A United Nations Expert on Human Rights has weighed in on the Washington Redskins name controversy, urging Redskins owner, Dan Synder to change the name of the team.
James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous peoples, called the mascot a “hurtful reminder” of the long history of mistreatment of Native Americans in the United States, in a release.
Anaya said that while he understood the debate surrounding the team’s name, the term “redskins” is inextricably linked to a history of suffering and oppression.
“It is understood to be a pejorative and disparaging term that fails to respect and honor the historical and cultural legacy of the Native Americans in the US,” he said.
Snyder has consistently vowed never to change the team’s name.
Anaya’s comments on Friday were linked to a 2012 UN report on the state of Native Americans in the United States.
Besides the controversy over the Redskins name, the report noted that many stereotypes throughout American society still portray Native Americans as relics of the past, and he cited the use of Native American names by other high-profile sports teams. The report also points out that Native Americans continue to be portrayed as caricatures in pop culture and history and social studies education curriculum.
“The use of stereotypes obscures understanding of the reality of Native Americans today and instead help to keep alive racially discriminatory attitudes,” said Anaya.