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Watch me as I honor Native Americans!
Where do they find these PR geniuses? In the wake of mounting pressure, which has literally been building for four decades, to change the name of the Washington DC football team to something slightly less racist and demeaning, owner Daniel Snyder has dug in his heels and gone on a PR offensive to show how much his organization really admires Native Americans.

First he established the "Original Americans Foundation" that's intended to provide tribes with all sorts of goodies, although the announcement was short on specifics. Maybe he'll donate a lot of jackets and other sports gear emblazoned with the team's name and logo. And then there were questions about the dude he tapped to manage the Foundation, who bilked the Bureau of Indian Affairs out of $600,000. Also, it turns out a lot of the Foundation's trips to Indian country were arranged by a player in the Jack Abramoff scandal, and we know how swell he treated American Indians! That transparent ploy to buy silence didn't go over well with many Indian communities. As one advocate said, the Foundation is "somewhere between a PR assault and bribery."

It was in part that dick move that prompted Majority Leader Harry Reid and 49 other senators to send a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, encouraging him to pressure Snyder to change the name. Goodell has supported Snyder in the past, citing team pride and football heritage. Yeah, and lawn jockeys were once part of a restaurant chain's heritage too. If the team's name included derogatory terms associated with African Americans, Jews or another religion or ethnicity, the name would not last past next week. But for some reason it's still okay to slander indigenous peoples, while saying how much you "respect" them. It's still okay for rich white guys to tell Native Americans why they should not be offended.

More Adventures in Community Relations over the fold.

So Snyder's PR Mensa candidates sent around a Tweet last week, asking loyal fans to tell Harry Reid and the other senators to butt out.

Tweet @SenatorReid to show your #RedskinsPride and tell him what the team means to you.
Well, that sorta backfired, with even longtime Washington DC fans telling Snyder it's time to join the 21st century.
#RedskinsPride because keeping the tshirt in my closet accurate is much more important than whole races of people
Hey @Redskins and @HarryReid! To me #redskinspride is about normalizing overt racism in the 21st century. Did I do this right @Redskins?
Celebrating genocide and touchdowns #redskinspride
You won't find the Twitter feeds, or any hint of the name controversy, mentioned at the team's official website anymore.

Yesterday, then, the PR pros dug deeper. This time they reached out to the chief of a small Nevada tribe in Reid's home territory, to stand alongside Snyder and tell the world that the team's name really isn't that bad. Some tribes, such as the Oneida, have been pestering the Washington DC team and others not to misappropriate tribal names for years, but Snyder's goofballs apparently found a chief who'd do their bidding for them. Only they didn't coach him very well, and when he found out what they really wanted ... whoops!

Joseph Holley, chairman of the Battle Mountain Band of Te-Moak Tribe of Western Shoshone Indians, informed the National Congress of American Indians that he declined.
Finally, Snyder, Goodell and others have always said the team's name was changed from Braves to Redskins in 1933 to honor the coach at the time, William "Lone Star" Dietz, who claimed to be Sioux. In a letter to season ticket holders this year, Snyder referred to that history, calling the team's name a "badge of honor." Trouble is, a 1933 AP interview with owner George Preston Marshall, says otherwise:
“The fact that we have in our head coach, Lone Star Dietz, an Indian, together with several Indian players, has not, as may be suspected, inspired me to select the name Redskins...”
It gets worse, as the Think Progress article notes. Coach Dietz was most likely not a Native American and, in fact, he was tried for falsely claiming to be a tribal member in order to avoid WWI. It seems the Washington football team has been "using" indigenous people for a long time.

And what about owner George Preston Marshall? He was such a swell guy that when he died in 1969, he left a lot of money to establish a foundation.

He attached, however, one firm condition: that the foundation, operating out of Washington, D.C., should not direct a single dollar toward “any purpose which supports or employs the principle of racial integration in any form.”
Not surprisingly, this Grand Wizard of NFL owners ordered the band to play "Dixie" before the "Star Spangled Banner" at every game, into the 1960s, and he was the last owner to allow black players on the team. This is the "proud heritage" that Daniel Snyder and Roger Goodell want to uphold. They often say a majority of Americans want the team's name to remain the same. But would most people say that if they knew the real heritage, if they knew what a racist scumbag Marshall was?

Originally posted to Maggie's Farm on Sat May 31, 2014 at 10:40 AM PDT.

Also republished by Barriers and Bridges and Black Kos community.

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