Washington's NFL franchise released a statement on Monday announcing that it would no longer use the Redskins team name. This decision prompted a wide variety of responses, but the National Congress of American Indians expressed happiness. Its president said that the NCAI is very happy about no longer seeing a name considered offensive.
Speaking with TMZ, NCAI President Fawn Sharp responded to the upcoming change. She said that it's an incredible feeling to know that Washington will no longer player under the team's previous name. Sharp noted that there are more than five million members of the Native American community spread across 574 tribal nations. She confirmed that the overwhelming majority felt that the Redskins name was offensive and that
"It's an incredible feeling," Sharp told TMZ. "There have been many generations of tribal leaders that have tried to raise the visibility, and it seems as if everything came together all in a perfect moment. It was a sacred moment opportunity, and when I thought about all the various pressure points, there was not a pressure point on the players. But I know players are men of faith or men of conscience."
Sharp also talked to TMZ about the Atlanta Braves baseball team potentially removing the Tomahawk Chop celebration from the stadium stands. The MLB franchise won't change its name, but it said that it would "work through" the longtime celebration. Fawn responded by explaining why the Tomahawk Chop is offensive to the Native American community, especially the younger generation.
"We have a generation that's being born into a society that's learning our languages," Sharp said. "For centuries we were punished for speaking our language. they're learning our song, our dance, our ceremonies. They're learning the value of cultural practices ... when they know the value of that and they see others making fun of it, it hurts them in a way that's even deeper than what we've experienced thus far."
While TMZ spoke to Sharp about the change, the Great Falls Tribune in Montana reached out to several members of the community. The outlet received split reactions as some expressed disappointment about the move while others said it was long overdue. This group includes Frank Kipp, the owner of the Blackfeet Nation Boxing Club, who told the outlet that he took pride in the team's name and logo when he was growing up.
"Growing up in Seattle, I faced a lot of racism from other kids. Me and my brothers always had to fight," Kipp said. "One of the things we had was a Redskins' football team patch on our coats. We found out that it was a Blackfeet logo, and we identified with that. We thought it was cool, and we were proud of it. I understand that people say it's a derogatory term, I just never took it that way."
Kipp's wife, Ember, said that she understands both sides of this longtime debate. She said that the team named itself after something "unbeatable and strong," which she saw as a compliment. However, Ember noted that the fans mimicking war cries and wearing war bonnets is an insult to the culture.