School denounces Redskins’ name in letter

Updated: October 13, 2013, 1:20 PM ET

John Keim |

The Red Cloud Indian School denounced the Washington Redskins‘ nickname after team owner Dan Snyder invoked their organization in a passionate defense of the nickname to season-ticket holders.

In a letter published in Sunday’s Washington Post and signed by the school’s executive vice president, Robert Brave Heart, and Fr. George Winzenburg, the organization makes it clear where it stands.

The letter states, “As an organization, Red Cloud Indian School has never — and will never — endorse the use of the name ‘Redskins.’ Like many Native American organizations across the country, members of our staff and extended community find the name offensive.”

On Wednesday, Snyder wrote that “In 1971, our legendary coach, the late George Allen, consulted with the Red Cloud Athletic Fund located on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and designed our emblem on the Redskins helmets.”

Allen’s son, Bruce, is the Redskins’ general manager and mentioned the same story in February. But while the writers from Red Cloud say that Allen helped create the Red Cloud Athletic Fund in Illinois, they did not have a role in later designing the Redskins’ emblem.

The Red Cloud Indian School wrote, “It was a generous, independent entity that worked to support athletics at Red Cloud Indian School at one time and benefited hundreds of our students. However, Red Cloud Indian School was not involved in conversations around an emblem for the Washington Redskins football team.”

Snyder has said he will never change the name, telling USA Today in May that they could print that “in all caps.” He softened his tone last week in his letter, writing that he has listened to commentary and perspective on all sides.

The Red Cloud letter writers say they want more than Snyder to just listen. They said they were encouraged that NFL representatives met with the Oneida Nation to discuss the name, but wanted more to be done.

They concluded the letter by saying, “We stand against any abuse or appropriation of Native history, culture or heritage — and we believe the use of the name ‘Redskins’ falls into that category.”

The Oneida Indian Nation released a statement Sunday, according to Pro Football Talk, from Joel Barkin, their vice president of communications, regarding what they said were errors in Snyder’s letter.

“Mr. Snyder must set the record straight and immediately send a new letter to season-tickets holders highlighting these misrepresentations and omissions,” the statement said. “Mr. Snyder should stop trying to rewrite history and instead rewrite his misleading and inaccurate letter and stop pretending that the targets of the R-word slur support his agenda.”

  • Covered the Redskins for the Washington Examiner and other media outlets since 1994
  • Authored or co-authored three books on the Redskins and one on the Cleveland Browns

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