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‘Redskins’ Name Hit by Navajo Nation, UN Expert

The Navajo Nation Council voted to oppose the use of the Washington Redskins name, while a United Nations human rights expert said separately that the term is “inextricably linked to a history of suffering and dispossession.”

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Washington Redskins helmet. (Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images)

The Council’s committee of the whole voted 9-2 Thursday to oppose the name. The measure was sponsored by lawmaker Joshua Lavar Butler, who says the word can have negative psychological effects on American Indians. The statement of opposition also applies to what Butler says are disparaging references to American Indians in other professional sports franchises.

It does not apply to college or high school mascots. The mascot for at least one high school on the Navajo Nation is the Redskins.

On Friday, James Anaya – a UN expert on indigenous people’s rights – said the football team’s name is a “hurtful reminder” of the mistreatment of Native Americans, but stopped short of joining in calls for the team’s owner to change the name.

Last month, team owner Dan Snyder said he was creating a foundation to assist American Indian tribes but gave no indication he had plans to change the name, which he says honors Native Americans.

On Friday, Anaya urged Snyder to “consider that the term `redskin’ for many is inextricably linked to a history of suffering and dispossession.”

Anaya says “it is understood to be a pejorative and disparaging term that fails to respect and honor” Native Americans.

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