Mutual of Omaha plans to replace its longtime corporate logo, which for 70 years has featured a depiction of a Native American chief. The move comes as corporations and sports teams around the country face increasing pressure to dump nicknames and depictions that reference American Indians amid a nationwide movement calling for racial justice.
Harv Hilowitz, of Stone Ridge NY, began a two-year odyssey to rid his town of an overtly racist image that was on a major road for over thirty years. The image was on public property, on a field set aside for children. It was the mascot of the “Indian Valley Little League” in Kerhonkson, NY.
In 2017, Hilowitz decided to approach this Little League organization in a spirit of neighborliness, to see if the mascot, logo, and associated imagery could be amicably changed.
Hilowitz attended a board meeting to discuss the issue and left the meeting feeling hopeful. However, at a followup meeting the board voted unanimously to keep the sign and symbol.
Hilowitz continued his fight into the next sports season but was told the board would not revisit the issue. Instead he went to the NY State Human Rights Commission and, more successfully, the Ulster County Human Rights Commission, where he was again invited to a board meeting. The commission then sent a letter to the Indian Valley Little League, but it would take Little League International changing its rule book to make a difference.
In January 2019, after a two year effort, and with the help of the National Congress of American Indians, Hilowitz was informed that Little League International had decided to enact a new official policy in its 2019 Rulebook: “Little League (Int’l) prohibits the use of team names, mascots, nicknames or logos that are racially insensitive, derogatory or discriminatory in nature. Little League (Int’l) requires all chartered local league programs, volunteers, as well as regular employees, to comply with the policy outlined above. Disciplinary action to address violations of the policy outlined above will be determined in the sole discretion of either the Charter Committee or Little League management, as applicable.” See https://www.littleleague.org/playing-rules/rulebook-updates/
In recent weeks, Hispanics and Native Americans have made up an increasing proportion of covid-19 deaths. The disease now accounts for nearly 20 percent of all deaths among those groups, higher than any other race or ethnicity in recent weeks, according to a Post analysis of the CDC data.
Cleveland Indians owner says executives will meet with Native American groups to discuss name change
The owner of the Major League Baseball (MLB) team the Cleveland Indians announced Thursday that the team’s executives plan to meet with Indigenous groups to discuss its name change.
The Washington football team will simply compete as the Washington Football Team for the upcoming season, sources informed NBC Sports
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IMAGINING THE INDIAN Filmmakers’ Statement on the Washington Football Team Name Change
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 13, 2020)
The Filmmakers behind Imagining the Indian, a documentary film currently in production at The Ciesla Foundation about the movement to eradicate Native American names, logos and mascots in the world of sports and beyond, proudly join in the celebration of the Washington Football Team’s decision to end the use of the most offensive Native American racial slur in professional sports! The trailer for Imagining the Indian can be viewed at the film’s website, www.imaginingtheindianfilm.org.
“The Washington football team’s name will no longer be a racist slur after 87 years thanks to the activism in the Native American community, especially shown by Suzan Harjo, and the moral consciousness currently displayed in the corporate community. Dan Snyder finally joins two other DC sports owners, Abe Pollin and Ted Lerner, in adopting new names for their teams,” said co-director Aviva Kempner.
“The retirement of Washington’s name and imagery has been a long time coming. Now we move on to what replaces these things, and I am hopeful that this is done respectfully and responsibly,” added co-director Ben West.
The filmmakers are excited to celebrate this victory for the movement, but recognize that it is only a battle in an ongoing war against Native American mascoting. While the Washington Football team was the most well-known purveyor of this brand of racism, Native American mascoting is still a pervasive evil in American culture.
The filmmakers are hopeful that the next name of the Washington Football Team franchise will avoid any connection to the team’s past offenses, but the lack of inclusion of Native Americans in the process to select the next name is troubling.
“The team is taking a racist approach to solving a racist problem,” noted co-producer Kevin Blackistone.
“It’s telling that this change was prompted by the bravery of the nation’s young protestors challenging systemic racism and injustices rather than the owner who was given every opportunity to answer that same call,” explained co-producer Sam Bardley.
One down, which is next? Atlanta Braves? Cleveland Indians? Kansas City Chiefs? Chicago Blackhawks? Golden State Warriors?
The filmmakers are available for interviews.
# # #
Contact Ciesla at email@example.com, Aviva Kempner at firstname.lastname@example.org, 202-244-1347, Ben West at email@example.com, Kevin Blackistone at firstname.lastname@example.org, and Sam Bardley at email@example.com
The N.F.L. team in Washington announced Monday that it would drop its logo and “Redskins” from its name, yielding to sponsors and Native American activists who have long criticized it as a racist slur.
The team, one of the oldest in the N.F.L., did not announce a new name on Monday as it continues a review to evaluate possibilities.
According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, in discussions about a new name, Washington is planning to have “no Native American imagery.”
Major national retailers have stopped selling merchandise bearing the name and logo of the Washington NFL team as the team undergoes an evaluation of its name, which is widely considered a racial slur disparaging to Native Americans.
As of Monday, items were no longer available at Walmart, Target, or Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Three letters, signed by 87 investment firms and their shareholders (worth a total of $620 billion) were sent out asking Nike, FedEx, and PepsiCo to terminate their business relationship with NFL’s Washington DC team unless the team agrees to change its offensive name.
Director, Spike Lee, spoke on SiriusXM’s The Joe Madison Show on June 19th, saying NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, should approach D.C. team owner, Snyder. Lee also asked if a football team used the racial slur of any other group for their name if that would be allowed. If not, then why does the Washington D.C. team still have its title?
Witness the films traction, as several news outlets, subject matter experts and concerned citizens voice their support.
Kevin Blackistone, the co-producer of an upcoming film about the Washington Redskins and the push to change their name, explains why he has long been an opponent of the Redskins name.
Washington Should Avoid ‘Warriors’ or ‘Red Tails’ for New Team Name, ‘Imagining the Indian’ Directors Say
“I hope that it’s done responsibly. I think some of the names being kicked around right now are problematic, and anything including ‘Red’ in it, we need to start with a clean slate here, not try to hang onto any of the holdover from previous names and imagery,” West, a member of the Cheyenne nation, said of some of the popular options being floated around, such as Washington Warriors or Washington Red Tails. “In this case, the obvious problem is that if you replace the current name with that, aren’t all the same people in face paint playing Indian going to continue to do the same thing?”
Blackstone, one of the co-producers’ of a documentary film in production called “Imagining the Indian” about the movement to eradicate Native American names, logos and mascots in the world of sports and beyond, applauds the name change decision, but there is concern over the team’s messaging.
A discussion of the latest news in the football team’s name change and how indigenous communities have been stereotyped with Kevin Blackstone, Ray Halbritter and Tom Sherwood.
The Wrap – Washington Should Avoid ‘Warriors’ or ‘Red Tails’ for New Team Name, ‘Imagining the Indian’ Directors Say
Directors Aviva Kempner and Ben West, whose film focuses on the fight to change the team name, told TheWrap that team owner Dan Snyder’s decision retire the name is a huge step in the right direction, but they hope the team will start from scratch in picking a new name and logo and avoid anything equally offensive.
Blackistone is one of the co-producers’ of a documentary film in production called “Imagining the Indian” about the movement to eradicate Native American names, logos and mascots in the world of sports and beyond. While Blackistone and the other filmmakers behind “Imagining the Indian” applaud the name change decision, there is concern over the team’s messaging.
Our producer, Kevin Blackistone, discusses the latest news in the football team’s name change and learn how indigenous communities have been stereotyped on The Kojo Nnamdi Show.
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