An Open NFL Letter - Navajos Respond to Two Parliament Members' Unfounded Redskins Concerns

Dear Commissioner Goodell,                                                                                                  Feb 26, 2016


I read yesterday that two members of Parliament have decided to join the ill-informed anti-“Redskin” name-change campaign and voice their concerns.


It seems that Parliamentary members Ruth Smeeth and Ian Austin don’t know that the “ChangeTheMascot” group who met with them last month were simply the front of an organization which is both funded by gambling cash and centered on achieving the radical philosophy of DeColonization. 


If you’ve never heard of DeColonization before, you must know that it is a philosophical-based movement that seeks to remove ALL native images and names from any non-native entity to include eventually taking back all North American lands.  In this case, a casino mogul, certain political interests and one shoe company with anemic North American sales have figured out how to work together in co-opting this disturbing movement for its own political and financial gains.


I wonder if these two European-based politicians know that they have joined forces with a $17 Billion dollar European shoe manufacturer in calling for a team name change.  But isn’t it ironic that Adidas maintains its name as a derivation of its founder “Adi” Dassler who was both a Nazi Party member and maker of footwear for the German armed forces -- a group that attempted to destroy the culture of the British people much like casino mogul Ray Halbritter is doing to those who are attempting to maintain our proud and positive Redskin heritage. 


Further, both Adidas and these MPs have been silent for years as professional rugby teams with indigenous-based names such as Zwarte Duivels, Diablos Rojos, the Amazons or Os Tupis routinely come to England. Moreover, Smeeth and Austin must realize that London has its very own professional Redskins team which, amazingly, was founded in the very same year as Washington D.C.’s team.


Hypocrisy aside, according to the protest letter the MPs sent to you, the two politicians claim that they had come to “learn” that the name Redskins pertains to “the production of a piece of flesh as proof of kill by bounty hunters.”  While here in America even the expert testifying for name change in the Trademark hearing was quoted as saying that Redskins, “…didn’t have anything to do with those stories about bounties for bloody Indian scalps.”  


In fact, the research done by the Smithsonian Institute on the origin of “Redskin” was prompted, in part, by this claim.  Linguistic researchers there found no evidence to support the “scalp” means Redskin claim.


So, while this often-repeated canard is protected speech in the United States, British Law may yet hold Halbritter’s “changethemascot” visitors in Contempt of Parliament as it’s illegal to deliberately mislead a member of their legislature or a legislative committee.


Unfortunately, the uninformed, or those with an agenda, have routinely stripped our unique Native American identities.  We’re guessing that Smeeth and Austin belong to the “uniformed” group but could use your assistance, Commissioner, in reaching out to them.


You might note back to them that our Navajo children attend not one but two local high schools which proudly call themselves the Redskins.  And please pass along that, as a Navajo, I’ve been taught the existence of a red “world”; and that our war dance - ushered by our Navajo gods Nayenezghani and Tqobajishchlni - demands the painting our warrior’s skin with red clay.  By the action of this sacred ceremony alone we become literal Redskinned warriors, which is of great cultural importance when facing down evil spirits or our enemies.


Smeeth and Austin need to comprehend that our “red” concepts are powerful and meaningful within our society and have been passed on for generations.  They should know that many of our continent’s native nations self-describe as Red-skinned, Red People, or Red Painted People, including members of the Apache, Choctaw, Houma, Beothuk, and Red Fire just to name a few.


What Smeeth and Austin fail to realize is that we are as distinctive in our dress, language, and customs as Romanians are from Norwegians, or as British are from Italians.  It’s insensitive to lump us all together and assume we all think or act as monolithic people as the Halbritter group would like them to believe.  Their politically expedient sentiment does not represent the Navajo or any other red-centric Native American.  It is not appropriate for them to weigh in on this topic.  And they certainly do not speak on our behalf of the 90 percent of Native Americans who told the Annenberg School of Public Policy that they had no issue with the name.   


These points may seem trivial to them, but I assure you that they are of vital importance to our people.  Once our red culture is snuffed out here in the United States . . . it will be gone forever as we have no European Continent to retreat back to when we desire a strong dose of our original culture as so many others can. 


It’s worth remembering that, in 1710, a Native American delegation visited England’s Queen Anne to educate her on the issues of North America.  Likewise, on behalf of the Native American Guardians Association, I challenge Smeeth and Austin to learn about our ways—all of our ways, not just the talking points of an agenda-driven special-interest group.  I propose the MPs Smeeth and Austin fly us to London and extend the same courtesy to hear our side of the Redskin story much as they did to those well-funded activists who visited them to demean the Redskins in their continuing push for DeColonization. 




Mark Yellowhorse Beasley

Navajo, Phoenix Az.

Also standing in support of this letter and its message are Navajo Nation members:

Jonathan Tso Crystal Tso Aaron Henderson Jeff Charley  Shelby Benally Lisa Benally


2.28: Your letter is on point, and I strongly endorse our fight to keep our Native  (Fist People) culture and traditions alive! We must continue this fight to preserve our Native history to ensure that our walk in  this sacred circle of life that our tracks are deep with purpose and we can look back and truly say: "may you walk in this sacred circle of life make a difference in the walk of another - especially our children."


Chief Walt "Red Hawk" Brown

Cheroenhaka  (Nottoway) Indian Tribe




14 comments (Add your own)

1. Janine Vandenberg wrote:
I am a full blooded Native American from the Tsimshian Nation. I am appalled at your thinkings! Do you not understand that racism is taught! what an educated , ill gotten, self centered person come to the reservation and teach you racism! You are pushing mother earth's teachings and knowledge off to the side, and learning Ways of other humans. I thought I would never see the day when the Native Americans have decided to put their dirty laundry out in the public world! we were not touch that way and we were not thought to cause Trouble in the world! Mother earth taught us to get along as best we can with every human being, animal and the earth. Now you are showing weakness by living by other people's ways! I am very embarrassed by your behavior as in many other Native Americans that do not live with low self esteem and know who they are and know that nobody can hurt us unless we allow them to! is urban native have ventured out into the world and have realized I have to be proud of my heritage to be the Native American I was born to be. I know racism is taught and you are not born with that knowledge. I refuse to deal with it because I get stuck in the middle all the time with a Caucasian and Afro Americans raging about racism. please drop this ill gotten knowledge that you were taught by somebody that is very uneducated and only is looking out to get their name as famous by causing issues among the natives. they are teaching you ways of the world and I am embarrassed that you are willing to learn them and to live by them.
Ray Halbritter a Native American by birth was taught the ways of the world and he went against his own family and removed them from being known as a Native American so they no longer are allowed any of the privileges that the Native Americans are allowed to have. are you also one of those dirty Native Americans that have chosen to hurt their own people?

February 26, 2016 @ 5:02 PM

2. Jill wrote:
I am an American citizen with European heritage, primarily Scotch Irish. My ancestors came here with nothing but a dream for freedom and the willingness to work hard to build a life for their families. For generations, both my family and my husbands family have carried with us a deep admiration and respect for the Native American people who settled this land before us. We would be so very proud to join with you in voicing our support for your rich and admirable heritage as brothers and sisters. To us, the Native American peoples are an integral link in our American story. Your letter touches my heart. With kind wishes and respect, Jill

March 1, 2016 @ 11:21 AM

3. John Reilly wrote:
The so called 'Indians', the only true Native Americans have been getting screwed from day one. They were kicked off their lands and told where to live then when gold, silver or whatever was discovered there were kicked out again. When they built Casinos on their Reservations the Government tried to put the kibosh on that. What a disgrace.

March 1, 2016 @ 11:24 AM

4. Bane Tyler wrote:
As a boy growing up we played cowboys and Indians. I always likes the Indian side for their strength and determination. I also grew up in Northern Va. and rooted for the Washington Redskins!
Once in my life I had the opportunity to travel through an Indian Reservation in Idaho ( I think), while I saw a little of their living conditions, I must say it looked depressing. Our government surely hasn't done them any favors.
While I do not know if our Native Americans are saving their Heritage , I hope they are. Once it is gone it will be lost forever. They are a special people of America regardless of the difficulties during the settling of America. What we are doing to them is a disgrace.

March 1, 2016 @ 1:27 PM

5. Bonnadee wrote:
I am American of Mediterranean ancestry. I totally support you and have great respect for Native Americans. I realize there has been much past persecution that still continues to this day.

March 1, 2016 @ 2:16 PM

6. John Galvin wrote:
Native American Chiefs including the NAVAJO Chief Helped our GREAT Coach GEORGE ALLEN Design the GREAT CHIEF LOGO.....The NAME REDSKIN is a PROUD Name used when our BRAVE INDIAN Warriors would use RED Clay to DYE their FACES RED before BATTLE against the WHITE MAN to put the FEAR of GOD in them....And it DAMNED SURE PUT THE FEAR of GOD in Them.....So STOP taking away our HISTORY ...HERITAGE...& PRIDE...To satisfy your liberal/communist AGENDA. !!!!!

March 1, 2016 @ 2:32 PM

7. John Galvin wrote:
This Picture at the REDSKIN GAME a few years ago was a Promotion By the WASHINGTON POST to Promote their ANTI REDSKIN Agenda....They Invited some of the Surviving NAVAJO CODE Breakers & Family Members to a GAME and asked them to Dress like Native Americans....Well these GREAT People knew they were going to be used for A PROPAGANDA Stunt....So they wore their REDSKIN APPAREL ...Blew the WASHINGTON POST Propaganda Right outta the WATER.....I LOVED IT....The Liberals were FURIOUS.....

March 1, 2016 @ 2:48 PM

8. Weston Zach wrote:
A very well written letter. Very well explained. God bless you sir.

March 1, 2016 @ 2:55 PM

9. Boffa Deez wrote:
I like it how you have a couple Urban Natives chiming in on how they are offended but when you ask a Native from the Rez they love the Redskins logo and always have . All my inlaws are Diné from NM and I am Nakai . I asked them what they thought of this whole thing a while back and you wanna know what pisses them off the most ? That people tell them what they should and shouldn't be mad and upset with. That how the fuck does a person who has never stepped foot on the Rez tell others that the Natives are offended ? To tell you the truth Half of them are Redskins fans and the other half is Cowboys fans ! Wtf ? Stop this white guilt and move on to more important things on thr Rez like education, health care, alcoholism, fucking running water . You wanna speak for them you can start there.

March 1, 2016 @ 4:12 PM

10. jim stevens wrote:
AS a naturalized American born in England I arrived in the states in 1960 at the ripe old age of 17 it took a few years to learn some of the American customs, as for red skins their customs and heritage was pretty simple honor and care for family and community this makes for a beautiful people. Everyone should spend some time to visit some of the museums and monuments that are dedicated to tribal nations you will find some amazing things about their history customs and beliefs particularly Chief Crazy Horse monument in South Dakota.

March 1, 2016 @ 8:09 PM

11. William Synnott wrote:
I have never had the opportunity to speak directly with a Native American on the issue of the Logo.
Before I knew its history of design it always brought the image of a strong warrior to mind. A guardian of his tribe.
Its a great logo and one that makes us think of the past , not forget it, and to think of the warriors that it honors.
Plain and simple its an uplifting picture and thought to represent the Native Americans. Why remove a piece of history that makes you think of them. Should we forget them ? No asolutely not. Should we forget the tragedies of their peoples , absolutely not. But to remove a National symbol of them you weaken the memory of the warriors that roamed this land in the past , and the warriors we still have here now.

March 2, 2016 @ 12:48 AM

12. Brent wrote:
I've only been a redskins fan for thirty years, but I've been half Apache my whole life, and I gotta tell you the reason im a redskins fan is because so many of my mothers people were Redskins fans. I was proud to stand by them and for this team.. I'll always be a Redskins fan, and I hope Dan Snyder continues to fight to keep the name.. HTTR!!

March 2, 2016 @ 2:16 AM

13. Steve wrote:
I wish no ill health on any man BUT my Redskins flag will be flying proudly when Ray Halbritter meets his maker , he has cause nothing but hurt to his own people , has told lies about the meaning of our Beloved Washington Redskins , has made millions poisoning people with his booze and tobacco empire, thrown His native people from their lands in order to make money and to think we now have members of the British British parliament trying to get their 2 pence worth in is STUPID ... HAIL WASHINGTON REDSKINS From the Emerald Isle ...

March 13, 2016 @ 3:41 PM

14. wrote:
Amazing! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It's on a totally
different subject but it has pretty much the same page layout and design. Excellent choice of colors!

May 3, 2018 @ 10:58 AM

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