WASHINGTON (WJZ) — Controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins team name continues. The team and the NFL are still refusing to change the name.
Jessica Kartalija explains the Native Americans’ anti-Redskins ad is highlighting the issue.
The ad, paid for by a northern California tribe, aired during the NBA Finals. It’s their latest plea to change what they call a racist name and mascot.
The highly produced ad features an array of Native Americans that ends with this message: “Native Americans call themselves many things. The one thing they don’t–[Redskins].”
“In my circles, the r-word is as bad as the n-word,” said Marshall McKay.
McKay is the chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation. His tribe paid to run the ad, which ran in seven major markets during Tuesday night’s NBA Finals. McKay is hoping to bring renewed attention to the campaign to re-name the Washington Redskins.
“I think you can use it as a catalyst to bring the awareness of sports fans to the feelings of native people about the mascots,” said McKay.
Dennis Seymour is with the Baltimore American Indian Center.
“I think it’s important that we keep the issue alive, make people understand how offensive it is,” he said. “I realize the branding with the Redskins is important. But they need to take that name out of context and put it in the realm of the Native American community.”
But it is a complicated issue, even within the Native American community. Sports Illustrated writer Jenny Verentas spent months covering this story.
“Opinions vary across Native Americans for a lot of reasons, but the one thing that the team and the NFL will say in the team name debate is that an overwhelming majority support the name. And that was the thing we found to not be true,” said Verentas.
The Redskins aren’t talking, and the NFL says the league has no comment on the ad or the issue.
“It’s ridiculous that the team that represents the nation’s capital is the most offensive,” said Seymour.
The team owner says he will never change the name and calls it a badge of honor.
The Redskins’ president responded to a letter from 50 senators urging the team to change the name with a letter of his own, claiming a majority of Native Americans do not find the name offensive.
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