Native American lawmaker: 'Redskins' name change 'should have been made a long time ago'
Rep. Deb Haaland (D-N.M.), the co-chairwoman of the House Native American Caucus, said Monday she is "glad" Washington, D.C.'s NFL team is changing its name, but said the change "should have been made a long time ago."
“It shouldn’t take a huge social movement or pressure from corporate sponsors to do the right thing, but I’m glad it’s happening," said Haaland in a statement.
The football team announced Monday it would be dropping the moniker and mascot "Redskins," a term seen as a racial slur against Native Americans that the team's ownership had previously defended.
“It’s wrong for a national football team to perpetuate racist attitudes, but for decades the Washington NFL team refused to recognize the role their name plays in projecting racist stereotypes about Native Americans even after multiple protests and requests," said Haaland, who along with Rep. Sharice Davids (D-Kan.) became one of the first two Native American women elected to Congress in 2018.
Although Native American groups and civil rights activists had long pushed for the name change for the Washington team, which was the last to racially integrate in the league, it wasn't until this summer when a name change was publicly considered by the ownership.
Earlier this month, FedEx — one of the team's top sponsors, as well as the namesake of its Landover, Md., stadium — wrote to Dan Snyder, the team's owner, requesting the name change.
"With decades of work by organizers and activists, public outcry, a moment reckoning with our country’s racist past, and corporate sponsors willing to put more pressure on the Washington NFL team’s management to do the right thing, we made this change together. A change that should have been made a long time ago," said Haaland.
The team has not announced the new name for the franchise.
Haaland said the name change will be positive for both the team and Native American communities.
"Now, young Native kids won’t be faced with the racist attitudes and gestures that come from having mascots that perpetuate stereotypes and silence indigenous voices and culture," said Haaland.
"A whole new generation of fans of Washington NFL football will have a team name and mascot they can be proud of,” she added.