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March 24th: A Letter from Dan Snyder

Washington Taylor beat Panthers

Dead Money

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Hey I got an email from my buddy Dan... Just thought I'd share it here....

seems like he might be doing what a lot of us suggested?


March 24, 2014
To Everyone in our Washington Redskins Nation:

Several months ago I wrote you about my personal reflections on our team name and on our shared Washington Redskins heritage. I wrote then – and believe even more firmly now – that our team name captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.
In that letter, I committed myself to listening and learning from all voices with a perspective about our Washington Redskins name. I’ve been encouraged by the thousands of fans across the country who support keeping the Redskins tradition alive. Most – by overwhelming majorities – find our name to be rooted in pride for our shared heritage and values.
“There are Native Americans everywhere that 100% support the name,” Torres-Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Chairwoman Mary L. Resvaloso told me when I came to visit her tribe. “I believe God has turned this around for something good.” She told me that it was far more important for us to focus on the challenges of education in Native American communities. I listened closely, and pledged to her that I would find ways to improve the daily lives of people in her tribe.
What would my resolve to honoring our legacy mean if I myself—as the owner of and a passionate believer in the Washington Redskins—didn’t stay true to my word? I wanted and needed to hear firsthand what Native Americans truly thought of our name, our logo, and whether we were, in fact, upholding the principle of respect in regard to the Native American community.
So over the past four months, my staff and I travelled to 26 Tribal reservations across twenty states to listen and learn first-hand about the views, attitudes, and experiences of the Tribes. We were invited into their homes, their Tribal Councils and their communities to learn more about the extraordinary daily challenges in their lives.
“I appreciated your sincerity to learn about our culture and the real-life issues we face on a daily basis,” Pueblo of Zuni Governor Arlen Quetawki told us after we toured his reservation. “I look forward to working together with you to improve the lives of Native Americans in any way possible."
The more I heard, the more I’ve learned, and the more I saw, the more resolved I became about helping to address the challenges that plague the Native American community. In speaking face-to-face with Native American leaders and community members, it’s plain to see they need action, not words.
Yes, some tribes are doing well. And in our candid conversations, we learned that we share so much with Indian country. We find their appreciation of history, legacy, caring for their elders and providing a better future for their youth inspirational and admirable.
But the fact is, too many Native American communities face much harsher, much more alarming realities. They have genuine issues they truly are worried about, and our team’s name is not one of them. Here are just a few staggering, heartbreaking facts about the challenges facing Native Americans today:
-- The official poverty rate on reservations is 29 percent, as determined by the U.S. Census.
36 percent of families with children are below the poverty line on reservations, compared with
9 percent of families nationally. Jobs are scarce, and so is genuine opportunity.
-- Rampant diabetes, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, and heightened suicide rates afflict Native American youth, adults, and veterans. Life expectancies in high poverty Native American communities are the lowest anywhere in the Western Hemisphere—except for Haiti.
-- Tribal reservations can lack even the most basic infrastructure that most Americans take for granted. For example, according to the independent, highly respected Millennium Project, 13 percent of Native American households have no access to safe water and/or wastewater disposal, compared with just 0.6 percent in non-native households. Similarly, 14 percent of homes on Native American reservations have no electricity, compared to just 1 percent among non-native households. It is hard to build for a better tomorrow without the basic needs of today.

These aren’t rare circumstances. These are the unfortunate facts found throughout Indian country today.
I’ve listened. I’ve learned. And frankly, its heart wrenching. It’s not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more.
I want to do more. I believe the Washington Redskins community should commit to making a real, lasting, positive impact on Native American quality of life—one tribe and one person at a time. I know we won’t be able to fix every problem. But we need to make an impact.
And so I will take action.
As loyal fans of the Washington Redskins, I want you to know that tomorrow I will announce the creation of the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.
The mission of the Original Americans Foundation is to provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities for Tribal communities. With open arms and determined minds, we will work as partners to begin to tackle the troubling realities facing so many tribes across our country. Our efforts will address the urgent challenges plaguing Indian country based on what Tribal leaders tell us they need most. We may have created this new organization, but the direction of the Foundation is truly theirs.Our work is already underway, under the leadership of Gary Edwards, a Cherokee and retired Deputy Assistant Director of the United States Secret Service, as well as a founder and chief executive officer of the National Native American Law Enforcement Association.
Because I’m so serious about the importance of this cause, I began our efforts quietly and respectfully, away from the spotlight, to learn and take direction from the Tribal leaders themselves. In addition to travelling and meeting in-person with Tribal communities, we took a survey of tribes across 100 reservations so that we could have an accurate assessment of the most pressing needs in each community.
The stories I heard and the experiences I witnessed were of children without winter coats or athletic shoes; students in makeshift classrooms without adequate school supplies; text books more than decades old; rampant and unnecessary suffering from preventable diseases like diabetes; economic hardship almost everywhere; and in too many places too few of the tools and technology that we all take for granted every day—computers, internet access, even cellphone coverage.
In the heart of America’s Indian country, poverty is everywhere. That’s not acceptable. We have so much, yet too many Native Americans have so little.
Our work has already begun:
-- As the bitter Arctic winds swept across the Plains this winter, we distributed over 3,000 cold-weather coats to several tribes, as well as shoes to players on boys and girls basketball teams.
“It’s been one of the coldest winters on record,” Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman Boyd Gourneau told me. “The entire Tribe is so appreciative of the coats we received for our youth and elders. It’s been such a great relationship, and we hope it grows.”
-- We assisted in the purchase of a new backhoe for the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska. The Tribe will now be able to complete the burial process for their loved ones even in the coldest winter months, as well as assist in water pipe repairs which, without a functioning backhoe, has left the tribe without water -- for days.
These projects were the first of many and we currently have over forty additional projects currently in process. We look forward to telling you more about these as our work proceeds.
For too long, the struggles of Native Americans have been ignored, unnoticed and unresolved. As a team, we have honored them through our words and on the field, but now we will honor them through our actions. We commit to the tribes that we stand together with you, to help you build a brighter future for your communities.
The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation will serve as a living, breathing legacy – and an ongoing reminder – of the heritage and tradition that is the Washington Redskins. I’m glad to be able to launch this vital initiative today.
With Respect and Appreciation,

Dan Snyder
P.S. Throughout this journey, there have been many incredible moments. One of my favorite fan moments took place in Gallup, NM – to the cheers of dozens of Washington Redskins fans. As Pueblo of Zuni Governor Arlen Quetawki noted, “We even had an unprompted welcoming party of Washington Redskins fans from Zuni and Navajo greet you when you departed from the airport!” The passion and support for the Burgundy and Gold throughout the country has been overwhelming.

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Shi no Tenshi

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Now that is how you tell anybody whining about offensiveness, or meanness, or any other pithy thing to suck it.

I salute you for this, Mr. Dan Snyder. For doing the right thing, not just letting cheap words sit in the place of useful action. That's how you improve people's lives.
 

Boone

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I have no doubt he'll get slammed and ridiculed on a number of fronts - and it doesn't matter what he does, whether the effort is sincere and genuine, or even if his efforts actually result in positive forward progress for Natives.
 

Dead Money

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You're right John...unfortunately. You know freakin Florio is tapping away at his NBC provided laptop just trying to figure out how to turn this into a hate piece for the ages. Who cares. He's doing something positive when everyone else is doing everything negative. After visiting some reservations and meeting people, this makes me smile.
 

tshile

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Sorry....He sent it to me first...we're friends on firstbook, tweedle and instadouche
That's alright. I don't want to be friends with that jackass anyways! ;)

I think he did the right thing. As long as he actually made those trips and talked to those people. If you're going to do this you better do it right, otherwise you're setting yourself up to be the punching bag of the media; which he's already done a pretty good job at it.

Question is - did he do it right or not? Hope he did. Sounds like he did.
 

Boone

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It can't be a 'one and done' - the effort has to be real, sustained, and significant. He does that, and it's going to be very hard to paint him and the organization as demeaning to natives. Honestly, I think it's a smart move, but it also irks me that he had to even go this route. Because the name is not and never has been an epithet. And whether or not he ever gave a dime or raised a finger to assist Native Americans isn't relevant to that basic fact.
 

tshile

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It can't be a 'one and done' - the effort has to be real, sustained, and significant. He does that, and it's going to be very hard to paint him and the organization as demeaning to natives. Honestly, I think it's a smart move, but it also irks me that he had to even go this route. Because the name is not and never has been an epithet. And whether or not he ever gave a dime or raised a finger to assist Native Americans isn't relevant to that basic fact.
Well another way of looking at it is maybe this is his way of trying to end the epithet debate once and for all? Maybe in 15 years this will never be a conversation again, and instead it'll be looked at as a bit of a contention time where something positive came out of it?

High hopes, I know.

I agree. It has to be real and sustained. I don't know how significant it needs to be, but it needs to be have an impact somehow. He's also going to have to balance the fine line of advertising the foundation and what it does, and not going over the top and making it come out phony.

The letter was a good first start, but the bar is high for this one.
 

Dead Money

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It can't be a 'one and done' - the effort has to be real, sustained, and significant. He does that, and it's going to be very hard to paint him and the organization as demeaning to natives. Honestly, I think it's a smart move, but it also irks me that he had to even go this route. Because the name is not and never has been an epithet. And whether or not he ever gave a dime or raised a finger to assist Native Americans isn't relevant to that basic fact.
I wholeheartedly agree John, at first blush I was pissed that he's had to make this effort too, but if it helps what's going on in real people's lives, then just awesome. We all know karma is a little in the favor of the "George Preston Marshall was a bigot" crowd. Dan, if committed, is going to get himself out from that shadow. I met quite a few people who felt like it was "their team" and this reinforces that a little too. Of course after hearing the negative spin everyone is about to put on this in the media, I'll grow tired again...but for now I cannot see this as a negative as long as he has committed himself 100%
 

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A few thoughts. Some won't go over well here, and some will. First, the bad:

1. Dan's owned the team for 15 years, and is just now learning about the strife faced by Native Americans. That's weak. Someone who has supposedly used the name "to honor" Native Americans would have learned about this 12-15 years ago. Up until this point, he hasn't done crap. So everything out of his mouth on this matter up until this point has been complete bs.

2. Had this name controversy not blown up to epic proportions, would Dan likely have done anything differently to help in the next 15 years? Probably not.

3. If Dan had actually done something 12-15 years ago, this name controversy probably wouldn't have ever become this big.

And now, the good:

4. I'm glad that he's finally doing something--even if his hand was forced.

5. I'd like to see something much more substantial, like 50 college scholarships. Like asking corporate sponsors to kick in financial aid. Like asking fans to contribute. Tennis shoes are a start, but he can do so much more. I hope this is only the beginning.

6. He's in a very high profile position, and he has an incredible opportunity to make things a lot better for a ton of people. I'd love to see him impress.
 

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It's a sports team name. Should the Chicago Bears spend money ensuring Grizzlies aren't abused and are protected? Dan Snyder bought a football team that had a name with a proud tradition, and which symbolized only one thing - tough, gritty, tenacious competitors. It's never meant ANYTHING but that. Dan Snyder isn't responsible for Native Americans. He's not responsible for their lot, their suffering, their struggles, or even how 'they feel'. The PC bullshit that is so entrenched in peoples thought-processes is just beyond out of control.

If you're so angst-ridden about it, why don't you contribute 10% of your income McD5 to improve the lot of Native Americans? You don't, because you have no reason to.

And neither does Dan Snyder.

He's doing this because it's the only thing the team could think of to quell the politically-driven 'cry' (such as it is) to change the name. I'm even willing to bet that the sentiment behind the effort is as much to give his politically-correct critics a big EFF YOU, as much as it is a sincere act of generosity. And frankly, I think that's perfectly fine and appropriate. If some good comes out of the effort - that's fine too. But the idea that he 'owes' Native Americans one damn thing because some political activists are trying to manufacture an epithet out of a proud NFL team name is ludicrous. He owes them nothing. And he doesn't deserve to be judged on his efforts to 'support' Native Americans any more than any of us do.

Sorry - but that's the way I see it.
 

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I do think most fans will see it your way and I can respect that. I said this would be the only way to make it go away last year and I think it's a smart PR move. It could even be driven by sincere motives although I'm more skeptical about that. It won't stop Snyder's enemies from beating him over the head with the 'name issue' though. The Post is already back at it.
 

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You make valid points Boone.

I just like honesty and sincerity. He's shown neither.

I bet you've learned more about bee-keeping in two months, than Dan Snyder learned about Native Americans in his first 14 1/2 years here.

Which is fine. He may not have had any obligation. But he claimed otherwise.

So let's just tell the truth, and call it what it is. Dan wasn't using the name to "honor" Native Americans. He was using the inherited name to make money off a collection of fans who feel a strong attachment to the name and organization of years past.
 

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He's also a lifelong fan - that can't be disputed. He loves the team name for all the reasons most other Redskins fans do.

I have very little knowledge of Native American history. I'm a football fan. Where do you get the weird idea that because someone owns a football team with a given moniker that they somehow owe some sort of 'tribute' or 'ransom' to prove their good intentions. It's really a strange belief brother....
 

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He's also a lifelong fan - that can't be disputed. He loves the team name for all the reasons most other Redskins fans do.

I have very little knowledge of Native American history. I'm a football fan. Where do you get the weird idea that because someone owns a football team with a given moniker that they somehow owe some sort of 'tribute' or 'ransom' to prove their good intentions. It's really a strange belief brother....
I don't believe they have to. But he's claimed many times that he's always tried to honor them. Now, he admits to finally trying to learn about them.

You have a lot of interests--cooking, bee-keeping and brewing to name just a few. You've studied them. You actually put forth some effort to learn about those things. A lot of time and effort in each one of those interests.

How can someone honor a group of people they literally know nothing about?

Up until just recently, he's shown no visible signs of interest in them. None. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

And again, that's fine. But he claimed he was honoring them. In truth, and in sharp contrast to you and all of your interests, he knew nothing about them.
 

Ax

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Snyder not knowing about the plight of Original Americans puts him in the same boat as 95% of current Americans.

Boone's assessment of the situation is spot on.

Cold starving Indians don't give a hoot in hell what twidiots are talking about.
 

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A few thoughts. Some won't go over well here, and some will. First, the bad:

1. Dan's owned the team for 15 years, and is just now learning about the strife faced by Native Americans. That's weak. Someone who has supposedly used the name "to honor" Native Americans would have learned about this 12-15 years ago. Up until this point, he hasn't done crap. So everything out of his mouth on this matter up until this point has been complete bs.

2. Had this name controversy not blown up to epic proportions, would Dan likely have done anything differently to help in the next 15 years? Probably not.
Snyder pretty much says that the name controversy has caused him to pay more attention to the issues facing Native Americans today, and because of that he's interested in becoming more active in helping that community. I don't think raised awareness is a bad thing.

3. If Dan had actually done something 12-15 years ago, this name controversy probably wouldn't have ever become this big.
Had Dan not been a total tone-deaf butt-head when initially confronted with this issue, his overtures now would be far more readily welcomed. But there's nothing he can do about that now.

I don't know how genuine any of this is, but it's really the best way to battle the name issue at this point. Doesn't mean it will work, but it's the right way to go, in my opinion.
 

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Ive thought about this question I have in my head overnight and I want to ask it to the board.

does it matter how genuine it is? If you are a member of a tribe that is helped by Snyder and this organization, do you even care if its just for publicity or genuine?

It means food in my belly, clothes on my back, heat in my house, possible better education. Personally, if it was me, I wouldn't care if he was doing it to impress a woman, an alien told him to, or whatever. I am getting help.
I don't know. A lot of people find the concept of buying support distasteful. Helping people who are downtrodden by giving them nominal financial aid in exchange for political support is considered patronizing and oppressive in it's own way, is it not?

That said, I still think this is the best choice for Snyder. Though given his past jerkwad-ery it's an uphill climb.
 

tshile

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Ive thought about this question I have in my head overnight and I want to ask it to the board.

does it matter how genuine it is? If you are a member of a tribe that is helped by Snyder and this organization, do you even care if its just for publicity or genuine?

It means food in my belly, clothes on my back, heat in my house, possible better education. Personally, if it was me, I wouldn't care if he was doing it to impress a woman, an alien told him to, or whatever. I am getting help.
No, it doesn't matter, but for a different reason.

The people that want the name changed aren't interested in anything other than having the name changed. They're the equivalent of political extremists - it's their way or no way, because their way is the only right way. There is no compromise possible. They're not interested in it.

I'm curious how many of those people have donated their time and money to help with the issues the Native Americans face - anecdotally I don't believe anyone I know that's demanding the name be changed has donated any of either.

To play a game you have to understand the rules - the rules for this game are that one side wants the name changed and that's all that will make them happy.

Whether it's genuine or not has no bearing, because these people don't care about the plight of the Native Americans or whether or not someone is putting in effort to fix it or how those efforts are going. They're interested in having the name changed.

First thing this morning someone I know commented on the letter and already started attacking the idea. I told him I didn't want to hear it - there's no pleasing his kind on the issue and I'm just flat out not interested in their opinions on it anymore.

The best we can hope for is that this sort of thing is successful so that it erodes away the support from the Native Americans to have the name changed. The less support the people calling for the name to be changed have from the community the name supposedly disparages the better for those of us that want the name to stay.

Engaging those people on the topic of this foundation is a losing proposition though. The other side has to be interested in conversation, and open to compromise, otherwise it's just a waste of time and you only risk making yourself look bad.

The people being helped probably don't care, but again they aren't the people bitching about the name to begin with. They recognize they have far more serious issues.
 

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