UPDATED: March 25, 2014 8:51 a.m.
LANHAM, Md. (CBSDC) — In a letter addressed to “Redskins Nation” Monday, team owner Daniel Snyder announced the creation of the “Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.”
“For too long, the struggles of Native Americans have been ignored, unnoticed and unresolved,” Snyder writes. “As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions.”
He says the mission of the foundation will be “to provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities.”
The announcement comes months after Snyder penned a letter to season ticket holders passionately defending the team’s name amid mounting outside pressure demanding him to change it due to its perceived offensive nature.
Public debate about whether or not the name is derogatory has been growing over the past few years. Many news outlets now refuse to print the word “Redskins,” and instead refer to the organization as “Washington’s NFL team” or something similar.
“Over the past four months, my staff and I traveled to 26 Tribal reservations across twenty states to listen and learn first-hand about the views, attitudes, and experiences of the Tribes,” Snyder goes on to say.
“We were invited into their homes, their Tribal Councils and their communities to learn more about the extraordinary daily challenges in their lives… The more I heard, the more I’ve learned, and the more I saw, the more resolved I became about helping to address the challenges that plague the Native American community.”
“The Washington Redskins community should commit to making a real, lasting, positive impact on Native American quality of life—one tribe and one person at a time,” the letter states.
The foundation has apparently already begun its work by distributing winter coats and athletic shoes among several tribes and assisting in the purchase of a backhoe for the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska.
“These projects were the first of many and we currently have over forty additional projects currently in process,” Snyder writes.
The Oneida Indian Nation, which has been the most vocal opponent of the teams name, applauds Snyder’s effort, but says the owner has a long way to go.
Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter issued the following statement Tuesday morning:
“We’re glad that after a decade of owning the Washington team, Mr. Snyder is finally interested in Native American heritage, and we are hopeful that when his team finally stands on the right side of history and changes its name, he will honor the commitments to Native Americans that he is making.”
“We are also hopeful that in his new initiative to honor Native Americans’ struggle, Mr. Snyder makes sure people do not forget that he and his predecessor George Preston Marshall, a famous segregationist, have made our people’s lives so much more difficult by using a racial slur as the Washington team’s name.”
Read Snyder’s full letter here.
Click here for more stories about the Redskins name debate.
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