Navajo Medicine Men Pass Anti-Redskins Resolution

Gale Courey Toensing
3/17/14

The Navajo Nation’s traditional medicine men have taken a stand against the cruel and racist name of the Washington, D.C.’s football team.

The Diné Medicine Men’s Association (DMMA) passed a resolution urging President Barack Obama and lawmakers to do whatever it takes to change the Washington Redskins name. The resolution also appealed to Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly to support the banning of the racist name through the Nation’s legislative process.

The association is “a council forum of Indigenous men and women created to protect and preserve the traditional practices of the Diné Nation,” according to the group’s website.

The resolution adopted at a meeting at the Chinle Indian Health Service Center, in Chinle, Arizona, on November 17, 2013 by a vote of 10-1 with one abstention and signed by DMMA President Henry Barber, who could not be reached for comment immediately. Indian Country Today Media Network received a copy of the resolution on March 13.

The medicine men’s resolution surfaced in a two-week period that saw three major Redskins-related events at Navajo. On February 28, the Navajo Code Talkers Association adopted a controversial resolution to endorse the use of the racist team name by a 7-0 vote that did not include the consent of all 40 members, many of whom said they were not notified of the meeting.

Related: Whitewashing Redskins Tour Gets Navajo Code Talkers Assoc. Endorsement

That endorsement prompted Navajo Council member Joshua Lavar Butler to introduce a proposed bill in the Navajo Nation legislature to oppose the Redskins football team name and authorize Navajo President Ben Shelly and other officials to speak out against it and other racist sports names on behalf of the Navajo people.

Simultaneously, the Navajo Human Rights Commission passed a supporting resolution recommending that the Navajo Nation Council oppose the use of "disparaging" references to Native people in professional sports franchises and urging the Navajo government to use the United Nations Guiding Principles on Businesses and Human Rights and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) when addressing the rights of Navajo people.

Related: Navajo Council Member Introduces Anti-Redskins Bill

In an opening “whereas” clause leading up to the resolution statements, the DMMA explain the moral imperative that is driving them to oppose the offensive name.

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