The Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium in Washington, D.C., is seen in an aerial photo from March 1988. Photo: MSGT Ken Hammond / Department of Defense

Democrats object to land deal for NFL team with 'racist' name

Two key Democrats -- Sen. Tom Udall (D-New Mexico) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minnesota) -- don't want the NFL team with the "racist" name to return to the nation's capital.

Udall serves as the vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs while McCollum is the co-chair of the Congressional Native American Caucus, a bipartisan group in the House. Both also hold leadership positions on their respective Appropriations committees and thus play a big role in determining whether the Washington NFL team gets a federal land deal to build a new stadium in Washington, D.C.

“Congress should not give our stamp of approval to these ugly and derogatory stereotypes and slurs of Indigenous peoples,” Udall said in a statement, The Washington Post reported. Udall is the top Democrat on the Senate Interior Appropriations subcommittee.

"American taxpayers shouldn't subsidize racism-for-profit," McCollum, who will be leading the House Interior Appropriations subcommittee in the next session of Congress, wrote in a post on Twitter. "This GOP backdoor deal is a disgrace to Native Americans, taxpayers, and the legislative process."

"No more backdoor GOP deals for billionaires like Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington football team who profits off a racist mascot," McCollum added in a post on Facebook.

The Post was the first to report on the potential land deal, describe it as an effort by Republicans and officials in the D.C. government -- Democrats included -- to ensure the Washington team can build a new stadium at the site of the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Stadium, where it previously played. The land is controlled by the Department of the Interior -- outgoing Secretary Ryan Zinke is a supporter of the deal, according to the paper.

Officials in D.C., including Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D) and Mayor Muriel Bowser, both Democrats, as well as city council members, have spoken out against the team's racist imagery. But some of these officials appear to be willing to overlook the issue while they negotiate for the team's return.

Congress, however, remains under Republican control for now, and the party is taking the lead on the effort. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah), who currently serves as chairman of the House Committee on Natural Resources, is working on the deal, The Post reported.

Every major Indian organization, as well as dozens of tribes, oppose the continued use of the name and its associated symbols, calling them stereotypical and offensive.

The R-word "is a painful reminder of the hate, prejudice and injustice heaped upon us since that first boat touched our shores," newspaper publisher and Lakota journalist Tim Giago wrote on Indianz.Com earlier this month.

The federal government is currently being funded through a continuing resolution that expires on December 21. The NFL stadium deal would presumably be inserted in a long-term appropriations measure that is being drafted in anticipation of passage before the end of the year.

Nine civil rights and racial justice organizations, including the National Congress of American Indians, issued a joint statement last Thursday, opposing such deal and calling on the team once again to stop using a "racial slur" for its name and mascot.

A #HailNo petition drive is underway online to express opposition to a deal for the NFL team.

Read More on the Story
Key Democratic lawmakers object to Redskins stadium on federal land (The Washington Post December 11, 2018)
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan wants a land swap to keep Redskins in Prince George’s County (The Washington Post December 11, 2018)

Some Opinions
Opinion by National Congress of American Indians President Jefferson Keel: Here’s something I’d be thankful for: Ridding football of racial slurs (The Washington Post November 21, 2018)
Column by Thomas Boswell: So you want to give Dan Snyder land for a new stadium? Don’t say you weren’t warned. (The Washington Post December 12, 2018)

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