Tags: redskins | navajo | code | talkers | salute

Redskins' Navajo Code Talkers Salute Sparks Controversy

By David Ogul   |   Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 02:23 PM

The Washington Redskins are getting plenty of flak for the team’s Monday Night Football salute to a group of former Navajo code talkers at a time when the NFL franchise is under fire for what many say is a racially insensitive team name.

Native American groups have pleaded with the Redskins for years to ditch the team’s moniker, and even President Obama has weighed in, saying that if he were team owner Dan Snyder, he would “think about” changing the name.

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The Redskins were dominated Monday night by the San Francisco 49ers, but much of the discussion on social networking sites had nothing to do with the game. Instead, it was directed at the team’s decision to honor the Navajo Code Talkers Association as part of both the NFL’s Salute to Service month and Native American Heritage Month. Hundreds of Native Americans code talkers used their language to transmit coded messages during World War II, and they are credited with saving thousands of American lives.

Critics say the halftime event was insincere.

The Redskins say they will not budge on changing their name.

“We wonder why the protests are just about our 80-year-old Washington Redskins and not all the other teams,” the Redskins' lawyer, Lenny Davis, told the Washingtonian.

Davis added, “We are no different that fans of the Cleveland Indians or Chicago Blackhawks or the 'tomahawk-chopping' Atlanta Braves.”

In a commentary, Washingtonian writer Benjamin Freed wrote: “Hey, it’s great that anyone, much less an NFL team, is honoring the service of people whose communications skills were critical in the United States winning the Battle of Iwo Jima. But the NFL has been doing military tributes for several weeks, and November is Native American Heritage Month, so a night marking the accomplishments of Navajo code talkers makes fine sense. But the team that hosted them is still called 'Redskins.'”

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