The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Native American tribe votes to reject $25,000 offered by Washington Redskins foundation

FILE: Asantewaa Nkrumah-Ture, Mike Wang, and Zorayda Moreira-Smith, protest the name of the Washington Redskins, in the shadow of FedEx Field. (Photo by Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post

A South Dakota Native American tribe’s leaders voted Wednesday to reject all money – including an already-offered $25,000 – from the Washington Redskins and the foundation that team owner Daniel Snyder created to help Indians.

Ryman LeBeau, a member of the Cheyenne River Sioux council, posted the news to Facebook on Wednesday and confirmed the vote in a brief phone call a few hours later. Aside from its decision to rebuff the money, the council ordered its chairman and the tribe (which has 8,000 members living on the reservation) to “cease all unsanctioned communication with the Washington Redskins and any group or person associated with them,” according to a photo of the motion’s language LeBeau shared on his page.

Late Tuesday night, he posted the image of a $25,000 check from the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation made out to the Cheyenne River Rodeo Association on July 10.

“Sold our souls,” he wrote above it. “Price was cheap.”

[Tribe’s infighting offers glimpse into Redskins foundation’s tactics]

Native American activists have for years protested the Redskins moniker, insisting that it’s a racial slur. Snyder has argued that the name honors Native Americans and has vowed never to change it.

LeBeau’s announcement – along with other recent posts declaring his opposition to accepting the financial support – was greeted by dozens of almost entirely supportive comments, several of which praised him for not selling out.

This isn’t the first time the team or foundation’s involvement with a tribe has triggered dissension.

The Navajo, Zuni and Cree have all had internal clashes because of members’ dealings with the Redskins, with some dismissing the name as innocuous and others calling it offensive.

This spring, the head of the Paiute Indian Tribe of Utah was stripped of her position by fellow council members after she accepted perks from the foundation (including a football signed by Robert Griffin III) and allowed the organization to pay for her and family members to attend a game in D.C.

The foundation, which was created last year, has kept its activities largely private. But it has courted dozens of tribes — many of them in rural areas in need of help — offering playgrounds, vans, shoes and thousands of coats, along with other support.

Though the young organization has yet to disclose its financial activities to the IRS, it is spending millions of dollars on nearly 250 projects with more than 50 federally recognized tribes, according to a team spokesman.

Information about what led to the Cheyenne River Sioux decision was not immediately available Wednesday afternoon because council members were still in session and unavailable for comment.

Read more: 

[Civil rights group closely allied with the NFL calls for the Redskins to change its name]

[Tug of war over Washington Redskins new stadium complicated by name debate]

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