Target pulls merchandise as leaders ask NFL to force name change

This June 28 photo shows Washington NFL team merchandise at a Target store in Alexandria, Virginia. (Photo by Jourdan Bennett-Begaye, File)

Aliyah Chavez

Updated: Target pulls Washington NFL team merchandise from online store, Native leaders write letter to NFL Commissioner, president weighs in

Aliyah Chavez
Indian Country Today

President Donald Trump tweeted his support for the Washington NFL franchise Monday, the same day more than 14 Native leaders and organizations penned a letter to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell asking him to require the team to “immediately change” its name.

Meanwhile, major retail corporation Target joined Walmart and Nike in pulling merchandise of the Washington NFL franchise from their online shops. A Target representative confirmed to Barron’s, a financial and investment news organization, that merchandise was removed from its website as of Monday morning.

The letter from Native leaders asks the NFL commissioner to eliminate “any and all” Native imagery in the team’s logo, including Native terms, feathers and arrows, among a number of other “non-negotiable” requests. 

(Previous story: Washington NFL team’s Standing Rock moment)

The letter comes three days after Washington team owner Dan Snyder announced the NFL team will undergo a “thorough review” of its name.

Trump’s tweet Monday marked the first time he has weighed in since the formal review was announced.

“They name teams out of STRENGTH, not weakness, but now the Washington (deleted) & Cleveland Indians, two fabled sports franchises, look like they are going to be changing their names in order to be politically correct. Indians, like Elizabeth Warren, must be very angry right now!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The letter, signed by Suzan Harjo, Amanda Blackhorse, Notah Begay and others, outlines seven nonnegotiable requests of Goodell.

Other requests include discontinuing the citation of a 2016 Washington Post Poll and 2004 National Annenberg Election Survey that found Native people do not object to the team’s name. The surveys used “self-identification” to select Native respondents.

Amanda Blackhorse. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Blackhorse)
Amanda Blackhorse. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Blackhorse)

In addition, the three-page letter requests that the team’s name, a racial slur, be discontinued in print immediately, asking Goodell to encourage journalists and writers to use the name only with an asterisk.

“ … we expect the NFL to engage in a robust, meaningful reconciliation process with Native American movement leaders, tribes and organizations to repair the decades of emotional violence and other serious harms this racist team name has caused to Native Peoples,” the letter states.

The NFL and Washington team did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment from Indian Country Today.

Also included on the electronic letter were stakeholders including Nike, FedEx, Walkmart, Pepsi Co., the National Football League Players Association, Bank of America, Eleanor Holmes Norton and Muriel Bowser.

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Aliyah Chavez, Kewa Pueblo, is a reporter-producer at Indian Country Today's Phoenix Bureau. Follow her on Twitter: @aliyahjchavez or email her at achavez@indiancountrytoday.com

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