Phil Gover: NFL team undermines and corrupts Indian Country

Gari Lafferty, left, was removed as chairwoman of the Paiute Tribe of Utah after accepting a free trip to an NFL game last September. Photo from Facebook

Phil Gover, a member of the Paiute Tribe of Utah who is part of Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc., a challenge to the racist trademarks of the Washington NFL team, exposes the intentions of the Original Americans Foundation:
Last week the Chairwoman of my tribe, Gari Pikyavit Lafferty, was removed from office by our tribal council for accepting personal gifts from Dan Snyder’s Original Americans Foundation (whose own name betrays the courage of Snyder’s convictions). Watching the Chairwoman’s slow-motion implosion, interacting with her supporters and detractors, and reflecting on my own strong feelings over what she did has left me feeling angry, divided and a little less hopeful. I can tell her supporters feel the same.

This is exactly why Snyder’s foundation exists.

It exists to zoom-in and highlight the divisions within our communities and to remove the joy from the small things that bring us together. It does its work by forcing people to make a choice between their dignity and temporary relief from the trappings of poverty. In doing so it preys upon people’s biggest weaknesses and worst fears, turns communities against each other, and even turns cousin against cousin.

I’m struck by the layered cynicism of Snyder’s philanthropic enterprise. The first layer is an assumption about non-Native people – that by creating a foundation in the midst of crisis one can hand-wave the negative press away. That argument goes like this: “The Redskins couldn’t possibly be a racist name – look at all the good work they do in Indian country.” This is probably enough to boost the confidence of some name supporters whose resolve is flagging. No need to examine exactly what the foundation does – its existence is proof enough.

Get the Story:
Phil Gover: Daniel Snyder's ‘Gifts’ to Natives Undermine and Corrupt (Indian Country Today 4/7)

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