As part of Dan Snyder’s ongoing battle with the perception that his football team’s name is racist, the Redskins owner is doubling down by establishing a foundation in honor of doing nice things for Native Americans, mostly for the purpose having a handy counter to detractors.
In a letter disseminated on Monday night, the team announced that Snyder and team officials have spent months (months!) traveling to 26 tribal reservations in 20 states to gauge the needs and overall issues with the team name. Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians chairwoman Mary L. Resvaloso commented to Redskins officials regarding the name, “I believe God has turned this around for something good.” Even though that implies that at one point the name was bad, it apparently isn’t anymore because God!
As loyal fans of the Washington Redskins, I want you to know that tomorrow I will announce the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.
The mission of the Original Americans Foundation is to provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities. With open arms and determined minds, we will work as partners to begin to tackle the troubling realities facing so many tribes across our country. Our efforts will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need most. We may have created this new organization, but the direction of the Foundation is truly theirs.
Lest you think this is all cynically planned window dressing, the good deeds have already started:
As the bitter Arctic winds swept across the Plains this winter, we distributed over 3,000 cold-weather coats to several tribes, as well as shoes to players on boys and girls basketball teams. “It’s been one of the coldest winters on record,” Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman Boyd Gourneau told me. “The entire Tribe is so appreciative of the coats we received for our youth and elders. It’s been such a great relationship, and we hope it grows.”
We assisted in the purchase of a new backhoe for the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska. The Tribe will now be able to complete the burial process for their loved ones even in the coldest winter months, as well as assist in water pipe repairs which, without a functioning backhoe, has left the tribe without water — for days.
Coats! Some of the money for a backhoe! You can’t tell me that’s not enacting meaningful change. (Also, it might have helped the team unload some unsold merchandise).
While some of the cynical among us might dismiss Snyder’s efforts as calculating and overcompensating, hey, I don’t see any of you buying a backhoe! Also, he’s been doing this for months (months!) with nary a PR blitz to promote his goodwill.
Because I’m so serious about the importance of this cause, I began our efforts quietly and respectfully, away from the spotlight, to learn and take direction from the Tribal leaders themselves. In addition to travelling and meeting in-person with Tribal communities, we took a survey of tribes across 100 reservations so that we could have an accurate assessment of the most pressing needs in each community.
That’s right; Dan Snyder asked which tribe needed a backhoe before helping to buy that backhoe, because spending the money when they don’t actually need it would be kind of wasteful and embarrassing. Wait, did I say embarrassing? I meant honoring.