washington football team

For Native American Activists, Washington NFL Name Change Not the End of Their Fight

It took decades for the football team in Washington to remove the derogatory name from FedEx Field, giving local Native Americans  - and those throughout the United States who had long pushed for change - a win in what seemed like an endless fight. 

"With Mr. Snyder, what put the pressure on him to change the name? Money talks and that's what he realizes. And he realizes that he's fighting a losing battle. And that's the bottom line," Chief of the Piscataway Indian Tribe Billy "Redwing" Tayac said to ABC News.

Residing in Accokeek, Maryland, Chief Tayac has been fighting for a name change since the 1980s when he said he was one of the first plaintiffs in legal action aiming to force Washington to choose another name. After the franchise's field sponsor, FedEx, put public pressure on the organization to change its name - coupled with the national protests against racial injustices - Snyder finally gave in. 

While Chief Tayac's trailblazing efforts laid the groundwork necessary to get to today, modern activists like Laguna Pueblo and Omaha Tribe member Mary Phillips continue to fight for justice.

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"And so it's always been, you know [difficult], trying to educate people to understand that this word, this team celebrates actually celebrates the color of my skin by saying that it is red," Phillips said to ABC News' Abby Cruz. "In the grander sense of things, it's so evaporating from people's minds that they don't even realize how racist it really is."

Survivors of generational injustices and discriminatory practices from the United States government, both Chief Tayac and Phillips know the fight isn't over just because the NFL franchise in D.C is now called the Washington Football Team. 

"Whether anybody likes it or not, I'd like to say this is our country. This is where God put us there. And nobody is gonna shove off of it," Chief Tayac said.

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For Native American activists, Washington NFL name change not the end of their fight originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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