Two prominent groups that have led the campaign against the name of the Washington Redskins launched their newest campaign Monday, a photo project that highlights what Native Americans and their allies are “proud to be.”
The project is backed by the National Congress of American Indians and the Oneida Indian Nation of New York’s Change The Mascot campaign. The #ProudToBe project features photographs of prominent Native American leaders, members of Congress, and others who have spoken out against the name in the last year. The first round of pictures includes Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), and D.C. Councilman David Grosso holding signs against the name. It also includes photos gathered on social media of Native Americans holding #ProudToBe signs, and asks others who support the movement to submit their own on the Change The Mascot campaign’s web site.
Reid, Cantwell, and Grosso are among the political leaders that have spoken out against the continued use of “Redskins.” Reid has repeatedly called on the NFL to change the name; Cantwell, as the former chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, has co-authored a letter to the league calling for a change and met with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to push for a new name; Grosso led an effort to pass a council resolution condemning the name and has said that he would never vote to fund a new D.C. stadium for the team until it changed its name.
The Proud To Be campaign is a spin-off of a video advertisement by the same name that NCAI released before this year’s Super Bowl. The video’s narrator uses an array of labels for Native Americans — from tribal names to occupations to familial roles. “Native Americans call themselves many things. The one thing they don’t…” the narrator says as an image of the Redskins’ helmet flashes across the screen.
“This is a national movement of Americans across the country, Native and non-Native alike, who are standing against racism and demanding change,” NCAI said in its release.
The effort is similar to other online campaigns against the name and others like it. Native American activists have used the #NotYourMascot hashtag to demonstrate opposition to Native American imagery in sports, and a Cleveland Indians fan started a @DeChiefWahoo Twitter account to campaign against the Indians’ logo, a caricature-like depiction of a Native American.
The Redskins started their own public relations campaign defending the name earlier this year, sending out weekly statements of support from fans of the team who it says are Native American. Owner Daniel Snyder has defended the name as a “badge of honor” in a letter to fans, and last May, he told USA Today that he would “NEVER” change the name.