NIWRC Commends Advocacy of Native Organizers and Communities in Calling for Change of Washington NFL Team Name



(Lame Deer, Mont., July 13, 2020)—The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center commends the long-time activism of Native activists, Native organizations, Tribal communities, and allies who worked tirelessly to change the name of the Washington Football Team, which has been officially retired as of today in an announcement made by the franchise. We recognize this as a momentous step forward in addressing the genocide and systemic racism toward Indigenous people in the United States and a much-needed change that was hard-fought through the collective voices of Native people and allies rising up across the nation.

The NIWRC recently joined more than 450 Native organizations and advocates in a signed letter demanding the National Football League change the Washington NFL team name, imagery, and stop all related offensive practices. The use of an anti-Indigenous slur as the name of a national professional football team is not only dehumanizing of Indigenous people but is well-documented as causing great harm to the psychological health and self-esteem of Native children.

Racism is violence—culturally, historically, systematically, and physically—and is an ongoing public health crisis that has been ignored for far too long. As a Native-led advocacy organization dedicated to ending violence against Native women and children, we recognize the impact of violent anti-Indigenous slurs and imagery in erasing historical and contemporary narratives of Native people. These slurs and imagery reflect and uphold negative attitudes toward Indigenous people—attitudes that exacerbate the ongoing crisis of violence toward Native women and children that permeate throughout all levels of society.

Such demeaning names and dehumanizing images do not honor or represent the strength and the resiliency of our tribal nations and communities. We will not be silenced or ignored. We will be seen and heard. The National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center now calls on all sports teams, sponsors, groups, governments, and schools to change and rebrand any and all mascots and offensive imagery in their communities.