National Indian Gaming Association Statement on Removal of Washington Football Franchise's Name

Washington, D.C. – July 21, 2020 – The National Indian Gaming Association celebrates the long-overdue decision by the Washington Football Team to retire its racist moniker. This was a generational issue and we thank and congratulate all of Indian Country, our sister Tribal organizations, and non-Indian allies for their tireless work to bring awareness to the damaging impacts of the team’s former name.

In response to our many pleas for respect and justice, the team owner and the NFL Commissioner attempted to justify the team name by claiming that it is a symbol of honor. This claim belies the basic fact that the former team name is a dictionary-defined racial slur.

In 2013, in response to a question about changing the derogatory name, team owner Daniel Snyder said, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER – you can use all caps.” On July 13, 2020, “NEVER” quickly became NOW.

Chairman Ernie Stevens, Jr. lauded the announcement of the name change. “We are living in historic times. As the great Dr. King said, ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.’ Indian Country has fought for decades for this piece of justice. At times, it seemed that our pleas for respect fell on deaf ears. But in a matter of days – under threat of an economic boycott – ‘NEVER’ has become now. The former team name became better suited for history books. We embrace this opportunity as chance for growth, reconciliation, and acknowledgement of the contributions of Tribal Nations to the development of this great Nation.”

Chairman Stevens continued, “These are transformative times. The era of using Native Americans as mascots, perpetuating harmful negative stereotypes, must come to an end. It’s my sincere hope that whatever the team’s new name, it will reflect inclusion and respect of all Americans. ”
The National Indian Gaming Association asks all Americans to take this time to learn about the true history of the more than 570 Tribal Nations in the United States. Learn about the tragic federal policies that stole our lands, suppressed our language and religion, and the government-sponsored effort to take our children from their homes. Finally, the Association asks all to make the effort to learn about the countless contributions of our ancestors, the hurdles they overcame, the many gifts they provided to our American culture.