Published April 22, 2017
ONEIDA NATION NEW YORK – The Change the Mascot campaign is expressing its extreme disappointment in the National Football League for its decision to have the Washington NFL team host the first-ever Thanksgiving Day game in franchise history during the upcoming season.
Change the Mascot leaders Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata issued the following statement:
“On the very holiday that is supposed to be a time for our nation to reflect upon our country’s history and the many contributions of Native people, it is incredibly disheartening to see the NFL instead support the continued promotion of a dictionary-defined racial slur that degrades Native Americans.
“During Thanksgiving in 2017, an offensive and damaging epithet will be broadcast over the airwaves to millions of viewers nationwide.
“The R-word is a dictionary-defined racial slur that has demeaned Native peoples for generations, and continues to do so today. Its use is not a victimless crime, and should not be tolerated on any day in 2017 – but certainly not on a holiday intended to celebrate the very people it damages and degrades.”
Change the Mascot is a grassroots campaign that works to educate the public about the damaging effects on Native Americans arising from the continued use of the R-word. This civil and human rights movement has helped reshape the debate surrounding the Washington team’s name and brought the issue to the forefront of social consciousness. Since its launch, Change the Mascot has garnered support from a diverse coalition of prominent advocates including elected officials from both parties, Native American tribes, sports icons, leading journalists and news publications, civil and human rights organizations and religious leaders.