Daniel Snyder said Monday that he was moved by what he found on visits to Indian Country and claimed that's why he started a foundation to help tribes on reservations across the country.
"It's sort of fun to talk about the name of our football team because it gets some attention for some of the people who write about it who need (internet) clicks," the owner of the Washington Redskins said on ESPN 980, the radio station he owns. "But the reality is no one ever talks about what goes on, on reservations."
Snyder told Chris Cooley, a former Washington tight end who conducted the interview from the team's training camp in Richmond, Va.: "What I did see that got me and touched me and really moved me, and I think you know because you've visited a lot of reservations yourself, is the plight of Native Americans. Things that people don't talk about."
Snyder ticked off a list of woes, including high unemployment and issues involving health, education and the environment.
"No one wants to talk about that stuff because it's not cocktail chit-chat talk," he said. "It's a real-life need, real-life issues. I think they don't want to focus on that, and I dedicated an effort to do that. What I saw, and listened and learned, it moved me. … We would go back to the airport afterward and say, 'We've got to do something. We've got to help.' "
The team's Original Americans Foundation says it is working on 145 projects involving 40 tribes across the country.
"When you go out there — and I would just encourage people, the politicians that have fun with our football team's name — I would encourage them to go out there and learn and listen to really what's happening in Indian Country so they can help Indian Country. This is not PR. We do not have PR people doing this stuff. This is really genuine."
Snyder said he found that Native Americans on the reservations he visited are fans of his team and other pro teams with Indian names.
"They love this team," he said. "They actually have a tremendous amount of fans on reservations, not only for our team but for many teams that have Native American imagery: the Atlanta Braves, the Kansas City Chiefs, the (Chicago) Blackhawks. They really, really are proud of these teams, and I learned more of the truth."
Cooley began the interview by asking Snyder what it means to him "to be a Redskin?"
"It's honor, it's respect, it's pride, and I think that every player here sees it, feels it. Every alumni feels it. It's a wonderful thing. It's a historical thing. This is a very historical franchise."
Cooley also asked what Snyder would like fans to know, factually, about the name.
"I think it would be nice if — and forget the media from that perspective — really focus on the facts, the history, the truth," Snyder said.
Snyder told how his team's logo was designed by a tribal chief from Montana in the early 1970s.
"He helped create that logo that we all love, and that is one example of just the facts and the truth and the things that a lot of people ignore," said the owner. "And I think it's time that people look at the truth and the history and real meanings and look at us for what we are. We are a historical football team that is very proud and that has a great legacy and honors and respect people."
Snyder said he visited tribes in Arizona, New Mexico and South Dakota.
"We can do something big for Native Americans, and we can do something for Indian Country," he said. "We can bring to light a lot of the real-life issues, the real-life needs and things that are going on."
He spoke of the good things that his community foundation does in the Washington region.
"We don't really brag about it," he said. The Original Americans Foundation "is even more so that way. This is something that needs to be done. We were moved. It's something that in five years, in 10 years, in 15 years, in 20 years, we'll be very proud of."
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