ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — New Mexico is now a player in the battle over changing the name of the Washington Redskins.
The Navajo Nation is the latest tribe to try to tackle the mascot controversy.
It’s a divisive topic in sports fandom. You either love the Washington Redskins name or hate it.
“It is offensive, very offensive,” said Chief George Tiger of the Muskogee Creek Nation.
“I think we should all just forget it and have fun,” said a Redskins fan.
Now, there’s more fuel on the fire as the Navajo Nation, one of the largest tribal governments in the U.S., just officially voted 9 to 2 to oppose the use of the Redskins name. Many tribal leaders say the word has a negative psychological effect on American Indians.
The vote comes alongside protest against the Redskins name all over the U.S.
“And we’ll never, ever, ever give up on this issue,” said Clyde Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement in Minneopolis, MN.
Bellecourt’s group is trying to fight the Redskins name. They’ve proposed denying of the sale of Minnesota state bonds to fund the Minnesota Viking’s newly proposed stadium if the stadium houses the Redskins at any point.
National groups like the National Congress of American Indians are also fighting the “Redskins” name with strong advertising. A recent two-minute video released by the group takes aim at the team through a contrast of historically significant Native American and the use of the term “Redskins.” The commericial ends by stating “Native Americans call themselves many things… the one thing they don’t…” while fading in an image of the Redskins team helmet.
But with all of the outcry, will the NFL and team owner Dan Snyder actually make a change?
“He’s visited I think 26 different tribes he has been working very closely with them,” said Roger Goodell, the Commissioner of the NFL.
While Snyder has listened to many tribes, there aren’t many indications that he will give up the name. Snyder recently told USA Today that he would “never” change the name of the team.
The NFL also points to national surveys, including a recent one that said only 18% of Americans wanted to see the team name changed.
The Redskins owner has also pointed to a 2004 survey of Native Americans by the Annenberg Public Policy Center that showed 90% of Native Americans weren’t bothered by the name.
Lorilei Chavez from Santo Domingo Pueblo says she doesn’t mind either.
“I don’t feel personally offended by any university or any national sports recognized team,” said Chavez.
Love it or hate it, the debate over the Redskins only seems to be heating up.
News 13 reached out to the Navajo Nation Government for a comment on Friday but did not hear back.
Ten members of Congress have also picked up the fight, trying to pressure the NFL to pressure the Redskins owner to change the name.