As part of the organization’s commitment to honoring the Native community, the Washington Redskins will celebrate American Indian Heritage Month on Sunday, Nov. 18 at FedExField, when the team takes on the Houston Texans.
Native American representatives and tribal members from Blackfeet Nation, Jicarilla Apache Nation and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe will take part in a variety of ceremonies throughout the weekend, providing pregame and in-game events dedicated to observing and sharing traditional customs with fans in attendance.
“As an organization with strong ties to the Blackfeet Nation, we want to take the month of November to honor and celebrate the rich heritage of Native Americans,” said Brian Lafemina, President of Business Operations and Chief Operating Officer. “There is a long path toward true understanding of Native culture, but we believe by sharing their deep traditions and history, we can use our platform to continually learn alongside fans and bring us all closer to the roots of our team.”
The Redskins connection with the Blackfeet people goes back decades. Walter “Blackie” Wetzel, a Blackfeet Nation political leader and Chairman of National Congress of American Indians, approached Redskins ownership in 1971 with a proposal to change the “R” logo.
With blessings from tribal leaders, Wetzel brought photos from the Blackfeet reservation. The image of “Chief Two Guns White Calf” was most admired and the enduring Redskins logo was born. The likeness is not of a mascot, but rather a logo based after a real person out of respect for the Native American. Chief Two Guns also served as the model for the U.S. Indian Head Nickel minted in 1913.
The Redskins have continued to develop relationships with the Wetzel family and Blackfeet Nation tribal members, known as fierce warriors and often referred to as “Lords of the Plains,” protecting and preserving their homeland.
That includes Robert Rides at the Door, the team’s Manager of Guest Experience, a Blackfeet Nation tribal member whose parents, Tribal Elders and Spiritual Leaders, will kick off the Heritage Month weekend of recognition with a special blessing ceremony on Saturday at FedExField. Together they will perform a customary blessing, giving thanks and asking for good health, good luck, protection and victory.
The Redskins will also celebrate the mosaic of tribes throughout the country. Before the game on Sunday, four singers will perform a tribal song and honor the Blackfeet Nation tribal flag. The players will then be led onto the field by Isaiah Runs Above of the Northern Cheyenne Tribe, an accomplished high school athlete, who will run out with a tribal flag. To close pregame festivities, during the singing of the national anthem, four Jicarilla Apache Nation military veterans will present the colors.