/cpau4hVq6H— Native American Guardians Association (@GuardiansNative) August 7, 2023
Since its adoption in 1933 when the team was in Boston, the name “Redskins” was meant to portray the team’s players as fierce warriors, not as a slur, the letter explains:
"At this moment in history, we are formally requesting that the team revitalize its relationship with the American Indian community by (i) changing the name back to 'The Redskins' which recognizes America's original inhabitants and (ii) using the team's historic name and legacy to encourage Americans to learn about, not cancel, the history of America's tribes and our role in the founding of this Great Nation."
People promoting a double-standard regarding free speech are speaking with forked tongues, the letter says:
“You simply cannot erase history and target the Native American community by eradicating the name ‘Redskins’ while being an organization that fosters other Constitutional rights including players who don’t honor the American flag and kneel during our National Anthem.”
All Americans have 1st and 14th Amendment rights and shouldn’t be “targets of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) cancel culture environment,” the letter says.
petition makes a similar observation:
“The name ‘Commanders’ fails to capture the essence, tradition, and historical weight associated with the Redskins. It lacks the uniqueness, emotional connection, and pride that our team's original name embodies. The change to ‘Commanders’ dilutes our team's identity and weakens the connection with its devoted fanbase. By restoring the Redskins name, we reinstate a symbol of unity, strength, and shared identity that has inspired generations of fans.”
“[T]he name change has caused division among supporters, tarnishing the team's legacy and distancing it from its roots,” while the Redskins name can be a positive influence, the petition says:
“As fans, we seek unity, respect, and inclusivity. We believe that the name Redskins can be a catalyst for positive change, fostering understanding and appreciation for Native American heritage through community outreach, education, and collaboration.”
When the federal government tried to strip the team of its “Redskins” trademark, the Native American Guardian’s Association defended the trademark during the court battle, Davidson notes:
"In 2015, our organization filed an amicus brief on behalf of The Redskins in support of their successful First Amendment case, which overruled a finding by the U.S. Patent Office that the name could not be registered as a trademark because it was derogatory.”
Davidson also cites a Washington Post poll that found that 90% of Native Americans did not find the Redskins name offensive.
“Other teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and Chicago Blackhawks have kept their Indian-based names – with the recognition that it carries an obligation of honor and respect,” the letter adds. And, as local D.C. station WUSA 9 explains in the video below, the Redskins' logo was even designed by a member of the Blackfeet Tribe.
Nonetheless, even if the team’s new owners decide to change the name, when it comes to reinstituting “Redskins” in the face of today’s cancel-culture, they may well have reservations.