For many years, the Washington Redskins have been criticized for what some would call a derogatory team nickname toward Native Americans and tribal communities. And for many years, Redskins owner Daniel Snyder has vigorously defended the team's name.
Now, Snyder is taking things a step further with the founding of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation to aid Native Americans.
"The mission of the Original Americans Foundation is to provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities,” Snyder wrote in an open letter to fans posted on the Redskins website on March 24. “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.”
Snyder seemed especially saddened by the plights facing Native American and Tribal communities that he learned about firsthand.
"The stories I heard and the experiences I witnessed were of children without winter coats or athletic shoes; students in makeshift classrooms without adequate school supplies; textbooks more than decades old; rampant and unnecessary suffering from preventable diseases like diabetes; economic hardship almost everywhere; and in too many places too few of the tools and technology that we all take for granted every day—computers, internet access, even cellphone coverage,” Snyder continued writing in the letter.
He added that the Foundation has already distributed more than 3,000 winter coats to several tribes, and that 40 additional projects are currently underway.
“For too long, the struggles of Native Americans have been ignored, unnoticed and unresolved,” Snyder said. “As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions. We commit to the tribes that we stand together with you, to help you build a brighter future for your communities.”
Snyder expects to make the formal announcement of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation on Tuesday.
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(Photo: Ron Antonelli/Getty Images)