WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVR) – Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder has established the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation in an effort to improve the lives of Native Americans. Snyder said he created the foundation after he met with Native American tribes around the country to discuss their feelings about the Washington Redskins team name and mascot.
“They have genuine issues they truly are worried about, and our team’s name is not one of them,” Snyder wrote in a letter emailed to Redskins fans. “The more I heard, the more I’ve learned, and the more I saw, the more resolved I became about helping to address the challenges that plague the Native American community. In speaking face-to-face with Native American leaders and community members, it’s plain to see they need action, not words.”
Issues Snyder highlighted in this letter included:
- Poverty rates and job opportunities on reservations
- Rampant diabetes, alcohol and drug abuse, violence, and heightened suicide rates
- Lack of basic infrastructure on Native American reservations
“We’re glad that after a decade of owning the Washington team, Mr. Snyder is finally interested in Native American heritage,” the Oneida Indian Nation and Change the Mascot campaign said in response to Snyder’s letter. “We are hopeful that when his team finally stands on the right side of history and changes its name, he will honor the commitments to Native Americans that he is making.”
Snyder said the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation quietly began its work earlier this year.
“As the bitter Arctic winds swept across the Plains this winter, we distributed over 3,000 cold-weather coats to several tribes, as well as shoes to players on boys and girls basketball teams,” he wrote. “We assisted in the purchase of a new backhoe for the Omaha Tribe in Nebraska. The Tribe will now be able to complete the burial process for their loved ones even in the coldest winter months, as well as assist in water pipe repairs which, without a functioning backhoe, has left the tribe without water — for days.”
The foundation has 40 more projects in the works Snyder said.
The Washington Redskins recently built a new football team training center in Richmond. This summer will be the second summer the Washington Redskins hold summer training camp in Richmond.