Representatives of a foundation run by the owner of the Washington Redskins traveled to an American Indian reservation straddling the Arizona-California border this week to talk about financing projects aimed at preserving language and culture and curbing suicides among youth.
But the presidents of the Quechan Tribe and a tribal nonprofit group raising money for a skate park said Friday that they won't take any money from the Original Americans Foundation. They said they believed representatives of the foundation had a motive beyond helping tribal members in need.
"No, we're not going to accept any kind of monetary offer to side with allowing them to utilize the inappropriate name for this NFL team," tribal President Keeny Escalanti Sr. said.
Redskins owner Dan Snyder is facing unprecedented opposition from those who consider his team's name a racial slur. Snyder has said it honors American Indians and started the foundation earlier this year to assist tribal communities that often face high rates of unemployment and poverty.
Redskins spokesman Tony Wyllie said the foundation discussed eight projects with the Quechans, but he declined to discuss specifics of the meetings on the Fort Yuma reservation. The foundation has partnered with 40 other tribes on more than 145 projects and would continue to do what it can for those in need, he said.
Kenrick Escalanti, president of Kwatsan Media Inc., said he also met with representatives of the foundation on Wednesday to discuss a $250,000 skate park. He said the representatives showed up with renderings for a skate park that featured the Redskins logo and the team's colors — burgundy and gold — and offered to build the skate park and keep the partnership secret.
Escalanti refused the offer. He equated it to a bribe and "blood money," referring to a time when bounties were placed on American Indians.
"The sacrifice we took to say no wasn't an easy one," he said. "We wish we could help the kids today by taking the partnership. We're trying to teach our community and the youth that we can do things the right way. We don't have to accept this type of money from these people."