Redskins Owner Daniel Snyder Creates Charity but Misses the Mark

The Washington Redskins owner refuses to change the team’s name, although Native Americans have said it is offensive, and now he has created the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation.

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Daniel Snyder 

Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

While the NFL set rules to issue fines over the use of the N-word, Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder still has no plans to lose the team name that many Native Americans have argued is a slur. Instead, Snyder is out to prove that the team moniker isn't offensive by creating a charitable organization called the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation, the Associated Press reports.  

Earlier this week Snyder said he's establishing a foundation to assist American Indian tribes, and the foundation will "provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities" for Native Americans.

"It's not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans," Snyder said in a letter to the team's fans. "We must do more."

Suzan Shown Harjo, a lead figure in a long-running case that seeks to strip the Redskins of their federal trademark protection, told AP that Snyder's move was "somewhere between a PR assault and bribery" and that the owner is showing the "same arrogance" he's shown before when defending the team name.

"I'm glad that he's had a realization that Native Americans have it tough in the United States," Harjo said. "All sorts of people could have told him that, and have been trying to tell him that for a long time."

The announcement did not say whether Snyder would make a financial contribution, and it gave no indication of whether he had plans to change the team's name.

President Barack Obama has even weighed in on the name controversy, telling AP in October that if he were the owner of the team, he would consider changing the name.

Harjo told AP that Snyder's insistence on keeping the name will undo, at least in part, the good that is done with the foundation's money.

"Will (the foundation) do much of anything? No. But it probably won't hurt," Harjo said, "except that it will continue the cycle of negative imaging of Native American people in the public arena."

In the letter, Snyder said he and his staff visited 26 reservations over the past four months. He listed poverty, illness, drug abuse, violence and lack of basic infrastructure as among the problems faced by Native Americans.

"I've listened. I've learned. And frankly, it's heart wrenching," the letter said.

Harjo was confused by the timing, considering Snyder has owned the team since 1999 but is just now reaching out to Native Americans.

"It's sort of an admission that he was losing the PR battle," she said. "So now he's gone out to find the real story—as if someone was hiding the real story about pressing needs in Indian country."

Read more at the Associated Press.

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