Alabama-Coushatta Tribe responds to Washington Redskins alumnus’s comments about Tribe supporting mascot name

Alabama-Coushatta Tribe responds to Washington Redskins alumnus’s comments about Tribe supporting mascot name

As Washington Redskins owner Daniel Snyder continues to receive pressure from the White House, the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), The Navajo Nation Council and other Native American groups to change the team’s mascot because it is “a disparaging reference” to American Indians, former Redskins kicker and Livingston, Texas, native Mark Moseley continues to defend the name, having recently spoke out on the matter on Alex Parker’s segment SportsTalk on Washington D.C.’s News Channel 8.

Moseley, 66, who was a kicker for Stephen F. Austin State University and the Redskins, for 13 seasons, said Sunday, Aug. 3, “Most of us thought it would just blow over. It’s come up before, and it is the most ridiculous thing you could ever have. … If it was Indians, then I would be concerned. But everyone that’s said anything to me has been a white man or a black man. No red men have said anything derogatory to me about it.”

Moseley and several other Redskins alumni have been traveling to Native American reservations across the United States advocating the mascot.

“All these reservations, almost 90 percent of them have an organization on their reservation called the Redskins that use that as their rallying cry. Schools, almost every reservation has a school that has an organization on it called the Redskins.”

Moseley even cited the local Alabama-Coushatta tribe as an example of Native Americans who support the name.

“I personally grew up with the Alabama-Coushatta Indians down in Texas,” Moseley told Parker. “They were 10 minutes outside of town. So I’ve been around Indians all my life, and when I came to the Washington Redskins, it was elation in the reservations. They loved the fact that I was playing for the Indians. They considered it an honor.”

The Alabama-Coushatta tribe responded to Moseley’s comments in an Aug. 7 release by the Tribe.

“Former Washington Redskin and Livingston, Texas, native Mark Moseley has recently become engaged in the media debate over the use of the mascot ‘Redskin.’ During his time as a member of the Washington Redskins, Mr. Moseley sustained a relationship with the Alabama-Coushatta Tribe, and he suggests the Tribe considered it an honor for him to play for the ‘Indians.’ Tribal members went to school and played football with Mr. Moseley, and he has attended functions on the Reservation in the past. The Tribe continues to be proud of a local person that made it to the highest levels of professional sports.”

While the response seemed to be partially supportive, Tribal Council Chairman Ronnie Thomas states that the Tribe has not voiced an opinion in support of the mascot, as Moseley seemed to suggest in his interview with Parker.

“The Tribe and Tribal Members took great honor in the fact that Mr. Mosely played in the NFL, and he played in a time when the mascot debate was not an issue,” said Thomas. “Times have changed, and the Tribe has not advocated for or against the use of the Washington mascot. The Tribe has more pressing demands such as providing our Tribal people adequate health care, higher educational opportunities, struggling with unemployment, and preserving our culture. While Mr. Moseley once associated with the Tribe, it is incorrect to say that the Tribe supports his efforts to maintain the mascot name.”

The Tribe goes on to state that “the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) and the United South and Eastern Tribes (USET) are two of the largest Native American organizations in the country and both have been adamantly opposed to the Washington mascot name. The Alabama-Coushatta is a member tribe of both organizations, and the Tribal Council supports the position that NCAI and USET has taken.”

NCAI released a statement following the reported comments by Washington D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray outlining criteria that conversations on a name change are central to the return of the NFL’s Washington football team to RFK Stadium and the District of Columbia (The Redskins left RFK in 1996 to play at FedEx field in Landover, Md., but in 2013 began discussing a possible move back to D.C.)

“NCAI supports Mayor Gray’s statement that the NFL’s Washington football team should only return to the nation’s capital when the team’s name is changed,” the NCAI said in a release. “It’s time for the NFL and the Washington football team to join the 21st century and leave the mockery and racism of the past where it belongs — in the past.”

Penobscot Indian Nation Chief Kirk Francis explained why the mascot name is hurtful to Native Americans in a USET release.

“For the Penobscot Indian Nation, this is a deeply rooted issue,” Chief Francis said. “For three decades, the Massachusetts Bay Colony called for a handsome bounty for Penobscot Indian men, women, and children. When the hunters brought in the scalps for their money, buyers would ask, ‘How many redskins do you have?’ Indian Country continues to take steps to be heard in an effort to bring an end to the use of this disparaging term once and for all.”

Moseley claims tradition is key in the matter and recently told Associated Press writer Joseph White that “somebody would have to drop a bomb on FedEx Field to get us to change” the mascot name.

However, other sports teams have made changes to controversial Native American-related names, especially in the college ranks. St. John’s University changed their mascot from the Redmen to the Red Storm in 1994. University of Louisiana at Monroe changed its mascot from the Indians to the Warhawks in 2006, as did Siena College, Newberry College and even Stanford University, who are now known as the Cardinal.

Arkansas State University, a Lamar University opponent the Cardinals played in their Sun Belt Conference days, changed its mascot name from Indians to Red Wolves in 2008.

Arkansas State University Vice President for Strategic Communications and Economic Development Jeff Hankins told the Examiner, “The university received both positive and negative feedback from various constituencies,” and “a committee was formed that ultimately recommended the name change to the chancellor.”

Hankins also said that the university was “compelled to change the name because of the NCAA policy that was adopted to ban the use of American Indian mascots by sports teams during its postseason tournaments.”

The university seems to have faced little backlash for changing the mascot from Indians to Red Wolves.

“Students, alumni and fans who did not want the change quickly embraced the new Red Wolves mascot,” Hankins said. “Our revenue from merchandise sales royalties has escalated to record highs since the change.”

Even Redskins rival Michael Irvin, a Dallas Cowboys Hall of Famer, said the name should be changed if it is offensive to Native Americans and that the team could actually benefit from such a change.

“And here’s the best part, with the owner Daniel Snyder, I mean, I know they love making money,” Irvin said at a U.S. Conference of Mayors symposium on sports and racism in Dallas on June 23. “It could make a lot of money for them. Because everybody that has all those Redskins things, they’ve got to get the new ones.”

In June, the United States Patent and Trademark Office canceled the team’s trademarks in a 2-1 ruling on the basis they are “disparaging to Native Americans.” The team has appealed the ruling and has said it is confident it will be overturned.

Mark Moseley did not return correspondence from the Examiner as of press time.