Opinion | Sports

Opinion: NFL team seeks to whitewash history with Indian art

Letter posted by Zuni Pueblo. Image from Facebook

Writer criticizes Washington NFL team owner Dan Snyder for targeting vulnerable communities with his Original Americans Foundation:
As Dan Snyder himself found when he visited, the Zuni Pueblo tribe faces serious economic problems, including an unemployment rate of some 67 percent. Tribal administrator Hanna Weeke told USA Today Sports, “We have a very depressed economy and the (tribal) governor wanted to help local Zuni artists,” and she expects that Snyder’s foundation will pay artists full costs rather than the cut rates most people expect on Native American artwork.

That is the strategy of Snyder’s new foundation: Go to desperate poor Native American communities, offer foundation support of some sort or another that the communities are hard-pressed to reject given their needs, and connect it to the use and promotion of the Washington team’s racially disparaging name.

Some of this sounds less like charity and philanthropy and more like the history of a part of the Christian missionary outreach (actively supported by the federal government) to Native Americans in the 1800s. In return for assistance from whites, Native Americans were encouraged and expected to adopt white ways and to be assimilated into white culture. Now, through the philanthropy of Snyder’s NFL team, Native Americans are encouraged to assimilate a racially disparaging team name. That’s the chutzpah of Dan Snyder’s missionary approach to philanthropy, except that he isn’t offering food and assistance in exchange for white culture and religion. He simply wants Native Americans to take the charitable money in return, at a minimum, for turning a blind eye to the racially disparaging team name.

Get the Story:
Rick Cohen: Dan Snyder Seeks Original Native American Art to Redwash Foundation (Nonprofit Quarterly 8/11)

Also Today:
Ex-Redskins kicker Moseley: You'll have to drop a bomb on FedEx field to get team's name changed (AP 8/11)
‘Redskins’ name has complicated history for Meskwaki, other tribes (The Cedar Rapids Gazette 8/11)

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