The endorsement of the Washington Redskins’ nickname by seven World War II Navajo Code Talkers has set off a firestorm on the Navajo Reservation and beyond.
Indian Country Today Media Network reports outrage by descendants of code talkers and others, much of it directed at Navajo Code Talkers Association president Peter MacDonald, and much at Redskins owner Dan Snyder.
Reports of the NCTA endorsement showed up on Facebook late in the afternoon of February 28, and the news spread quickly. Here are a few typical posts.
“People are crying. I almost threw up when I read it.”
“Sad day… so much for honor.”
“Rather give more attention to the medicine man association… code talkers have become nationalist puppets and fall for anything.”
Several Navajo descendants and other Navajo citizens expressed suspicion about MacDonald and his motives. Their common theme was, “He divided the Nation.” A former Navajo Nation president, MacDonald was removed from office by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1989 under suspicion of accepting kickbacks from contractors and corporations.
The ICTMN story, by Gale Courey Toensing, said MacDonald sees nothing racist about the Redskins name, and thinks there are far more pressing problems in Indian Country.
“You press people! I don’t know what’s wrong with you! We have so many issues with Native American people – states, the federal government stealing our water, taking our land. There’s poverty and high unemployment on Indian reservations. Why don’t you go over there and report those things? Is the change of [the] name going to change poverty on Navajo? Will that create thousands of jobs?
“There’s the cancer rate, as well as diabetes, alcoholism, the suicide rate – all much higher than outside society. It’s a third-world nation in the back door of the United States. Report that!”
Toensing’s story is also highly critical of Snyder’s attempts to woo support in Indian Country for the NFL team’s nickname.
- Vince Devlin