National protests over the enduring name of the Washington’s football team have picked up steam thanks to an advertising blitz funded last summer by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation in Yolo County.
The wealthy tribe, which operates the Cache Creek Casino Resort, kick-started a television campaign against the Redskins team name by funding television commercials in multiple television markets during the NBA finals between the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs.
On Sunday, Native Americans and other protestors were gathering outside the NFL showdown at Levi’s Stadium between Washington and the San Francisco 49ers.
Passions on the issue of the Redskins name have been focused in part by a poignant commercial produced by the National Congress of American Indians and funded by the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation.
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The advertisement, titled “Proud to Be,” offers a video tribute to Native American heritage and multiple tribes. It concludes: “Native Americans call themselves many things.” Then it adds, “The one they don’t,” and shows a helmet bearing the Washington Redskins logo without uttering the name.
In a video describing the advertising campaign, Marshall McKay, the chairman of the Yocha Dehe Winton Nation, said the local tribe supported the effort because it wanted to underscore how Native Americans are “affected by racism” and to “draw attention to the pain.
“In my opinion the ‘r word’ is as derogatory slur as the ‘n word,’ McKay said. “This name comes directly from bounty hunting. This is how severe this name is to us. When this name first came to be, it was a vehicle for people to bring the victims of violence into an office so they could collect a bounty.”
Tribal secretary James Kinter said, “The change the mascot movement is larger … than any one tribe. It is about all tribal people and non-tribal people raising their voice in protest.”