Interior Secretary Calls Redskins' Name a 'Relic of the Past' That 'Should Be Changed'

The secretary of the Interior Department says she believes the Washington Redskins’ name must be changed, but stresses it’s still not a high priority agenda among tribes that face bigger problems.


In September, Secretary Sally Jewell told ABC News that “personally” she found it “surprising that in this day and age, the name is not different.”

“I think we would never consider naming a team the ‘Blackskins’ or the ‘Brownskins’ or the ‘Whiteskins,'” Jewell said, adding “my personal views are not necessarily reflected in the tribes that I talk to. It isn’t high on their agenda.”

Today on MSNBC, Jewell called the Redskins’ name “a relic of the past” that “should be changed, in my opinion.”

“There are many things that tribal leaders face, and when they talk to me, they’re talking about those things that I have control over or things that I have influence over, like their budgets, like Indian education, like coordinating the federal family to work together,” she added.

“I don’t control the name of a football team, but I think it’s very clear that it’s a name that is a relic of the past, and I think it’s time that the owners take a hard look at it.”

As Interior secretary, Jewell oversees the Bureau on Indian Affairs. On Wednesday, she’ll deliver remarks at the annual White House Tribal Nations Conference.


Panel discussions at the White House event will focus on topics such as climate change, education reform, economic developments and treaty obligations, the Interior Department said.

Jewell said she looking to put government in more of a supporting role in tribal affairs and “turn control of the things that tribes know they need most over to the tribes.”

“For hundreds of years, we’ve had trust and treaty obligations to our — our country’s first people, and yet, we have not fulfilled the obligations that we are supposed to under those trust and treaty obligations,” Jewell told MSNBC.

“One of the things this administration has really pushed, at the encouragement of tribal leaders, is self-governance and self-determination. It’s been a movement now for a few decades toward this, and we’re accelerating it forward through the work of the White House Council on Native American Affairs.”

This would include reforming Bureau of Indian Education schools that teach about 44,000 children. “Their academic performance is substantially below just about any other group of students,” Jewell said. “So we are not serving Indian children in the way that we’re really committed to do, and what we’re doing isn’t working.”


“So we are in the process of some very significant reforms, which actually involve turning control of those schools over to the tribes and then providing them with the kind of support that they need to do a much better job than we’ve been able to do.”

She’s pushing Congress for an additional $3 billion in funding in 2015 to bring these schools up to par. “I have been to a number of schools across the country, I’ve been to 20 different reservations, and pretty consistently, I see facilities that have gone without repairs for many years.”


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