March 3, 2017
U.S. Secretary of the Interior
1849 C St. NW
Washington, DC 20240
Dear Secretary Zinke:
We, members of Rebrand Washington Football (RWF), urge you to not to extend the lease on the site of RFK Stadium for a new home for the Washington football team as long as that team’s nickname is a racial slur.
RWF was founded in 2015 by local football fans to advocate that the team adopt a new nickname, because the current one disparages Native Americans. Since then, RWF has generated support for a name change among local governments and the Washington-area religious community. The group also has worked with Native American activists who are advocating a change in the team name. RWF has circulated petitions demanding a name change, collecting over 3,400 signatures which were delivered to the team’s headquarters in two separate visits.
As you are aware, former Interior Secretary Sally Jewel, in her stewardship of the federal land on which RFK sits, stated that while she remained Secretary, the National Park Service would not grant the District of Columbia a new lease for a stadium on the RFK site unless the team changed its offensive nickname. RWF applauds this stance and hopes it will continue under your leadership.
The Washington football team’s name robs Native Americans of their identity. It is a dictionary-defined racial slur that refers to scalping. In our advocacy, we have met Native American parents who struggle with anger and disgust when they try to explain to their children why a team uses stereotypical Native American logos and names. Indeed, the American Psychological Association released findings in 2005 calling for the permanent discontinuance of Native American mascots based on a large body of scientific research concluding that these mascots are harmful.
For these reasons, we support the Interior Department’s past support for a name change, and we urge that this policy be continued under your leadership. A public statement from you that the Interior Department will continue to prohibit the use of its lands for activities that promote racist stereotypes would send a strong message in favor of tolerance and justice.
We look forward to your reply. We can be reached via firstname.lastname@example.org.