The main focus of a protest being staged by Native Americans today at RFK Stadium will be on the use of the word "Redskins" as the team's name. A side issue involves the woman who is singing the national anthem, Princess Pale Moon of the American Indian Heritage Foundation in Falls Church.
Pale Moon, who says she is Cherokee and Ojibwe, has sung the anthem at RFK before Redskins games over the past 10 years and at two Republican national conventions. She also will have an entourage today, about 30 contestants in the Miss Indian USA beauty pageant her nonprofit foundation also runs.
The 18-year-old foundation, whose mass mailings seek money for food, clothing and other staples for distribution to Native Americans, has had difficulties in the past. In 1990, the group filed for protection in federal bankruptcy court in Alexandria, and that year also was forbidden to solicit funds in Virginia, New York and Michigan for failing to provide required financial reports.
Wil Rose, a non-Indian who is Pale Moon's husband and chief operating officer of the foundation, said it had recovered from its financial problems and no longer has Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. He also said all financial reports have been filed with state authorities around the country.
Shirley Harvey, an investigator for Virginia's Office of Consumer Affairs, confirmed the proper papers were filed and the foundation is now "in good standing as far as I can tell."
Some people also have questioned Pale Moon's Indian heritage. Vernon Bellecourt of Minneapolis, spokesman for the American Indian Movement, said this week: "She wants to be an Indian, but she's just masquerading. We're totally opposed to her singing the anthem."
Pale Moon was not available to comment. In an interview last year, her husband told States News Service that Pale Moon is an Indian, but is not enrolled in either the Cherokee or Ojibwe tribe because she became aware of her heritage only as an adult.
Rose also said he is sympathetic to the position of protesters upset with the use of the name "Redskins."
"I think they should consider the name change," he said. "I should think they'd want to hear that side of it and give it serious thought. But that doesn't preclude her from singing at the game."