Indian Country Headlines for Monday, July 6, 2020

Daniel Snyder, owner of the Washington, D.C. NFL team. (Associated Press: File)

Indian Country Today

What's next for Washington, DC NFL owner; Baltimore's Columbus statue falls; Edmonton team reviewing name; Sacramento statue of Spanish missionary taken down

Could new name be beginning, not end, of changes in Washington?
Indian Country Today

Many believed that Washington’s name would change only after Daniel Snyder sells the team. Now, some are wondering whether Washington’s name change will be a precursor to Snyder selling.

The recent story from the Washington Post regarding Snyder’s absence from the organization and reliance not on employees of the team but a small circle of friends speaks not to dysfunction but to disengagement. It’s reasonable to wonder whether that disengagement could lead, eventually, to divestiture.

It’s also reasonable to wonder whether Snyder’s partners would like to see a change at the top. Robert Rothman, Dwight Schar, and Fred Smith reportedly hold 35 percent of the team. On Thursday, Smith took a public shot at Snyder, a move which by all appearances sparked the kicking-and-screaming decision by Snyder to relent from his all-caps-never stance on a new name.

If Smith is willing to take that kind of extreme step publicly against Snyder, it’s reasonable to wonder what he, Rothman, and/or Schar may be doing privately — not just to spark a name change but perhaps to grease the skids for Snyder to be gone.

Most fans of the team would welcome this development if it were to occur, since the 21 years of Snyder’s rule have seen a franchise that once won three Super Bowls with three different quarterbacks over a nine-year span become an also-ran, a non-contender, a bottom feeder that only periodically gets close enough to the surface to begin to see light.

Baltimore protesters pulled down a statue of Christopher Columbus 

Protesters mobilized by the death of George Floyd at the hands of police have called for the removal of statues of Columbus, Confederate figures and others. Using ropes and cheering the minute the statue hits the ground, protesters threw the statue into the city's Inner Harbor Saturday night.

They say the Italian explorer is responsible for the genocide and exploitation of native peoples in the Americas.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the statue was owned by the city and dedicated in 1984 by former Mayor William Donald Schaefer and President Ronald Reagan.

A spokesman for Baltimore Mayor Bernard C. "Jack" Young told The Sun the toppling of the statue is a part of a national and global reexamination over monuments "that may represent different things to different people."

"We understand the dynamics that are playing out in Baltimore are part of a national narrative," Lester Davis said.

Statues of Columbus have also been toppled or vandalized in cities such as Miami; Richmond, Virginia; St. Paul, Minnesota; and Boston, where one was decapitated.

Edmonton football team reviewing name

The Edmonton Eskimos say they’re ramping up their ongoing engagement with Canadian Inuit communities to assess their views on the team’s name. The Canadian football team’s board of directors said it had conducted a year-long formal research and engagement program with Inuit leaders and community leaders across Canada. It included meetings with Inuit leaders and community leaders in Iqaluit, Inuvik, Yellowknife and Ottawa; and a combination of in-depth interviews and a telephone survey with Inuit. 

"The consistent feedback was a desire for more engagement with the club," the team said in a statement. "There were a range of views regarding the club's name but no consensus emerged among the Inuit people.” The team said there was considerable support for the team’s name among Inuit in various parts of Northern Canada. 

Statue of missionary toppled in California protest

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — A statue of a Spanish missionary in downtown Sacramento has been toppled by demonstrators.

The Sacramento Bee reports the statue of Father Junipero Serra in Capitol Park was brought down Saturday amid a protest focusing on the rights and historical struggle of indigenous people.

The 18th century Roman Catholic priest founded nine of California’s 21 Spanish missions and forced Native Americans to stay at those missions after they were converted or face brutal punishment.

The California Highway Patrol cleared the park after the statue came down. The patrol will be investigating the statue’s removal as an act of vandalism, the newspaper reports.

Sacramento Bishop Jaime Soto denounced the toppling of the statue.

In a statement Sunday, Soto said “this act of vandalism does little to build the future."

“There is no question that California’s indigenous people endured great suffering during the colonial period and then later faced the horror of government-sanctioned genocide under the nascent State of California. This legacy is heartbreaking," he said. “Yet, it is also true that while Fr. Serra worked under this colonial system, he denounced its evils and worked to protect the dignity of native peoples. His holiness as a missionary should not be measured by his own failures to stop the exploitation or even his own personal faults."

Statues of Serra have been defaced in California for several years by people who said he destroyed tribes and their culture.

Last month protesters pulled down Serra statues in Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Navajo Nation reports 71 more COVID-19 cases, 2 more deaths

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Navajo Nation health officials have reported 71 additional cases of COVID-19 and two more known deaths.

A total of 7,804 people on the vast reservation that spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah have tested positive with 337 known deaths as of Saturday night.

Tribal Department of Health officials said reports from all 12 health care facilities on and near the Navajo Nation indicate that 58,440 people have been tested and 5,543 have recovered from COVID-19 .

The number of infections is thought to be far higher because many people have not been tested, and studies suggest people can be infected with the virus without feeling sick.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms such as fever and cough for most people. 

But for some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness including pneumonia, and death.

Tribal police and the New Mexico National Guard are enforcing a weekend curfew on the Navajo Nation as officials on the sprawling reservation continue to try to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The curfew that started at 8 p.m. Friday and expired at 5 a.m. Monday is the first of three consecutive weekend lockdowns on the reservation. 

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