A Native American group threatened a national boycott of the Washington Commanders unless the NFL changes the name back to the Washington Redskins. Here’s the full story.
Change Their Name Back to ‘The Redskins’
The Native American Guardians Association (NAGA) wrote in a tweet that they sent a letter to the leaders of the Washington ‘Commanders’ football team formally requesting the team “revitalize its relationship with the American Indian community and rightfully change their name back to ‘The Redskins.’”
‘Redskins’ to ‘Washington Commanders’
In 2020, the football team announced it was removing ‘Redskins’ from its name, and two years later announced the national professional football team would be called the ‘Washington Commanders.’
Pressure From Cancel Culture
The name change came about from pressure from the cancel culture mob following the death of George Floyd and those who claimed that the term was racist and offensive to Native Americans.
The name change stemmed from pressure from the cancel culture mob following the death of George Floyd and those who claimed the term was racist and offensive to Native Americans.
Advocates Say ‘Redskins’ Is Offensive
The team dropped their former name after 87 years.
Advocates for the name change said the Washington ‘Redskins’ was offensive to many Indigenous people who viewed the name and branding as both a slur and a disparaging stereotype grounded in America’s history of violence against Native people.
It’s Not Alright
Suzan Harjo, a 76-year-old who advocated the team’s name change, called the change “a huge step forward.” She said, “It’s not alright to use disparaging terms, derogatory names, slurs, images, and behaviors.”
Harjo refers to the word redskins as the “r-word” and says it is inseparable from harmful, racist attitudes that have translated into emotional and physical violence against Native Americans.
‘Redskin’ Didn’t Start Out as an Insult
The origin of the term has been debated by linguists and historians, and some say the word ‘redskin’ didn’t start out as an insult.
However, to many Native Americans, the word refers to the grotesque act of hunting down and skinning their ancestors’ scalps for cash bounties.
NFL Erasing the Role of Native Americans
NAGA addressed what they called “cancel culture” against the Native American population.
By changing the name of the football team, the NFL was erasing Native Americans’ “steadfast role in American history, including serving as counselors to the Founding Fathers in the creation of the US Constitution.”
The Name Is 87-Years-Old
In their letter, NAGA talked about the history of the Washington football team and its relationship with the Native American community dating back to its 1933 season when they were named the Boston Redskins.
Change the Name Back
NAGA said the team could revitalize its relationship with the American Indian community by doing two things. First, change the team’s name back to ‘The Redskins’ which recognizes the first inhabitants of America.
Encourage Others to Learn About Native American History
Second, NAGA wants the team to use their historic name and legacy to encourage Americans to learn about the history of America’s tribes – not cancel it.
The group wants everyone to know the role the American Indian community played in the founding of the United States.
We Will Do Just That
Their letter threatened, “Should we need to encourage a national boycott similar to what happened with Anheuser Busch (Bud Light) 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 Bud Light Boycott
After a popular transgender influencer promoted a Bud Light contest on Instagram, calls for a boycott followed.
Because of the boycott, Bud Light’s sales dropped and two of its executives took a leave of absence. In a three month span, the world’s largest brewer’s revenue declined by 10.5%.
NAGA Stands Their Ground
The letter from NAGA to the football team ended by noting that in today’s society, this “oppression and arbitrary and capricious recognition of U.S. history and Constitutional rights is not acceptable.”
The group vowed to stand their ground because “if you don’t acknowledge history, we are doomed to repeat it.”
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Featured Image Credit: Shutterstock / Ruslana Iurchenko. The people shown in the images are for illustrative purposes only, not the actual people featured in the story.