WASHINGTON (AP) — A United Nations human rights expert says the name of the Washington Redskins football team is a “hurtful reminder” of the mistreatment of Native Americans, but stopped short of joining in calls for the team’s owner to change the name.
Last month, team owner Dan Snyder said he was creating a foundation to assist American Indian tribes but gave no indication he had plans to change the name, which he says honors Native Americans.
On Friday, James Anaya — a UN expert on indigenous people’s rights — urged Snyder to “consider that the term `redskin’ for many is inextricably linked to a history of suffering and dispossession.”
Anaya says “it is understood to be a pejorative and disparaging term that fails to respect and honor” Native Americans.
Meanwhile, the Navajo Nation Council formally has opposed the use of the Washington Redskins name.
The council’s committee of the whole voted 9-2 Thursday on the measure sponsored by lawmaker Joshua Lavar Butler. He says the word can have negative psychological effects on American Indians.
The statement of opposition also applies to what Butler says are disparaging references to American Indians in other professional sports franchises.
It does not apply to college or high school mascots. The mascot for at least one high school on the Navajo Nation is the Redskins.
The final authority for the measure rests with the committee of the whole.
The president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association had urged lawmakers not to approve the measure. Peter MacDonald says the NFL team’s name honors American Indians.
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