Washington announced on Friday its intention to conduct a “thorough review” of the team’s name. Which is a precursor, frankly, to changing the name. The National Congress of American Indians, which has been pushing for the change for years, has issued a statement acknowledging the development.
“We are encouraged by the Washington NFL team’s announcement that it will conduct a ‘thorough review’ of the team’s name and mascot,” NCAI president Fawn Sharp. “This moment has been 87 years in the making, and we have reached this moment thanks to decades of tireless efforts by tribal leaders, advocates, citizens, and partners to educate America about the origins and meaning of the R-word. NCAI looks forward to immediately commencing discussions with the league and team about how they will change the team’s name and mascot, and a prompt timetable for doing so. Indian Country deserves nothing less. The time to change is now.”
The statement doesn’t indicate whether the NCAI will welcome another name that directly or indirectly refers to Native Americans. As noted earlier, the NCAI may not want any Native American names or likenesses associated with the franchise — especially given the franchise’s chronic refusal to change the soon-to-be-former name.
Regardless, the NCAI will have an important voice in this process. More than polling or anecdotal claims or anything else, the NCAI serves as a representative and collective voice for Native Americans, and the group should have a seat at the table as a new name is selected.