Indian Country Today
The Washington NFL team dumped its controversial mascot earlier this year and now, it appears it has dumped its foundation created to help Native people.
The team will no longer make contributions to the Original Americans Foundation and will instead focus its charitable efforts on the Washington Football Charitable Foundation, USA Today reported this week. The Washington Football Charitable Foundation will continue to assist Native communities, according to the newspaper, but it’s unclear how.
“As part of our evolution into a franchise of the future, the Washington Football Team’s new leadership is reviewing our philanthropic strategy,” read a team statement to USA Today.
A spokeswoman for the foundation confirmed the shift away from the Original Americans Foundation and a new philanthropic strategy to Indian Country Today.
Julie Jenson said part of the strategy is working with advisors and leadership within the Native American community that is long term and sustainable. Strategy specifics haven’t been built out yet, she said.
In July, the team said it was retiring its logo and nickname, a dictionary-defined racial slur, after mounting pressure from activists and sponsors. It hasn’t made a public decision on a new name and is competing in this NFL season as the Washington Football Team.
The team launched the Original Americans Foundation in 2014. An announcement on its website from that time outlined its goals and cited its ability to “provide resources that offer genuine opportunities for tribal communities.”
According to the post, Synder and his staff traveled to 26 reservations in 20 states and met with 400 tribal leaders.
"The fact is, too many Native American communities face much harsher, much more alarming realities," Snyder said in the announcement. "I've listened. I've learned. And frankly, it's heart wrenching. It's not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans. We must do more."
It also noted the foundation had given a new backhoe to the Omaha Tribe of Nebraska, among 40-plus projects being processed that year.
USA Today reported that the foundation donated $3.7 million in its first year, $1.6 million in the second, $650,000 in the 2017 fiscal year, $303,000 in the 2018 fiscal year, and $0 in 2019. It’s unclear where the money was spent or which tribes benefited.
The NFL franchise is facing sexual harassment claims that were recently exposed by the Washington Post. The report names Original Americans Foundation Executive Director Gary Edwards as one of the franchise employees accused of sexual harassment.
Story has been updated to include comment from Washington Football Charitable Foundation
Dalton Walker, Red Lake Anishinaabe, is a national correspondent at Indian Country Today. Follow him on Twitter: @daltonwalker Walker is based in Phoenix and enjoys Arizona winters.
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