Photo courtesy Gregg Deal
A fan of the Washington football team observes protesters Sunday at FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland.

Washington Football Fans: 'Go Back to the Reservation'; Hundreds Protest R-Word at FedEx Field

Simon Moya-Smith

It was the largest protest ever held at a home game.

On Sunday, hundreds of protesters gathered and marched outside FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland, to protest the name of the Washington football team. Many wore "RETHINK" T-shirts while others gripped banners that read, "Change The Name" and "Snyder Says 'Never' We Say 'Now!'"

Protest organizer and Washington, D.C.-based tribal attorney Tara Houska, Ojibwe, told ICTMN that people braved the early morning chill to send team owner Dan Snyder an unequivocal message that the R-word is a racially-motivated pejorative. Houska said although the day was a milestone in the campaign against the team name, many of the protesters were subjected to a barrage of expletives from fans.

Beer-drinking fans of the Washington football team smirk as they saunter by protesters on Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014, outside FedEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Photo courtesy Gregg Deal.

"[Yesterday] was a moment in history -- hundreds of Native people marched and rallied at FedEx Field, the so-called cathedral of the Washington team," she said. "While we were screamed at, sworn at, told to 'go back to the reservation', we greeted fans and handed out educational flyers. [And] as Washington brought their season to an abysmal end, we closed out the year with a reminder that we will not stop. Our movement will continue to grow stronger, grow louder. We are human beings, not mascots."

An unidentified fan of the Washington football team flips off protesters at FedEx Field on Sunday, Dec. 28, 2014. Hundreds gathered there to protest the team name. It was the largest protest at home game to date.

John Woodrow Cox of The Washington Post wrote that some fans stopped in front of the protesters and referred to their supposed Cherokee lineage to express their support for the name.

With a Redskins scarf around his neck, fan Darrell Pearson paused in front of the activists, pointed at his Ryan Kerrigan jersey and said: "Cherokee. Cherokee," wrote Cox.

Houska said fans also arrived to the game wearing headdresses that reached from head to toe.

In June, the U.S. Trademark and Trial and Appeal Board cancelled six the Washington football team's seven trademarks after it ruled that the team name is "disparaging to Native Americans."

Snyder said he will "NEVER" change the name.

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tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
We want to see more stories and/or articles on Reservation high Schools sporting events with the Red Mesa Redskins, Tuba City Warriors, Shiprock chieftains (all racially-charged, motivated mascots being represented by the American Indians).

builds-the-fire's picture
Submitted by builds-the-fire on
I wonder what part of his finger that "fan" of the football team thinks "honors" NIAs? I use "Indian" now because of the rationale expressed by Russell Means during his lifetime. Stop using the word Indian, and one day "they" will claim Indians no longer exist, thus no need to "honor" treaties that reference them. I consider myself an "ethnic" NIA because I can not say with certainty what tribe(s) my family are of...that knowledge hasn't been lost, just not "confirmed" in any way other than DNA. Having said that, it would be presumptuous of me to assume I could say what is and isn't offensive to NIAs. So, as an ethnic Indian, I look to those who have maintained tribal relations--and my own conscience--to educate me that the use of that word is offensive. Not knowing is one thing, but knowing that word is offensive and claiming you will "never" change the name is inexcusable. After what the Jews have been through, you'd think Snyder would be more sensitive to the plight of others, and more honorable.

alice9's picture
Submitted by alice9 on
Typo: "Trial and Appeal Board cancelled six the Washington football team's seven trademarks."