Battle Creek area tribal leaders are celebrating the announcement by the Washington Redskins NFL team that they have dropped that nickname and will change it in the coming weeks.

A release from a local group that works to remove such monikers from sports teams and in other areas of the American landscape praises efforts that led to the change:

"The Native American Heritage Fund (NAHF) celebrates the retirement of the racist Washington NFL mascot. This is a moment for all Indigenous people to celebrate the steadfast position taken by our Elders, Tribal leaders, and activists who have led this movement. This is an important step in closing a painful chapter of using a racial slur which disrespects and dehumanizes Native people."

“We sincerely hope that yesterday’s announcement is one step in a continued journey to create change across our nation, in which derogatory and dehumanizing mascots are retired and we enter a new chapter in which the culture, history and value of all people is equally respected and celebrated,” said NHBP Tribal Council Chairperson Jamie Stuck, who also serves as the Chair of the NAHF Board.

The group says they commend the bold stance by FedEx, who announced that unless the team changed its name, the shipping giant would remove its signage from the team’s stadium after the 2020 season, six years before the deal’s expiration. They say they believe that without this courageous action, the team’s owner would have taken many more decades to decide to do the right thing.

Only a few hours after the FedEx announcement, Nike, a major corporate sponsor of the Washington team, removed all merchandise connected to the team from its online store and issued a statement supporting the name change. Shortly after, PepsiCo and Bank of America, who are also major sponsors, each announced that they, too, wanted the mascot and logo changed. Amazon, Target and Wal-Mart also pulled Washington’s merchandise from their websites.

The NAHF says the financial pressure put on the Washington team by these corporate giants was the final straw in bringing about this momentous change and we want to recognize every one of the corporations for having the courage to stand for what is right and just.

It states that the real work of educating people about the damage done by using a racial slur as a mascot and a caricature for a logo has been led by Native American groups and activists who stood up to say, “Change the Name!” and “We Are Not A Mascot!” We honor their tireless efforts and say Migwéch (thank you) for working to bring about change that will provide an environment for the next Seven Generations that is respectful and inclusive of the dignity of all people.

The NAHF says it is committed to incentivizing similar changes at local levels within the state in order to help schools reduce this damage and create a more healthy, safe and productive learning environment.

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