Native Americans opposed to the continued use of “Redskins” as the name of Washington’s NFL team gained widespread attention before last year’s Super Bowl with a web video protesting the name. For this year’s Super Bowl, the nation’s largest Native American group wants to do it again.
The National Congress of American Indians launched a crowd-funded Kickstarter campaign in December with the goal of raising $20,000 to produce the ad. As of press time, the campaign had reached its goal with more than two days to spare, with 300 backers pledging $20,136 to make the ad happen.
According to the web site, the ad will “create a commercial ad campaign that sends a clear and powerful message to NFL fans prior to and during this year’s Super Bowl.”
“We’ll digitally remove the offensive logos from an exciting Washington highlight video and show the world what it will look like when the name is gone,” the description of the campaign says. “No R-word, no mascots, no racism. But the amazing football play and players remain. In this way, we’ll remind Washington fans that their memories and tradition will remain when the mascot changes.”
The Super Bowl ad campaign builds on the wider efforts from NCAI, which along with the Oneida Indian Nation launched the Change The Mascot Campaign in 2013, against the name of Washington’s football team. The Change The Mascot campaign has run radio ads in various NFL markets where Washington has played during the past two seasons and called on political and civil rights leaders and media outlets to quit using it.
Last year’s TV ad, titled “Proud To Be,” garnered widespread attention around the sports world even though it didn’t air during the Super Bowl. The ad eventually aired on TV during the NBA finals in June.
On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission dismissed a petition from a George Washington University professor asking it to sanction broadcasters that use “Redskins” on air, but in the time since last year’s ad ran the campaign against it has been successful targeting it in other ways. A growing list of media outlets have decided to no longer use the word, including the editorial board of the Washington Post, and before this year’s NFL season began, all four of the league’s broadcast partners gave their on-air broadcasters and analysts the option to avoid saying it (several, including CBS lead analyst Phil Simms, have tried to stop saying it on air).
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Trademark Trial and Appeals Board invalidated six of the team’s federal trademark protections in June on grounds that the name is “disparaging” to Native Americans. And while Washington’s name remains — Snyder has said he’ll “NEVER” change it — efforts to raise awareness about the name have led to changes at the high school level.