Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has come under increasing pressure to change his team’s name because some people believe it is offensive to Native Americans.
Through it all Snyder has insisted that he will keep the Redskins moniker, saying that he wishes to honor those tribes and their heritage.
To that end, Snyder announced in a letter to fans Monday that he is forming the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation “to provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities.”
OK, cynics may point out that Snyder is now in charge of two organizations with a name that offends some Native Americans. But let’s try to focus on the positive aspects of this project.
Snyder said that he and his staff have “travelled to 26 Tribal reservations across twenty states to listen and learn first-hand about the views, attitudes, and experiences of the Tribes.”
After first noting that the overwhelming majority of the people he talked to approved of the Redskins name, Snyder talked about witnessing first-hand the daily struggles of many of those tribes.
“Yes, some tribes are doing well. ... But the fact is, too many Native American communities face much harsher, much more alarming realities,” Snyder wrote. “They have genuine issues they truly are worried about, and our team’s name is not one of them.”
He added: “In the heart of America’s Indian country, poverty is everywhere. That’s not acceptable. We have so much, yet too many Native Americans have so little.”
According to Snyder, the foundation’s work has already provided more than 3,000 winter coats to several tribes and basketball shoes for youth players. In addition, it helped purchase a new backhoe for the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska.
Still, the Oneida Indian Nation -- a tribe that has been one of the most vocal critics of Snyder and the Redskins name -- did not seem impressed.
“We’re glad that after a decade of owning the Washington team, Mr. Snyder is finally interested in Native American heritage, and we are hopeful that when his team finally stands on the right side of history and changes its name, he will honor the commitments to Native Americans that he is making,” Oneida representative Ray Halbritter said in a statement.
“We are also hopeful that in his new initiative to honor Native Americans’ struggle, Mr. Snyder makes sure people do not forget that he and his predecessor George Preston Marshall, a famous segregationist, have made our people’s lives so much more difficult by using a racial slur as the Washington team’s name.”