In the words of Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, the name of his NFL franchise is "not an issue" for Native Americans. The 49-year-old billionaire called on critics of his team's name and iconography to "focus on reality" in his latest statement on the controversy.
"We understand the issues out there, and we're not an issue," Snyder said on Tuesday, via the Associated Press. "The real issues are real-life issues, real-life needs, and I think it's time that people focus on reality."
Whether Snyder approves or not, the name is an issue for Oneida Indian Nation representative Ray Halbritter.
"If Dan Snyder thinks it is acceptable for a billionaire to market, promote and profit off of a dictionary defined racial slur, then he’s living in an alternate universe," Halbritter said in response to Snyder's latest remarks, per CBS DC. "If he wants to focus on reality, here’s a reality check: the longer he insists on slurring Native Americans, the more damage he will keep doing to Native American communities, and the more he will become synonymous with infamous segregationist George Preston Marshall, who originally gave the team this offensive name."
Snyder's comments on Tuesday echo what he wrote in a letter in March introducing the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation. Snyder said the foundation will "provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities." In the letter, Snyder said he visited 26 Tribal reservations and learned that Native American communities have "genuine issues they are truly worried about, and our team's name is not one of them."
The AP reported that Snyder did not directly respond on Tuesday to those who have criticized the foundation as a public relations stunt, like Native American golfer and Golf Channel analyst Notah Begay III. Begay told USA Today Sports on Tuesday that he thinks Snyder's foundation is "more of a gimmick" and an attempt to "offset some of the public disdain for the name of his football team."
"The Washington football team's front office has tried to make the issue about them and it's really not about them," Begay said. "It's about, unfortunately, the NFL and its owners and its corporate partners condoning use of that word. I don't think if a similar racially offensive word was used for the Hispanic, African American or Jewish communities that it would be tolerated."