By: Erik Brady, USA TODAY Sports
Leaders of the National Congress of American Indians and Oneida Indian Nation have sent a letter to Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington NFL club, asking him to disavow suggestions that protests against his team’s name are the work of white elites rather than people of color.
The letter, obtained by USA TODAY Sports, notes that recently two of Snyder’s employees, past and present, have made such allegations: Former consultant/blogger Ben Tribbett told Buzzfeed that the campaign against the team name is the work of “well-intentioned” elites and “not Native Americans” while Original Americans Foundation director Gary Edwards told the Fort Yuma Quechan (Kwatsan) Tribe that opposition to the Redskins name is part of a “white, liberal agenda,” according to tribal member Kenrick Escalanti, who told USA TODAY Sports.
The letter, signed by NCAI executive director Jacqueline Pata and Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter, calls such notions “demonstrably untrue” while citing major Native American and civil rights organizations — such as the NCAI and the NAACP — that are on record against the team name.
“Ignoring these facts by insisting people of color are not part of the Change the Mascot campaign is an unfortunate, age-old tactic designed to marginalize people of color by pretending our basic existence does not deserve to be acknowledged,” the letter says.
Snyder has not responded to the letter, which is dated July 23 and was sent by overnight delivery. The team did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday evening.
Attached to the letter is a list of organizations and individuals who are on record against the team name. The letter asks Snyder to print out the list and “distribute it to your employees and instruct them to stop claiming that people of color are not part of the campaign to end your organization’s use of the R-word. We request, in other words, that your employees express at least a minimal level of respect to the countless number of people of color who are part of this campaign.”
Among those named in the letter as opponents of the team name are President Obama, attorney general Eric Holder, Olympic gold medalist Billy Mills, golfer Notah Begay and NFL players Richard Sherman and Champ Bailey.
“As we continue to debate the damage your use of this racial slur is doing to Native Americans across this country, we hope that you at least agree that your representatives should acknowledge the existence of people of color, even when those people of color vehemently oppose your actions.”
The letter is pointedly addressed to Daniel Snyder, Owner, Washington NFL team, 21300 R——- Drive.