Native Americans who have spent decades fighting for D.C.’s NFL team to change its name reacted to the team’s decision Monday to retire the name and logo.
Natalie Proctor, a leader of the Piscataway tribe, said she still can’t believe it.
"I cannot tell you how many times we’ve sat and cried,” she said. “I’m sorry; I’m getting emotional."
Proctor said seeing a team shirt or logo brings up reminders of a painful past for indigenous people.
“They’d say, ‘These are red skins,’ to identify that they had in fact killed indigenous people,” she said.
Proctor spent more than 50 years calling for a name change, as her parents and grandparents did before her. They’ve since passed away. She wishes they could see what’s happening now.
"I really thought I would die and maybe my grandchildren might see that come to pass, but I did not think I would see that come to pass and I’m very happy to be alive at this time to see it," Proctor said.
Some say there’s still lots of work left to be done.
“It's been a long haul and will continue to be a long haul,” said David Glass, who leads the National Coalition Against Racism in Sports and Media.
He said they've asked more 3,000 teams to change offensive names over three decades.
Glass protested the name of Washington’s professional football team at the Super Bowl in 1992.
"We will take a bite out of bigotry,” he said. “We won’t get rid of it completely, but when we get through with this, we’re going to be a much better country."
The Piscataway tribe operates a cultural center in Waldorf. For years they’ve encouraged people to visit and learn more about the history of American Indians.