Feb 10 2014 Cantwell-Cole Letter to Roger Goodell.pdf
WASHINGTON D.C. – Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Chairwoman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, and Representative Tom Cole (R-OK) today called upon the National Football League to take a formal position in support of changing the name of the Washington, D.C., football team.
In a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Cantwell and Cole called for action. “We also wish to register our objections to your pre-Super Bowl press conference on January 31, 2014, at which you defended the Washington team name as an “honor” to Native Americans,” Cantwell and Cole wrote. “It is, in fact, an insult to Native Americans. We are calling on you and the National Football League to take a formal position in support of a name change.”
Cantwell and Cole’s letter comes in response to Commissioner Goodell’s statements during a press conference on the Friday before the Super Bowl, during which he claimed that the Washington team name “honored Native Americans.”
“Saying the Washington football team ‘honored Native Americans’ perpetuates a charade that dishonors Native people and their governments and erodes the reputation of the National Football League,” Cantwell and Cole wrote Monday. “We believe that the fact that this term does not honor — but rather disparages — Indian people and tribes is what will and should guide federal policymakers.”
Cantwell has served on the Senate Indian Affairs Committee since 2001, and has served as Chair since February 2013. Elected in 2002, Rep. Tom Cole is an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation and one of the only Native Americans currently serving in the House of Representatives. Cole serves as Deputy Majority Whip in the House.
“The National Football League is on the wrong side of history,” Cantwell and Cole continued. “It is not appropriate for this multibillion dollar 501(c)(6)tax-exempt organization to perpetuate and profit from the continued degradation of tribes and Indian people. It is time for the National Football League to formally support and push for a name change for the Washington football team.”
Cantwell and Cole, along with numerous elected officials, civil rights organizations and Tribes across the nation have called on the Washington football team to change its name. Other prominent national organizations in support of a name change include the NAACP, National Council of La Raza, American Association of People with Disabilities, the ACLU, National Organization for Women, and the Anti-Defamation League.
The National Congress of American Indians, the largest organization representing Native Americans passed a resolution in October in support of a name change. NCAI has issued reports and studies showing the detrimental impact of the term on Native youth and communities. In the leadup to the Super Bowl, NCAI released a video entitled ‘Proud to Be’ that has been viewed more than 1.6 million times.