A leader of the Navajo Code Talkers who appeared at a Washington Redskins home football game said Wednesday the team name is a symbol of loyalty and courage — not a slur as asserted by critics who want it changed.
Roy Hawthorne, 87, of Lupton, Ariz., was one of four Code Talkers honored for their service in World War II during the Monday night game against the San Francisco 49ers.
Hawthorne, vice president of the Navajo Code Talkers Association, said the group’s trip was paid for by the Redskins. The four men met briefly with team owner Dan Snyder but did not discuss the name, Hawthorne said.
Still, he said he would endorse the name if asked, and the televised appearance in which three of the Native Americans wore Redskins jackets spoke for itself.
“We didn’t have that in mind but that is undoubtedly what we did do,” Hawthorne said when asked if he was intending to send a statement with the appearance. “My opinion is that’s a name that not only the team should keep, but that’s a name that’s American.”
Monday night’s brief, on-field ceremony came as some Native Americans and civil rights leaders wage a “Change the Mascot” campaign that targets the term redskins as a racial epithet.
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