President Cladoosby sends letter in support of DC Council's Resolution to Change the Washington Football team name.

Published on Nov 04, 2013

The Honorable Phil Mendelson, Chairman
The Honorable Kenyan McDuffie, Chair Pro Tempore
Council of the District of Columbia
1350 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Chairman Mendelson and Chair Pro Tempore McDuffie:
On behalf of the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), I respectfully submit this letter in support of Council Member David Grosso’s Proposed Resolution 20-239 and the DC Council’s previous and continued support to change the Washington football team name. Established in 1944, NCAI is the largest and oldest representative organization of American Indian and Alaska Native tribal governments, and serves the broad interests of the nation’s 566 tribal governments consisting of the over 5.2 million Native peoples. 
In 1968, NCAI launched a campaign to end negative and harmful stereotypes perpetuated by media and popular culture. These efforts have been rooted in an attempt to achieve social justice and racial equality for Native people. The continued use of racist and derogatory “Indian” sports mascots, logos, and symbols have perpetuated negative stereotypes of America’s first peoples. Rather than honoring Native peoples, these caricatures and stereotypes contribute to a disregard for the diverse cultural heritages of Native people. 
Stereotypes significantly affect how our people view the world and their place in society, while also affecting how society views Native peoples in historical and contemporary contexts. NCAI’s position and 45 year campaign to end the era of degrading “Indian” stereotypes and mascots is directly linked to ongoing efforts in building a healthy and nurturing environment for our Native youth to flourish and become the next generation of leaders. 
When President Obama stated in an interview with the Associated Press in October 2013 that the Washington Football team name is offensive to a “sizeable group of people” and affirmed the “real and legitimate concerns” of Native peoples, his statements further encouraged the effort to change the name of the Washington football team and end its legacy of marketing a racial slur. As a result of ongoing education and advocacy, over 2,000 “Indian” references in primary, secondary, and post-secondary school sports have been eliminated during the past 35 years. However, nearly 1,000 “Indian” references in school sports still exist today including the Washington football team name, which receives national media coverage and substantial economic revenues from marketing a racial slur.  
In 2001 the DC Council adopted Resolution 14-263, which requested the Washington football team to change its name and, in keeping with that same objective, I respectfully request your support for DC Council Member Grosso’s Proposed Resolution 20-239. I would also request your support on H.R. 1278, the Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act of 2013. H.R. 1278 was introduced by Congressional Delegate Eni Faleomavaega (D-A.S.) on March 20, 2013, and has received widespread support and praise from tribal governments, organizations, and individuals. NCAI is appreciative that DC Representative Eleanor Holmes Norton is a cosponsor. Passage of this legislation would ensure that trademarks using the “R” word would be rescinded and any future applications to register trademarks using the “R” word would be denied. 
Usage of this term carries negative historical connotations reminiscent to the eras of termination of Indian tribes and the assimilation of Native people. The history behind the use of this word in no way honors Native peoples and has no place in our modern American society. President Obama’s remarks on the Washington NFL team name underscore the increasingly obvious fact that now is the time to be on the side of right, now is the time to change this offensive name. 
Again, I respectfully request your support for Council Member Grosso’s Proposed Resolution 14-263. Passage of this Resolution would make a firm, resounding statement from the elected officials representing our nation’s capital. I would also request your support for Congressional passage of H.R. 1278 to ensure disparaging terms, such as the “R” word are removed from trademark protections and never used again. 

Brian Cladoosby 
National Congress of American Indians 
Cc.: DC Council Member At-Large Anita Bonds 
DC Council Member At-Large David Grosso 
DC Council Member At-Large David Catania 
DC Council Member At-Large Vincent Orange 
DC Ward Member Jim Graham 
DC Ward Member Jack Evans 
DC Ward Member Mary M. Cheh 
DC Ward Member Muriel Bowser 
DC Ward Member Tommy Wells 
DC Ward Member Yvette Alexander 
DC Ward Member Marion Barry
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