Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) had a sharp response to a simple invitation to attend a football game.
Washington Redskins manager Bruce Allen responded to recent Senate criticism of the team’s name with a letter to Reid late last month.
“More than a decade ago one of the foremost scholars of Native American languages, Smithsonian Institution senior linguist Ives Goddard, spent seven months researching the subject and concluded that the word ‘redskin’ originated as a Native American expression of solidarity by multi-tribal delegations that traveled to Washington to negotiate Native American national policies,” Allen wrote, adding that the team’s logo was designed by Native American leaders in 1971.
“The highly respected Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania surveyed Native Americans nationally and reported that an overwhelming 90% of respondents said the name was not offensive,” he continued. “More importantly, Native Americans continue to embrace and use the name and logo.”
Allen added that they’ve visited reservations in more than 20 states and were “warmly received” by tribal leaders “on every occasion.”
The Redskins also responded to the controversy by launching a foundation that helps tribes in more than 40 projects across the country in its first two months, including distributing more than 1,000 tablet computers to students.
“I hope you will attend one of our home games, where you would witness first-hand that the Washington Redskins are a positive, unifying force for our community,” Allen said.
In a letter last Thursday, Reid fired back in a letter about Allen’s “invitation to attend a Washington, D.C. football team event.”
“During my time in the United States Senate, I have worked to right many of the injustices endured by Americans throughout the country. Among the most egregious in the history of our country are those injustices inflicted upon American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians,” Reid wrote.
“This is personal for me. I represent 27 tribes as the Senator from Nevada and have worked to protect their homelands and their sovereignty. I have a duty to ensure that the United States uphold centuries-old treaty and trust obligations towards Native Americans, and I take this responsibility very seriously.”
Reid vowed to “not stand idly by while a professional sports team promotes a racial slur as a team name and disparages the American people.”
“Nor will I consider your invitation to attend a home game until your organization chooses to do the right thing and change its offensive name,” he said.