Navajo Nation Council Formally Opposes Use Of Washington Redskins Name

April 11, 2014

The Navajo Nation’s legislative branch has voted to formally oppose the use of the name Washington Redskins. The measure passed the tribe’s council on a 9-2 vote on Thursday and was largely symbolic in nature. The move comes amid an ongoing national debate over the use of Native American names and imagery in sports team mascots.

Joshua Lavar Butler is the Navajo Nation councilman who sponsored the measure. He said the history of the word “redskins” is what makes the term and the NFL team mascot so offensive.

"Historically, the term comes from a time when bounties were offered for the murder of Native Americans," Lavar Butler explained. "For example scalps, skins, body parts, even genitalia of Native Americans or what they also called redskins were turned in for money by bounty hunters."

The council’s opposition extends only to professional sports franchises. High schools and colleges on the Navajo Nation will not be impacted.

James Anaya, a human rights expert with the United Nations has also condemned the use of the term, according to a statement released on Friday.