Dan Snyder, owner of the Washington, D.C. NFL team and staunch defender of that organization’s racist name, has announced that he’s starting a group called the “Original Americans Foundation” to assist the Native American tribes that he claims his team name honors.
”It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans,” Snyder said in a letter to the team’s fans. ”We must do more.”
In the letter, Snyder wrote that the new foundation will ”provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities” for Native Americans, but didn’t give financial details, including whether or not he would personally donate any money.
Will Snyder’s latest move calm the controversy around his team’s name? Not likely.
Suzan Shown Harjo, a Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee advocate and leading figure in two federal trademark lawsuits against the NFL organization over the past two decades, told the Associated Press that Snyder’s announcement was “somewhere between a PR assault and bribery.”
Snyder wrote in his letter that he and his staff members have visited 26 reservations over the past four months and that those experiences have opened his eyes to the problems facing Native communities, including poverty, drug abuse and a lack of basic infrastructure. “I’ve listened. I’ve learned. And frankly, its heart wrenching,” the letter said.
Harjo isn’t impressed. “I’m glad that he’s had a realization that Native Americans have it tough in the United States,” Harjo told the AP. “All sorts of people could have told him that, and have been trying to tell him that for a long time.”
Harjo continued, “Will (the foundation) do much of anything? No. But it probably won’t hurt,” Harjo said, ”except that it will continue the cycle of negative imaging of Native American people in the public arena.”
Snyder’s move seems especially suspect given that the federal patent office just rejected his organization’s attempt to trademark “redskin potatoes,” in part because the term could be seen as derogatory to Native Americans. Snyder’s out to make money, period.
(h/t Yahoo Sports)