Opponents of the Washington Redskins team name are turning up the heat in their campaign to see the NFL team rebrand itself.
The Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation will run a 60-second ad during Tuesday’s NBA finals game. The ad will air in seven major TV markets, including Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and the team’s hometown of Washington, D.C. according to the Oneida Nation, a leading group involved with the Change the Mascot movement.
While a longer Web-only version of the ad has racked up 1.8 million views on YouTube, Tuesday will mark the ad’s first television appearance. The ad is designed “to educate the general public about Native American opposition to the R-word,” according to the Oneida Nation press release.
The ad, titled “Proud To Be,” features a series of names and phrases that many who identify as Native Americans use in celebration. “Native Americans call themselves many things, the one thing they don’t” the ads narrator says as the camera cuts to a Redskins football helmet sitting on an open field.
Yocha Dehe tribal leaders explained why they chose to get involved in the Change the Mascot campaign in a video released last week.
“In my opinion the R-word is as derogatory a slur as the N-word,” Chairman Marshall McKay said in the video.
“I think the Change the Mascot campaign will shed some well-deserved light on the trauma and the disadvantaged people on reservations and throughout the country that are Native American that really haven’t had this opportunity to talk about the pain and the anguish that this kind of racism puts us through,” McKay added.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder has repeatedly said he has no plans to change the team’s name, and he has insisted the name is a term of respect.
In March, Snyder announced the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, an organization tasked with providing “meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities.”
“We find their appreciation of history, legacy, caring for their elders and providing a better future for their youth inspirational and admirable.,” Snyder said, describing his meetings with other tribal leaders in a letter announcing the new group. “But the fact is, too many Native American communities face much harsher, much more alarming realities. They have genuine issues they truly are worried about, and our team’s name is not one of them.”
In May, the team leadership responded to a letter from U.S. Sen. Harry Reid urging a name change, which was echoed by dozens of other senators in a similar letter, by encouraging fans to show their pride for the name with a #RedskinsPride twitter campaign. The backlash to those pro-name efforts so overwhelmed its supporters that it was mostly panned as a failed effort.
Snyder has hired a Washington-area law firm to defend the team’s name, according to a report Monday from NBC Sports.