Washington Football Team Bans Native American Headdresses and Face Paint


The Washington Football Team on Wednesday quietly announced that fans would not be allowed to wear Native American-inspired headdresses or face paint at its stadium.

The change in policy was announced with other updated stadium policies and protocols for games this season, including recommending face masks for unvaccinated fans, and concession stands going cashless.

“We are excited to welcome everyone back wearing their Burgundy & Gold,” the team said in a statement. “However, Native American-inspired ceremonial headdresses or face paint may no longer be worn into the stadium.”

The fan attire policy comes just over a year after the team dropped its logo and removed “Redskins” from its name after years of advocates’ calling for the change. The name even drew concerns from President Barack Obama. The team discarded the name after widespread protests for social justice that followed George Floyd’s killing, and after pressure from sponsors like FedEx, Nike and Pepsi.

The team, which plays home games at FedEx Field, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday.

The new dress code also comes as teams like the Kansas City Chiefs and the Cleveland Indians have made similar changes of their own. Cleveland’s Major League Baseball team announced in July that it would change its name to the Guardians, and three days later, the Chiefs said the National Football League team would retire its mascot, a horse named Warpaint, while retaining its name.

Fawn Sharp, the president of the National Congress of American Indians, said on Wednesday that the Washington Football Team’s change was “welcome news, but long overdue.”

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“Native people have suffered the indignity and trauma of these dehumanizing fan rituals for decades,” Ms. Sharp said in a statement. “N.C.A.I. will not rest until all professional, collegiate and K-12 school teams retire their Native ‘themed’ mascots — and the fan rituals that go with them — to the dustbin of history where they belong.”

The Washington Football Team is not expected to announce its new moniker until the 2022 season. In April, the team announced that a survey had yielded more than 39,000 submissions from fans with suggestions for a new name, including the Cannons, the Thrushers, Red-Monster-Truck-Jam and the Washington Wash Your Hands.

After the survey, Jason Wright, the team’s president, said the team would create a shortlist from the submissions. Then the team would take on the “monthslong work of legal wrangling, trademarking, merchandising feasibility and dozens of other uninteresting but really important steps that go into the launch of a new name.”

“We know it’s nearly impossible that everyone will like the name we land on,” Mr. Wright said in April. “For a franchise identity that has meant so much to so many families and communities, in both positive and hurtful ways, there is no way to land a new brand without some dissatisfaction. But our hope is that our fans can understand that the final decision will be raised up by the pillars they built during this process.”


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