(WASHINGTON) — Native Americans are sending a loud message to the Washington Redskins during Tuesday night’s NBA Finals.
A northern California tribe paid for a commercial to air in seven major U.S. cities during halftime, their latest plea for the NFL team to change its “racist” name and mascot.
“In my opinion, the ‘r’ word is just as derogatory a slur as the N-word,” Marshall McKay, chairman of the Yocha Dehe Wintun Nation, said in a video about the “Change the Mascot” campaign.
The minute-long commercial, called “Proud to Be,” is a shortened version of a similar ad that was posted online earlier this year. In it, a narrator lists adjectives that could describe Native Americans — “Indian,” “Navajo, “Sioux,” “Spiritualist,” “strong” — before the camera zooms in on a Redskins helmet, “the one thing they don’t” call themselves.
The ad, which premiered Sunday night in Miami during Game 2 of the NBA Finals, will reach its biggest audience yet Tuesday night when it plays in Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York, Sacramento, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.
The tribe wouldn’t say how much it paid for the prime TV spot, except that it was a “substantial” amount.
The video was produced by the National Congress of American Indians.
Despite a growing push to change their team name, the Washington Redskins have remained insistent that it must stay. Redskins President Bruce Allen recently wrote a letter to senators stating the team “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”
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