Albuquerque, NM, July 10, 2014 — Native American organizations and communities from across the country are calling on the Washington NFL team’s corporate sponsors to do what is right for America’s children, and cancel their sponsorship of the Washington football team, starting with Federal Express (FedEx).
This week, the Native Voice Network (NVN), a virtual community of Native American families and organizations, will launch a national public awareness campaign aimed at NFL sponsoring corporations, urging them to end their affiliation with a mascot and nickname that harms children.
“We hope Federal Express and other NFL sponsors are listening,” said Laura Harris, Executive Director of Americans for Indian Opportunity, the organizational host of the NVN.
The campaign will begin with a focus on the Washington team’s primary sponsor – Fed-Ex – and the network is calling on all the NFL corporate sponsors to do what is right for American youth.
“Sprint and Anheuser-Busch immediately pulled their sponsorships of the L.A. Clippers during the Donald Sterling debate, yet they continue to sponsor the Washington team name,” said Jennifer Varenchik, who is part of the virtual community. “Their actions scream hypocrisy. You can’t pick and choose when to stand up against racism.”
The American Psychological Association (APA) called for the immediate end to American Indian mascots based on research showing that mascots establish an unwelcome and often hostile learning environment for Native youth, and increases negative attitudes about Native youth by non-Native youth. The APA also found that mascots undermine the educational experience of non-Native students as well.
“The findings are clear. Racist mascots hurt Native youth who can’t afford for corporate sponsors to sit on the sidelines in this debate,” said Varenchik, who also and works with young people.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death for Native youth in the 15-24 age group—two and half times the national rate.
“Our communities are dealing with this crisis founded in the low self-esteem of our children,” Varenchik said. “When young people hear words like the ‘R-word’ and see dehumanizing images about our culture, they are directly impacted and often internalize these negative stereotypes, having detrimental effects on their school work and life choices.”
“The bottom line is that no community-minded corporation should sponsor a mascot that hurts American youth,” Varenchik said.
The Native Voice Network (NVN) seeks to amplify the voice of Native American families, which has been largely absent until now, in the Washington Team name-change debate. The first of many calls to action, the campaign will be the launching issue for the NVN. The NVN plans to grow the network and continue with a multi-issue platform that impacts Native families and communities far into the future.
The Native Voice Network is a collaborative network of Native American families and organizations that mobilize through Indigenous cultural values to inspire positive change in Native communities. The Native Voice Network was established in September of 2012, and is currently comprised of twenty-six (26) Native American organizations representing families and communities across the United States.
For a complete list of NVN member organizations please go to NativeVoiceNetwork.NationBuilder.com.
Organizations can sign up and become a part of the national NVN by contacting NVN Network Weaver Chrissie Castro at 323-420-6844 or Chrissie.Castro@gmail.com.