"This is the closest I think Native peoples have come in nearly 30 years," Crystal Echo Hawk says of Washington's name change.
On Monday, 15 Native American organizations, advocates and authors signed a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to force Washington’s NFL team to change its name.
In addition to changing the name, the letter asks the NFL to require the team to cease the use of Native American imagery, cease the use of polls to justify continued use of the name and ban the use of Native imagery from the league.
Harvard professor Joseph Gone was part of a research team that compiled academic studies on Native American mascots.
In addition to the letter from Native organizations, a group called Athletes for Impact also wrote a letter to the NFL and the Washington team emphasizing the results of the research studies and calling for a complete ban on Native mascots and team names as well as racist behavior by fans.
“As athletes, we know sports have power and we exercise tremendous influence and can inspire people of all ages,” the letter read. “As an intersectional collective of athletes representing a range of races, genders, sports and religions who are actively involved in movements for justice, we ask that you immediately end the use of Native mascots in the NFL.”
Another letter asking to end the use of Native American mascots and team names, as well as racist fan behavior, was sent to the NFL by a group of singers, actors, directors and models, including Minnie Driver, Jewel and Mark Ruffalo
While her organization’s demands go beyond simply changing the name – she hopes for an end to Native mascots everywhere, including in professional and college teams, as well as K-12 schools, and an apology to Native Americans for the prior use of racist imagery – the recent momentum of her movement has her hopeful for the future
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