Updates from Tuesday, March 25
NBC's Mike Florio provides a statement from Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter responding to Dan Snyder's announcement:
“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 Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter said in a press release.
“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.”
It's no secret—the Washington Redskins' nickname is controversial.
But in a letter sent to the team's fans, via Redskins.com, owner Dan Snyder wrote that Native American communities "face much harsher, much more alarming realities," claiming that "our team's name" is not one of the issues.
As a result, he is creating the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, with the mission statement of the group reading as follows:
The mission of the Original Americans Foundation is to provide meaningful and measurable
resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities. With open arms and determined minds, we will work as partners to begin to tackle the troubling realities facing so many tribes across our country. Our efforts will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need most. We may have created this new organization, but the direction of the Foundation is truly theirs.
There are fewer controversies bigger in sports.
Most view the word "Redskin" as a racial slur and have advocated for the Washington franchise to change its name, no matter the intended meaning behind the nickname. Numerous civil rights and academic organizations have sought to get the name eliminated.
Other sides of the argument, such as Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel, believe the entire debate is "pointless" and that this move by Snyder is nothing more than a PR stunt to "silence critics":
Find name debate boring/pointless but Dan Snyder PR is silly. "Washington Redskins Heritage?" It's just football team http://t.co/wrHE6zbFLz— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) March 25, 2014
It's classic (terrible) Beltway thinking. Listening tour. Self-important position paper. Pander to base. Throw money to silence critics.— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) March 25, 2014
No matter how you feel about the nickname controversy, or whatever Snyder's motivations behind this move actually are, it's good to see a positive coming from all of this.
According to Snyder, the foundation has already distributed 3,000 cold-weather coats to tribes, purchased a new backhoe for another and has 40 additional projects on the horizon.
It's unlikely that the nickname controversy comes to an end any time soon, and for most, Snyder won't ever be let off the hook as long as the team name is kept intact.
But it's at least nice that people in need are receiving the help they deserve.